Books: Classical Blood

THE EATING OF THE GODS: AN INTERPRETATION OF GREEK TRAGEDY

by JAN KOTT

Translated by BOLESLAW TABORSKI and EDWARD J. CZERWINSKI

334 pages. Random House. $8.95.

Explanations of Greek tragedy have all too often been left to professors with comfortable tenures writing in tidy studies. Words like hubris (head-spinning pride) and catharsis (purgation by pity and terror) begin to assume a certain noble abstractness. A sense of transcendental symmetry emerges, and on cue, a stately chorus preaches its final sermon of moderation to all those really excessive heroes. "Greek tragedy, my dear, decorum," Jean Genet wrote sarcastically in The Blacks. "The ultimate gesture...

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