Sacrifice and ritual imagery in Menander, Plautus, and Terence Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Gellar, Theodore Harry McMillan
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Classics
  • This thesis offers a systematic analysis of sacrifice and ritual in New Comedy. Sacrifice normally signifies a healthy community, often celebrating a family reunification. Menander, Plautus, and Terence treat sacrifice remarkably, each in a different way. In Menander, sacrifice seals the formation of healthy citizen marriages; in Plautus, it operates to negotiate theatrical power between characters. When characters use sacrificial imagery, they are essentially asserting authority over other characters or agency over the play. Both playwrights mark habitual sacrificers, particularly citizen females, as morally upright. Terence, by contrast, stunningly withholds sacrifice altogether, to underscore the emotional dysfunction among the citizen classes in his plays. Chapter 1 sets sacrifice in its historical and theatrical context. Chapter 2 considers how sacrifice might have been presented onstage; chapter 3 examines its theatrical functions. Chapter 4 focuses on gender and status issues, and chapter 5 moves out from sacrifice to ritual and religion overall.
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  • James, Sharon
  • Open access

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