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Toni MorrisonMemory and Meaning$
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Adrienne Lanier Seward and Justine Tally

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781628460193

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2015

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781628460193.001.0001

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Aeschylus, Euripides, and Toni Morrison

Aeschylus, Euripides, and Toni Morrison

Miasma, Revenge, and Atonement

(p.172) Aeschylus, Euripides, and Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison

Tessa Roynon

University Press of Mississippi

This essay discusses Morrison’s interest in the interwoven nature of African and classical traditions, and her repeated use of the interfaces between Greece, Rome, and North and West Africa to great political effect. This synthesis t about African-American identity. Her novels consistently strive to break down the “either/or” ways of thinking that are one legacy of Enlightenment structures. The essay goes on to demonstrate and analyze the ways in which Aeschylus’s Oresteia and Euripides’s Bacchae inform Morrison’s exploration of the themes of vengeance and atonement, and of the process of revenge as a flawed means to moral purification. Morrison’s often-ambivalent and revisionary engagement with Aeschylus and Euripides, and in particular with the ancient Greek concept of miasma, or ‘pollution,’ gives rise to a devastating critique of American “justice” as it is pursued in the courts, in domestic and in foreign policy. (141 words)

Keywords:   Aeschylus’s Orestia, Euripides’s Bacchae, classical traditions, miasma, Justice

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