On the occasion of the Classical Reception Studies Network graduate workshop that they co-organised at the Institute of Classical Studies CC’s Anastasia Bakogianni talks to Nancy Rabinowitz, Professor of Comparative Literature at Hamilton College. They discuss their shared interest in the theme of war and the portrayal of women in Greek tragedy, theme of their workshop.

Nancy tells us about how she utilises the lens of modern conflicts to return to Greek tragedy and to continue her investigations into the portrayal of women in these ancient plays. She discusses her work for an article she is currently working on for a volume edited by Peter Meineck (New York University) entitled Combat Trauma and the Ancient Greeks. She tells us how ancient warfare targeted all women – both those who were conquered and the ones left behind at home.  She argues that the anti-war interpretation of Euripides’ Troades is a modern phenomenon and that this ancient play is a revelation about what war was like in ancient times. Modern revivals of the play become popular during times of conflict, but it is important to remember that for ancient audiences war was a fact of life.

Nancy talks about how war’s madness impacts on those left behind in dramas such as Aeschylus’ Agamemnon which deals with the aftermath of the War at Troy. The Oresteia trilogy as a whole endorses Orestes’ revenge, but modern audiences have trouble accepting Hecuba’s revenge in Euripides’ eponymous play. We are more sympathetic towards Hecuba’s sufferings in the Troades, but we cannot accept her desire for revenge when it involves the murder of children.

Finally Nancy tells us about her involvement in Peter Meineck’s project Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives which is designed to bring Greek literature to new audiences by organising a series of staged readings, lectures and discussions.

Click on the image below or the following link to watch our interview: http://youtu.be/5gTj1CA4RAE