Sophocles and the Language of Tragedy


'Sophocles is a supreme artist of language', begins A.A. Long in 1968 {Language and Thought in Sophocles ), yet he cis more difficult to analyse than either of his fellow tragedians'; the attempt has nevertheless been made by many a scholar, including Earp ( The Style of Sophocles [1944]), Budelmann ( The Language of Sophocles [2000]), and now, in his own way, Simon Goldhill. We hardly expect a formalist study of style from Goldhill, whom Budelmann includes in criticism's shift away from the idiosyncratic language of an individual author to the culturally situated discourse of tragedy as a whole. Yet Sophocles and the Language of Tragedy has a conflicted identity, one half addressing tragic discourse as in Goldhill's earlier career, the second half turning to reception as in his more recent work; a brief epilogue compounds the identity crisis by asserting that Part 1 shows (à la Earp or Long) how Sophocles' language is different from that of Aeschylus or Euripides.


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