Preparation over reading week and for week 7
(For more information about the plotline of the play, see Watts, Derek A. Corneille: Rodogune and Nicomède (London : Grant & Cutler, c1992), and Watts, Derek, 'A further Look at Rodogune', in Ouverture et dialogue, ed. by Döring, Ulrich et al (Tübingen, 1988). Book article.)
- Pinpoint the turning points (reversals) in the play and consider their relation to the question of power.
- The play has been said to have a symmetrical basis. Identify important points of symmetry (a) in the play's structure; (b) between the major characters of the play.
- Draw up a picture of associations with masculinity and femininity in the play. Is there any conflict between natural and political forces here?
EXTRACT 1: Study the first discussion between Séleucus, Antiochus, and their confidents (I, iii). Think particularly about:
- What are the consequences of primogeniture for the princes?
- To what extent do they experience a conflict between desire and duty?
- What is the nature of the twin relationship at this early stage in the play?
EXTRACT 2: Study the dialogue between Laonice and Cléopâtre, II, ii: Think particularly about the following:
- the theme of sight / blindness
- what has Cleopâtre's political strategy been and how can this be connected with her position as a female ruler?
- What kind of language does C use to describe the throne and her attachment to it?
- Is this a turning point in the play? Think about the perspective of the audience? Think also about the role of the confidente here.
EXTRACT 3: Examine the encounter between Séleucus and Antiochus: II, iv.
- What differences can be detected in the twin's responses to the pressing demands of their mother?
- Compare and contrast the language used by each twin to describe their mother.
- Analyse the use of the lexical field of blood here.
- Analyse the twin relationship articulated in the passage.
EXTRACT 4: Examine III, iii (Rodogune's monologue)
- What does Rodogune consider to be her duty in III, iii? To what extent is she in conflict with her advisers, and why?
- Why does she try to resurrect memories of Nicanor? What has changed politically at this point in the play?
EXTRACT 5: Examine III, iv The discussion between Rodogune and the twins
- How do the twins seek to shift the political landscape and the nexus of power at this point?
- How does Rodogune view passionate love?
- How does Rodogune seek to exploit the twins' blood ties to their dead father?
- Examine the language associated with the notion of duty
Critical readings: psychoanalysis / gender
Brainstorm the following assertions, made by Mitchell Greenberg in ‘Rodogune: Sons and Lovers’, in Subjectivity and Subjugation in Seventeenth-Century Drama and Prose: The Family Romance of French Classicism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 87 - 113. This article is available to read here
- ‘The men [in the play] are mired in metaphysical dilemmas which gradually reduce them to positions of indecision, passivity, and ultimately impotence.’ (p. 87)‘
- Rodogune reflects the desire she inspires in the men. She is, most naturally, a perfect “love object,” a mere reflection of desire. […] However, […] Rodogune becomes aware of the political potential of her own appeal.’ (pp. 104 – 105)
- On Cléopâtre: ‘Despite devouring the males who surround her she is not immune to the constantly recurring anxiety that she is not sovereign.’ (p. 107)
Further Research Questions
Think about how the ideas you have covered relate to the reseach topic pages on the wiki. Add some thoughts / images / ideas to some of those pages.
Choose 3 terms of interest that emerge from the text and add them to the glossary.