From around 1800, particularly in Germany, Greek tragedy has been privileged in popular and scholarly discourse for its relation to apparently timeless metaphysical, existential, ethical, aesthetic, and psychological questions. As a major concern of modern philosophy, it has fascinated thinkers including Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud, and Heidegger. Such theories have arguably had a more profound influence on modern understanding of the genre than works of classical scholarship or theatrical performances.
Tragedy and the Idea of Modernity considers this tradition of philosophy in relation to the ancient Greek works themselves, and mediates between the concerns of classicists and those of intellectual historians and philosophers. The volume is organized into sections treating issues of poetics, politics and culture, and canonicity, and contributions by an interdisciplinary range of scholars consider themes of catharsis, the sublime, politics, and reconciliation, spanning 2,500 years of literature and philosophy. Although firmly anchored in the classical tradition, the volume suggests that the tradition of philosophical thought concerning tragedy has a major place in understandings both of ancient tragedy and of modernity itself.