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'A future for Astyanax': alternative and imagined futures for Hector's son in classical and European drama

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Susanna Phillippo


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This article explores the motif of alternative futures for the child Astyanax, presented as action or imagined by other characters, as that motif was used and developed in a sequence of closely interconnected dramatic works stretching from Euripides to Craig Raine’s 1990 reworking of Racine’s Andromaque, his ‘1953’. Considering the range of legendary possibilities for the child’s future available to Euripides (death for private revenge, death at the hands of Neoptolemos/Pyrrhus, death by collective policy decision of the Greeks, survival to participate in the restoration of his people), the article examines how Euripides exploited these possibilities in Troades, and how Seneca in his Troades followed and developed themes and patterns which Euripides had established in treating the motif. The persistence of alternative versions of Astyanax’s future in late Latin, medieval and renaissance texts, running parallel to the Senecan tradition, is then explored; Racine’s reworking of Astyanax’s story in Andromaque (1667) is examined in the light of the influence on him both of these and of the way in which Senecan/Euripidean elements had developed sequentially through earlier dramatic works of the 16th–17th centuries. The article concludes by exploring developments of Racine’s innovations to the motif, in the work of his contemporary Pradon and of the 20th-century English poet Raine.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Phillippo S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of the Classical Tradition

Year: 2007

Volume: 14

Issue: 3-4

Pages: 321-374

ISSN (print): 1073-0508

ISSN (electronic): 1874-6292

Publisher: Springer Netherlands


DOI: 10.1007/s12138-008-0012-3


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