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date: 16 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines how two prominent subjects of American socio-political discourse in the 1960s—American military expansion and domestic sexual liberation—exhibit surprising metaphors and interconnections in adaptations of the ancient Greek playwright Euripides, including Archibald MacLeish’s Herakles (1965/7) and the Performance Group’s Dionysus in 69 (1968). Each adaptation explores homosexuality and American imperialism simultaneously, even as the individual American adaptors bring Euripidean notions of sthenos (“might”) and eros (“desire”) to the contemporary stage. These two theatrical works thus look forward to a “post-1969” era in classical reception, an era which includes explicitly gay versions of the Bacchae and transparently apocalyptic versions of Euripides’ war plays.

Keywords: Archibald MacLeish, Dionysus in 69, homosexuality, classical reception, Euripides, American theater, The Performance Group

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