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date: 20 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Elucidating Athenian drama lay at the heart of efforts by the classical educator and best-selling author Edith Hamilton (1867–1963) to interpret ancient Greece for a mid-twentieth-century American audience. Yet her writings barely address issues of Greek dramatic performance; her much-read translations of three Greek tragedies are themselves rarely performed. Hallett’s discussion contrasts Hamilton’s engagements with Greek drama to those of her contemporary Eva Palmer Sikelianos, a feminist dramaturge passionately concerned with staging Greek plays in their original settings. It argues that Hamilton exercised her influence through books and essays that “Americanized,” masculinized, and democratized the idea of Greek tragedy. She thereby captured the devotion of a middlebrow U.S. readership that included Senator Robert F. Kennedy, while ignoring other American writers at the time—most notably the classically trained Theodore Dreiser—who re-envisioned Greek tragedy in an American cultural context that takes social class and gender into serious account.

Keywords: Edith Hamilton, Robert F. Kennedy, Eva Palmer Sikelianos, Theodore Dreiser, Athens, (social) class, democracy, gender, performance, slavery

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