Category Archives: Sophocles

Private Lives, Public Deaths: Antigone and the Invention of Individuality (2013)

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Table of Contents

1. Two Orders of Individuality
2. The Citizen
3. Loss Embodied
4. States of Exclusion
5. Inventing Life
6. Mourning, Longing, Loving
7. Exit Tragedy

Appendix A: Summary of Sophocles's Labdacid Cycle
Appendix B: Timeline of Relevant Events in Ancient Greece

From the publisher, Fordham University Press:

In Private Lives, Public Deaths, Jonathan Strauss shows how Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone crystallized the political, intellectual, and aesthetic forces of an entire historical moment—fifth century Athens—into one idea: the value of a single living person. That idea existed, however, only as a powerful but unconscious desire. Drawing on classical studies, Hegel, and contemporary philosophical interpretations of this pivotal drama, Strauss argues that Antigone’s tragedy, and perhaps all classical tragedy, represents a failure to satisfy this longing.

To the extent that the value of a living individual remains an open question, what Sophocles attempted to imagine still escapes our understanding. Antigone is, in this sense, a text not from the past but from our future.

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