Memories of glory: poetry, prose, and commemoration in the Heraclidae

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The early description of the Heraclidae as one of the ‘political’ Euripidean plays has had a substantial impact on its interpretation. Yet the Heraclidae does not simply engage in political questions of how to act, either as an individual or as a state. It also raises questions as to how such actions should be commemorated, and who should be involved in their commemoration. Its engagement with a range of discourses for memorialisation, both poetic and prose, brings it into direct dialogue both with the cultural, poetic heritage of tragedy, and with the new genre of the epitaphios. Yet, at the same time, the Heraclidae is distinctly different to an epitaphios, not least in its inclusion of problematic elements in what is usually a common myth featured in the epitaphios. Furthermore, the Heraclidae engages persistently with the language of commemoration and celebration of past deeds – including by incorporating some of the language and themes of the epitaphios itself. At the same time, however, the Heraclidae maintains a strongly poetic tone, with both characters and the chorus drawing on poetic discourses of praise and commemoration as much as they do the prose epitaphios. As a result, the Heraclidae draws not only the epitaphios into connection with tragedy, but, via tragedy, draws archaic praise poetry into connection with the epitaphios. In so doing, it demonstrates the value of both approaches to commemorating Athens’ past glories, and shows how the genre of tragedy can have a particularly valuable memorialising function in contemporary Athens.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAncient memory
Subtitle of host publicationremembrance and commemoration in Graeco-Roman literature
EditorsKatharine Mawford, Eleni Ntanou
Place of PublicationBerlin
Publisherde Gruyter
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783110728798
ISBN (Print)9783110728712, 9783111267739
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2021
EventAnnual meeting of postgraduates in ancient literature (AMPAL) 2018 - University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 21 Jun 201822 Jun 2018

Publication series

NameTrends in classics supplementary volumes
ISSN (Print)1868-4785


ConferenceAnnual meeting of postgraduates in ancient literature (AMPAL) 2018
Abbreviated titleAMPAL 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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