African American Literature and the Classicist Tradition: by Tracey L. Walters (auth.)

By Tracey L. Walters (auth.)

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The discussion at hand has shown that the stories of Persephone and Demeter, Niobe, and Medea have captured the imagination of ancient and modern writers in different ways. The forthcoming chapters explore how African American women writers bring their own perspectives to the myths and create new contemporary tales that make the myths relevant for our time. 2 Classical Discourse as Political Agency: African American Revisionist Mythmaking by Phillis Wheatley, Henrietta Cordelia Ray, and| Pauline Hopkins Phillis Wheatley In 1773 Phillis Wheatley established the tradition of Black women’s classical revision when she published a number of classically-inspired poems in her first and only collection, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.

Ancient writers treat Medea’s murder of her children in various ways. Gantz says that pre-Euripides stories from the Archaic period offer two versions of Medea’s story, “one in which Medeia inadvertently kills her children, the other in which the Korinthians do it deliberately. To these Euripides would then add as a third possibility the slaying of them by their mother for revenge on Iason” (369–70). The scholia to Euripides, according to Gantz, maintains that the Corinthians kill Medea’s children because they resent the fact that she is a foreign queen and they distrust her knowledge of witchcraft.

Graves shows that Pluto is not solely interested in raping Proserpine, rather he wants to make her his wife; and before taking Proserpine he asks Jove’s permission to marry her. Also, when Metaneria witnesses Ceres’ attempt to make Demophoön immortal, Ceres “broke the spell” (90) and Demophoön dies. 6 Throughout the ages, writers and poets, from John Milton, Geoffrey Chaucer, and D. H. Lawrence, to Hilda Doolittle, Gwendolyn 26 AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE AND THE CLASSICIST TRADITION Brooks, and Toni Morrison, have recast the Persephone and Demeter myth.

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