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Sophocles' Tragic World: Divinity, Nature, Society Hardcover – December 13, 1995

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (December 13, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674821009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674821002
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,395,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Sophocles' Tragic World is...a lucidly written work of great theoretical sophistication and learning, offering many new insights into the fundamental meaning of the plays. (Victor Bers Bryn Mawr Classical Review)

[Segal] refutes reductionist attempts to derive from a Sophoclean tragedy a unitary moral or message. The dramas, Segal argues, present insoluble dilemmas that require the audience to engage with the situations the characters face, the choices the characters make, and the consequences of those choices...This book will be of interest to anyone who wants a fuller appreciation of Sophocles' dramatic art. (Andrew Szegedy-Maszak New England Classical Journal)

Segal's strengths as a critic are sensitivity to detail, breadth of cultural reference, and open-mindedness; these qualities make his writing rich...This is a book which could enhance any reader's understanding of Sophocles. (Greece and Rome)

A fine collection of nine essays...A richly rewarding collection amply illustrated with specific detailed reference to the texts that one always tries to inculcate in one's pupils: for them, this will be invaluable. (Jim Neville JACT Review)

Sophocles' Tragic World is an organized collection of nine essays (plus introduction) on five plays, Ajax, Trachiniae, Philoctetes, Antigone, and--especially--OT, to which four of the chapters are devoted. The introduction and three of the essays (one on Ant., two on OT) are new; the others are revisions of published articles, dating originally from 1976 to 1993. For several decades now, [Segal] has been so articulate about Greek tragedy, and so productive in his articulations, that one has acquired an unusually sharp sense...of the changing shape and direction that his readings have taken over the years. (M.S. Silk Classical Review)

Charles Segal has written a superb critical study of five of the seven extant plays by Sophocles...Segal's analytical interests go beyond the usual discussion of the nature of heroic greatness of tragic stature. He is principally concerned with the 'tragic world' which Sophocles depicts...Segal writes in a lucid, jargon-free prose that is also dramaturgy of the highest order...Segal's strength as a critic issues directly from a wide-ranging sensitivity to the epic tradition and a nuanced awareness of the dramatic use of temporal shifts and poetic displacements. Segal's terrific, lucid book should also be required reading for anyone interested in the tragic stature of women in Greek tragedy. His complex thinking on the subject gives justice to the basic intractability of Sophocles's views on the nature of feminine sensibility. (Randy Gener New York Theatre Wire)

This work includes five previously published essays and four new essays. Once more, Segal brings his considerable scholarship to bear on the plays of Sophocles, addressing five of the seven extant tragedies. (Choice)

About the Author

Charles Segal is the late Walter C. Klein Professor of the Classics, Harvard University.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Franklin on November 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I am a scholar of Ancient Greek Tragedy and as such an expert I can say that Charles Segal has the most unique opinon of Oedipus in particular, although his book covers various Sophoclean heroes, that I have come across in recent years. This text is fresh, and suprisingly clear and easy to understand. He leaves no rock unturned, no theory unaddressed. If you are looking on a guide to Oedipus, Antigone, Ajax, or Trachinian Women, you have come to the right place. Buy this book, it's good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dan on January 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a traditional "collection of essays" as opposed to an ordered and sustained argument. As such, I find it invaluable. Indeed, there are multiple essays on Oedipus Tyrannus that everyone should read. I was particularly taken by his analysis of the Chorus. His (loosely) psychoanalytic reading of lament in Antigone is also, I think, something every scholar must at least be aware of. And he even tackles Lacan in what I found to be an unusually dense text for Segal. The subject itself is quite abstract, and as far as applying it to classical studies goes, I think Segal makes sense of Lacan without appropriating him.
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