Horan on Euripides’ Bacchae
Jennifer Horan (Lecturer, Literary Arts & Studies) will present a conference paper at New Castle University, Newcastle, England, in early July.
The paper, “Choral Ends of the City: a Reading of Euripides’ Bacchae,” discusses how the chorus of Euripides’s Bacchae can be a focal point for thinking about utopia and the ends of the city.
Composed of a group of Maenads, the female celebrants of Dionysus who come from Asia-Minor and who also go by the name, Bacchant, the chorus problematizes the notion of utopia as an end of the city not least because it is an outsider to the Greek polis, but also because the Asian Maenads are identified with the violence and frenzy carried out by the Theban Bacchants.
The chorus of Maenads signifies an enigma to the city, representing at once the city’s extension of “cultural and cognitive horizons” (Zeitlin) and its tragic introversion; at once the incorporation and exclusion of the other. The city in short is perilous threshold of unrestricted and restricted economies. These binaries however can prove generative if we think of the city as the locus of a passage between cultic and mythic (Theban Bacchant and Lydian Maenad), ritual performance and ritual sacrifice, nomos and nomadism, choris and chora, etc.
The Bacchae chorus is an axle-character, for it keeps alive the possibilities for thinking the ends of the city as a continuous and unbound idea. In the reading of the chorus, Horan demonstrates the ways this happens, referring to performance philosophies informed by the Greek chorus and recent cross-cultural performances of The Bacchae.