An intelligent and original study in comparative literature which explores the relationship between dramatic representations of death in two societies illustrated by ancient Greek tragedians and modern Irish playwrights.
Focuses on the Irish Literary Revival to show how the classical tradition continues to influence the Irish stage. Establishes underlying patterns in the rituals of death in pagan Greece and Catholic Ireland. Illuminating critical andcomparative insights into the works of 5th century Greek tragedians - Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides, and the plays of O'Casey, Synge and Yeats.
Dying Acts explores the relationship between the dramatic representations of death in two societies where elaborate rituals make death and dying a part of the processes of living in a way that is now alien to most modern Western societies. But it is not simply the shared conception of death that makes a comparison between the Greek tragedies and the Irish plays written some two and a half thousand years later both a valuable and instructive task. The fact that mythical material - just as in classical Greece - forms the basis for many Irish plays written during the Literary Revival also makes such a comparison useful. Moreover, the writers of the Irish tragedies discussed - notably Yeats, O'Casey and Synge - explicitly turned to the Greek tragedians as 'exempla' in their attempt to found a national theatre. And the Irish hero Cuchulain was regularly compared to the Greek heroes Heracles and Achilles by Celtic scholars, no less than by the playwrights themselves. This wide ranging study uncovers the genuine affinities which do exist and examines the political and social context of their works. It is a subtle and intelligent exploration with unexpected and rewarding conclusions.