“It is not a small thing to defeat a king”. The Servant/Messenger’s Tale in Euripides’ Electra
In Euripides’ Electra, the narrative of Aegisthus’ murder (774-858) is generally appreciated for its vividness. Yet, both the dialogue that precedes the speech and the speech itself constitute an exception among the messenger-speeches in Attic tragedies for their length and emphasis upon dramatized speech, respectively. Furthermore, the unexpected opposition between ‘words’ and ‘deeds’ made by Orestes himself after his victory over Aegisthus (893-4) seems to substantially relativize the dramatic convention of the messenger-speech as a whole. This essay aims at exploring (a) the complex way in which the Servant/Messenger establishes a contact with his addressees, and (b) his peculiar interlacing of diegesis and mimesis, narrative and dialogue, which suggests a distinctive metatheatrical function with symbolic implications regarding the offstage/onstage space in relation to Aegisthus’ murder.
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