The Consolation of Sorrow




Freemyer, Ashlyn

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What have the tragedies of antiquity to do with consolation? It seems that the Greek plays, which are marked by war and grief, have little to offer in terms of comfort. Yet, the characters of ancient drama are well-acquainted with sorrow, inviting audiences to share in the experience of suffering and desire for consolation. In this thesis, I demonstrate how Greek tragedies provide a consolatory sorrow that relieves the afflicted and pulls them outside of themselves. I establish the various ways in which consolation allows for sorrow, turning to both the philosophic and religious traditions. Both perspectives recognize the need to mourn and leave room for expressions of sadness. Greek tragedies prompt this consolatory sorrow by providing a platform for people to confront suffering and mortality through the safety of art. In depicting the serious nature of pain and grief, the dramas provide an outlet for sorrow, recognizing the need to mourn and pushing audiences towards a consolation found in community and comforting others.