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Music of TragedyPerformance and Imagination in Euripidean Theater$
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Naomi A. Weiss

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520295902

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520295902.001.0001

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Protean Singers and the Shaping of Narrative in Helen

Protean Singers and the Shaping of Narrative in Helen

(p.140) 4 Protean Singers and the Shaping of Narrative in Helen
Music of Tragedy

Naomi A. Weiss

University of California Press

This chapter analyzes the musical narrative of Helen—how the transition from lament to more celebratory mousikē linked to Dionysus mirrors the plot’s movement toward a happy resolution. It shows how this musical narrative is linked to a series of images addressed in the play’s songs, from the Sirens to the mourning nightingale, the Great Mother, and the syrinx-playing crane. All these images are associated with particular types of musical performance, and all of them revolve around Helen, who is herself a multiform figure of chorality. Weiss argues that each image reflects her state and physical location at each point within the tragedy, ultimately marking her separation from the dramatic chorus as she leaves Egypt for Sparta.

Keywords:   Euripides, Helen, chorus, chorality, lament, musical narrative, nightingale, Great Mother, Sirens

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