Cities and Transcendence: Sophocles and the Politics of Tragedy
Sophocles and the Politics of Tragedy is an inquiry into a fundamental political problem made visible through the poetry of Sophocles. In Part I, Jonathan N. Badger offers a detailed exegesis of three plays: Ajax, Antigone, and Philoctetes with the intent in illuminating a persistent feature of political life, the antagonism between the heroic commitment to the beautiful and the transcendent and the community’s need for bodily safety and material security. In Part II, Badger attempts to apply these examinations to the competing claim of three strands of medieval and early modern political philosophy: ecclesiastical rule, scientific domination, and liberal government. Badger identifies the last of these – early modern liberalism – as a “tragic politics” that seeks to sustain and contain the tension between transcendent longing and material need.