A Dialogic Soliloquy?

On Polyxena’s Conversational Behaviour in E. Hec. 415-422

In: Mnemosyne
Gunther MartinUniversity of Zurich, Seminar of Greek and Latin Languages and Literature

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In Euripides’ Hecuba, both the scholia and modern interpreters detect a failure of communication in the farewell scene between the protagonist and Polyxena—though the scholiast names Polyxena as the source of the non-dialogue, whereas the modern commentators claim that neither character is engaging. This paper aims, firstly, by a slight redistribution of lines, to restore coherence to the dialogue. Secondly, it argues that it is Hecuba’s rather than Polyxena’s conversational behaviour that impedes the smooth progress of the dialogue. Polyxena is even the one trying to reintegrate her mother into the dialogue. Her linguistic behaviour thus matches her composed and ‘heroic’ overall conduct.

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