, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 82–94 | Cite as

‘The carcasse speakes’: Vital corpses and prophetic remains in Thomas May’s Antigone

  • Penelope Meyers UsherEmail author
Original Article


This article examines Thomas May’s Antigone (c. 1631), a play deeply engaged in making sense of somatomancy (body divination) in the context of violence and tragedy, in demonstrating the paradoxical vitality of the prophetic corpse (which occupies an indeterminate position between life and death, between being an active prophetic agent and a passive prophetic instrument), and in puzzling out the role of the mutilated body in producing tragic knowledge. In its reworking of Sophocles, Lucan, and other tragic source material, May’s tragedy brings to light a crucial triadic relationship between the violated body, knowledge, and tragic form, showing how the body – because of the violence to which it is submitted, and via the privileged knowledge it produces – propels tragic action.



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© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.English DepartmentNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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