Behind Multiple Masks: Leon Modena’s Diasporic Tragedy L’Ester in Seventeenth-Century Venice
Particularly in times of crisis and historical challenges, the biblical figure of Esther has been variously interpreted as a paradigm of resistance and renewal of communitarian bonds. Esther is a creative mediator thanks to her always being the Other: the Other of man (Mordecai and Ahasuerus), of society (Persian court), and of Judaism. This paper focuses on Leon Modena’s L’Ester: Tragedia tratta dalla Sacra Scrittura (1619). Particular attention is given to Modena’s anthropological and political reading of Ester’s characters, including the suicidal queen Vashti, whose impetuousness overshadows the taciturn Esther. The central figure is Mordecai: he typifies the ‘wandering Jew’ who lives a ‘two-hats’ existence and strives to find a balance between political realism and messianic expectations. Through its characters, Modena’s Purim tragedy unveils paradoxical interlacings between despair and hope; cry of protest and prayer of prophecy; blinding passions and mediation strategies.
Keywords: Leon Modena; Esther; diasporic tragedy
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