“Mycenae”

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Themes

Line 17: ‘tortured by my own shirt’

A reference to the poisoned tunic of the Centaur Nessus, that clings on Herakles’ flesh and destroys him at the end of Sophocles’ play Trachiniae.  Theme of ‘trap’ – shirt as symbol of deceit.

The theme of the perpetuation of evil and murder and of the vicious circle of revenge allude to Aeschylus’ Oresteia

 

Language  

Line 26:  ‘inexhaustible purple’ 

A transparent allusion to the famous scene from Aeschylus’ Agamemnon where Clytemnestra persuades her husband to treat on a piece of expensive purple. Agamemnon initially objects to this propasal, which he sees as a pointless destruction of wealth. Clytemnestra counterpoises that the sea, where the purple-producing shell is to be found is inexhaustible.

 

Line 28: ‘when the Semnae began whistling’ 

The locution brings to mind Aeschylus’ Eumenides 1041 and  Choephori 1049-50 where the Furies are described.

 

Mythic Characters

Line 28: Semnae

Agamemnon (Agamemnon is the persona loquens, even though his identity remains implicit throughout the poem)

 

Bibliography

Η. Βournas, The Journey Beyond Symbolism: Valery, Rimbaud, Eliot and their Relationship to George Seferis [PhD thesis submitted to the New York University] 1983, 374-80.

Capri-Karka, C. 1985. War in the poetry of George Seferis, New York 1985, at 72-9.

Catafygiotou, E. T. 1970. ‘Seferis’ “Mycenae”: a tragic lyric’, Neohellenika 1: 128-40.

Kohler, D. 1985. L’ aviron d’ Ulysse. L’ itinéraire poétique de Georges Séféris, Paris, 347-8, 452-3. 

Karayianis, S. 1994. ‘Έξι “νότες” για τη Γυμνοπαιδία του Γιώργου Σεφέρη’, Αkti 18: 215-27.

Ladia, E. 1983. ‘Oι μυκηναϊκές ρίζες στη σύγχρονη ποίηση’, in Ποιητές και Αρχαία Ελλάδα, Athens, 86-93.

Rexine, J. E. 1984. ‘Noble Laureate George Seferis and the Continuity of the Greek tradition’, Journal of Modern Hellenism 1: 33-54.

Savidis, G.P. 1992. Oι αρχαιολογικές περιδιαβάσεις του ποιητή Γιώργου Σεφέρη, Nicosia, 11-14.     

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

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