“On Stage” (C)

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Themes

Lines 2-5: Τhe reference to the blood and, most importantly, the baths of revenge is a clear allusion to Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and, more particularly, to Agamemnon’s murder by Clytemestra.

The deviations from the conventions of the Greek tragedy (absent chorus & relaxed messengers) indicate that the ‘staged play’ does not refer only to an ancient Greek tragedy, but also to a modern one. Given that the Three Secret Poems were published in 1966, the ‘notorious crime’ could also serve as an allusion to the bloodshed during the World War II and the civil War. From this perspective the distressed Clytemnestra could also be paralelled to the brutally tortured Greece.

 

Language

Lines 25-6: “Whoever wants to sleep with me, let him come forward. I am the sea, am I not?

Clytemnestra’s pronouncement reminds us of Agamemnon 990, where she declares that ‘the sea is inexchaustible’, a much-cited phrase in Seferis’ poetry. Interestingly, here Clytemnestra emphatically compares herself to the sea. Moreover, whereas Aeschylus’ Clytemnestra is revengeful, Seferis’ Clytemnestra counterposes love to the death to which she is condemned by her avengers. This shift lends to the poem a rather optimistic tone.

 

Mythic Characters

Clytemestra [even though her name is not explicitly mentioned, it can be assumed with some certainty that she is the one addressed by the persona loquens]  

 

Bibliography

Orphanidis, N. 1985. Η πολιτική διάσταση της ποίησης του Σεφέρη, Αthens, 207-216.

Trivizas, S. 1984. ‘Ο μύθος των Ατρειδών στη σεφερική ποίηση’, Porphyras 23 (Jun.): 237-47.

 

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