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Monday, May 09, 2011

cross culture issues: Sophocles Electra

In the opening scene of Electra we run into a problem, what to do with the role of Paedagogus who opens the play with a speech to Orestes. The word Paedagogus at one time referred to a house servant who took a boy from home to school and brought him back again. In the case of Orestes, Electra handed her brother over to Paedagogus to take him away and protect him after the murder of Orestes’ father Agamemnon the king. Agamemnon was away at war for a decade and then came home and was murdered, so Orestes didn’t know his father. The absent father scenario should be intelligible to our target audience, but the servant-tutor would probably correspond to a grandmother or aunt.

The scenario of Kings and Kings’ sons is not foreign to our audience which is exposed to regal fantasy by Hollywood and fantasy novels. So perhaps we can just leave the story as it is, a kings’ son who is a stranger to his father, seeking revenge for his father’s murder with aid of his tutor-mentor Paedagogus and his sister Electra. Calling Paedagogus “old man” our “tutor” would cause cross culture confusion, better off to stick with the Greek name. The contemporary fantasy genre is filled with exotic names. A footnote could explain his relationship to Orestes.


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