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Hélène Perdicoyianni-Paléologou (New York)

Franco Maiullari (1999): L'interpretazione anamorfica dell' Edipo Re. Una nuova lettura della tragedia sofoclea. Pisa/Roma: Istituti editoriali e poligrafici internazionali.

Franco Maiullari analyzes, in relationship to Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus and the Greek world, issues such as lying, guile and law of silence, painting and dreaming, hetairia, conspiracy and parresia, derision, shame and fault. His study is based on the hypothesis that Oedipus Tyrannus constitutes a twofold tragedy, meaning that it has two layers. Its twofold nature resembles that of a dream, which is both seen and experienced on one hand, and interpreted as well. At the same time, these two aspects or versions of this tragedy are well-balanced, the first and more traditional version of Oedipus' non sapere being already exposed, while the second, anamorphic version of the character's sapere comes to light only gradually. These two aspects or versions of the tragedy are elucidated by a syntactico-grammatical, rhetorical and narrative analysis comprising the object of the study. Although a physician, neuropsychiatrist and psychotherapist by training, Maiullari does not attempt a psychological interpretation of the play but instead offers a critical study of its text.The work begins with a preface written by Oddone Longo, in which he emphasizes the originality and the scientific contribution of Mauillinari's book.

To that is added a long introduction (p. 1–33) concerning the composition and structure of Oedipus Tyrannus . After a brief presentation of some preliminary questions concerning the date of the play's first performance, the scenery, music and costumes, the function of the tragic struggle, the play's significance as a result of its twofold meaning, and, finally, of the reasons why it entails a considerable number of linguistic and narrative incoherences, Maiullari lays out in detail his hypothesis of the double reading of the play and seeks to amplify the analogy with painting. He studies Sophocles' technical skill and picturesque illusion. This allows Maiullari to bring to light that in Vth c. B.C. the skill of twofold level of meaning had reached its peak in painting, philosophy and literature.

Then, he examines the anamorphosis and the balance of the traditional scale with two plateaux exactly lined up on a horizontal surface, which is very ancient and very common in Greek culture; he studies the tragedy in its entirety as if it were but one of the sphinx's enigmas, as well as the linguistic and narrative technique of the two-fold level of meaning. The first (i.e., the linguistic) technique is based on the ambiguous use of the attribute, the object and the predicate, the ambiguous use of the conjugation, the ambiguous use of the verb, the ambiguous use of the word, the syntactico-grammatical structure which is semantically contradictory, the syntactico-grammatical structure which is semantically ambiguous.

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On the other hand, ambiguity / contradiction are based on rhetoric and narrative. They appear in certain rhetorical processes, such as irony and sarcasm expressed for example in the dialogue between Oedipus and Tiresias or Creon, sophism and paradox (v. 707–725, 848–858), as well as in character traits of people in the play, such as forgiveness (v. 105), behavioral incoherence and emotive reaction (v. 703–704, 742–743). To the linguistic and narrative technical analysis is added the study of the concepts of obstacle, against-obstacle and scale. By "obstacle" Maiullari means all circumstances in which the narrative creates perplexity, incoherence and confusion on the level of the general narrative plot, the specific composition of narrative facts and the attitude of persons. By "against-obstacle" the author means all kinds of hermeneutic operations made on the text, which suffices to eliminate obstacles, in order to render the text more linear and coherent. The "against-obstacle" concerns linguistic aspects of the play and appears in the translation and the textual conjectures.

Thereafter follows the analysis of the thematic development fixed around most important axes, such as unit / multiplicity, sapere, appearing in the anamorphic version of the tragedy, / non-sapere, expressed in the traditional version, truth / fiction / pseudos / law of silence, comprising issues concerning aletheia, doxa, parrhesia, hetairiai, synomosiai, anti-religious polemic, chance - tyché, time-chronos appearing with justice -dikè (v. 1213), rhetorical structure of the two-fold level of meaning in the play, dream, which is necessary for the construction of the anamorphic version of the tragedy, etc. The introduction ends with an examination of the double of persons, which helps us understand the tragedy in its traditional and anamorphic interpretations alike, as well as with a study of motives of a hermeneutical derivation and a brief comment of the anamorphical version of the Oedipus Tyrannus .

The introduction is followed by the text, accompanied by a translation and a commentary. The text is divided in three parts. In the first part (v. 1–512), Maiullari distinguishes the following steps: the place of the trial and the song of the Sphinx (v. 1–150), the tyrant and the philosopher (v. 151–299), how we become what we are (v. 300–462), the treason of the people (v. 463–512). The second part (v. 513–862) is called the familial conflict and the law of silence. The third part (v. 863–1530) is subdivided in eight sub-parts: hybris and religion (v. 863–910), a trickster in the tragedy (v. 911–1085), law of silence and confusion (v. 1086–1109), a shock of the period (v. 1110–1185), Caso x Giustizia (xNulla) / Tempo = 0 (v. 1186–1221) (= Chance multiplied by Justice (multiplied by Zero) within the Time comes to zero), shame and death (v. 1222–1296), piety and law of silence (v. 1297–1415), power and law of silence (v. 1416–1530).

The translation is generally accurate and reliable. Maiullari brings to the fore those sentences that bear a particular significance in order to proceed to an anamorphical interpretetation of the tragedy. Moreover, he demonstrates, in the ambiguous sentences, the presence of the word endowed with the function apo koinou. Maiullari has appended an extensive commentary to the text in which he explicates many of the problematic portions of the tragedy.

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In his tendentious attempt to unlock the hidden meaning of the Oedipus Tyrannus , Maiullari takes his place in a long and noble interpretative tradition. His standpoint, however, places Franco Maiullari apart from his precedessors in the demonstration of the two-fold level of meaning in this tragedy. The critical analysis of the text brings to light, on the one hand, the vast work of the double meaning of the word, the sentence and the narrative and, on the other hand, their influence on the entire tragedy. This kind of analysis brings fresh perspectives to the study of this Sophoclean tragedy and confirms the importance in Greek antiquity of the dream and the lie/ fiction.