Electra Ancient and Modern: Aspects of the Reception of the Tragic Heroine

Bakogianni, Anastasia (2011). Electra Ancient and Modern: Aspects of the Reception of the Tragic Heroine. Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies Supplement, 113. London: Institute of Classical Studies.


Electra is a unique, complex, and fascinating Greek tragic heroine, who became a source of inspiration for countless playwrights, artists, musicians and filmmakers. The daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra she famously supported her brother’s quest to avenge their father’s murder even at the cost of matricide. Her passion for justice and her desire for vengeance have echoed down the centuries to the modern era. Enshrined as the mourner of Greek tragedy par excellence Electra has enjoyed a long and rich reception history. This book examines her treatment by all three ancient tragedians, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, and their dialogue with the mythical tradition that preceded them. The focus then shifts forward in time to case studies of her reception in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Gradually Electra’s dark desires reemerge over the course of these three centuries until her passionate cries for vengeance are heard once again.

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