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16 Mar - "How Tragedy Can Heal Society: The Oresteia as Political Therapy" Lecture by Nicolai N. Petro,University of Rhode Island, USA

The visit of Nicolai N. Petro is organised in collaboration with Stefano Bianchini from the Department of Political and Social Sciences.

Mar 16, 2021 from 05:30 PM to 07:00 PM

Where Online on Teams (the link will be made availbale later)

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In classical Greek tragedy, political crises occur in a cyclical pattern. Its express civic function, however, was to break this Tragic Cycle and heal the community by evoking compassion for one's enemy. Unless the protagonist, and through him the audience, could achieve compassion through catharsis—literally, a “restoration of the soul to its proper form and order”—future generations would be condemned to repeat the Tragic Cycle.

This cycle can be broken, however, if the protagonist embraces a compassionate form of justice that extends to all, rather than a partial justice only for the few. Greek audiences were shown how to achieve this social transformation from strife to harmony in Aeschylus’ trilogy, Oresteia. I suggest that recovering this therapeutic function of classical Greek tragedy can be helpful in resolving political and social conflicts today.

Link to Teams: Click here to access

Nicolai N. Petro is Professor of Political Science and the former Silvia-Chandley Professor of Peace Studies and Nonviolence at the University of Rhode Island.. His books include, Ukraine in Crisis (Routledge, 2017), Crafting Democracy (Cornell, 2004), The Rebirth of Russian Democracy (Harvard, 1995), and Russian Foreign Policy, co-authored with Alvin Z. Rubinstein (Longman, 1997). A graduate of the University of Virginia, he is the recipient of Fulbright awards to Russia and to Ukraine, as well as fellowships from the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies in Washington, D.C., and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. As a Council on Foreign Relations Fellow, he served as special assistant for policy toward the Soviet Union in the U.S. Department of State from 1989 to 1990. In addition to his scholarly publications on Russia and Ukraine, he has written for Asia Times, American Interest, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian (UK), The Nation, The National Interest, New York Times, and Wilson Quarterly.

His current project looks at classical Greek tragedy for solutions to the conflict in Ukraine. More information can be found on his professional website: