In The Mourning Voice, Nicole Loraux presents a radical challenge to what has become the dominant view of tragedy in recent years: that tragedy is primarily a civic phemen, infused with Athenian political ideology, which envisions its spectators first and foremost as citizens, members of the political collective. Instead, Loraux maintains, the spectator addressed by tragedy is the individual defined primarily in terms of his or her humanity, rather than in terms of affiliation with a political group. The plays, she says, involve the spectators in the emotional expressiveness of tragic suffering, thereby creating a theatrical identity. Aroused by the experience of suffering, the audience is reminded that it is witnessing a theatrical representation of the instability of the human condition-a state that Loraux asserts tragedy is uniquely suited to convey.
Elizabeth Trapnell Rawlings is an independent translator of books including The Mind of Thucydides by Jacqueline de Romilly, The Care of the Dead in Late Antiquity by Eric Rebillard and The Mourning Voice by Nicole Loraux, all from Cornell. Pietro Pucci is Goldwin Smith Professor of Classics Emeritus at Cornell University. He is the author of several books, including Odysseus Polutropos: Intertexual Readings in the Odyssey and the Iliad, The Violence of Pity in Euripides' Medea, and Oedipus and the Fabrication of the Father: Oedipus Tyrannus in Modern Criticism and Philosophy.