The homecoming (νóoτoσ) pattern in Greek tragedy
This thesis is an analysis of the use of the homecoming ('nostos' in Greek) in Greek tragedy. I concentrate not just on the treatment of the nostos-theme within the plot and the imagery of the plays in question but also on nostos as part of Greek cultural experience. In order to illuminate the nature of nostos both as a life-event and as a story-pattern in the early literary tradition I begin with an overview of nostos in life and literature, and then give a detailed account of nostos in the Odyssey, since it is a major example of the nostos-pattern for Greek culture. By considering the literary treatment of nostos in the Odyssey one may understand the nature of nostos as a story-pattern and how that influences audience expectations. This is particularly important since the analysis of nostos in Greek tragedy will be especially related to the Odyssey. Specifically the thesis aims to describe and analyse common elements within the plot and the imagery of the plays that might be called nostos-plays. Primary nostos-plays are those where nostos serves as the fulcrum of the action, such as Aeschylus' 'Persians' and Agamemnon and Sophocles' 'Trachiniae'. The bulk of this study is devoted to the structural use of nostos in these plays. I stress at the outset, however, that the nostos-pattern in Greek tragedy is exploited more widely, and there are many occasions in Greek drama where nostos is an element of the plot. Among these, those with closest association to the treatment of nostos in the second half of the Odyssey are the Orestes-plots (notably Aeschylus' 'Choephori', Sophocles' 'Electra' and Euripides' 'Electra'). I also consider the use of nostos in Euripides' 'Andromache' and 'Heracles' since both plays illustrate that nostos is a means of creative variation on the part of the poet. Interpretation of the specific plays shows that the nostos-pattern common to these plays is a flexible set of conventions with significant variation in each case. Common themes and roles are developed in divergent ways, expectations raised are not necessarily met. Thus the thesis will recognise the variety of specific uses of the nostos-pattern on tragic stage. Finally, I suggest in the Appendix a new reading of Seferis' poem. In particular I relate the return of the exile in Seferis' poem to the return of Orestes, which underlines the idealistic nature of the notion of a return to the same. This notion is embodied in both the nostos-plays and Seferis' poem.