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Anagnorisis ( Greek for 'recognition') describes in Greek and Roman literature the fact that two people recognize each other.

The anagnorisis is particularly common in tragedy (and there especially in Euripides ), but such scenes already exist in Homer's epic (e.g. in the Odyssey , when Odysseus is recognized by his nurse Eurycleia and finally by his wife Penelope .) Often those involved have not seen each other for years, which makes the initial non-recognition credible. Recognition is finally achieved through certain identifying marks (Greek gnorismata ): In Iphigenia among the Taurians , Iphigenia recognizes Orestes by a letter. Recognition sometimes happens at crucial points in the drama and then causes a peripetia (a change in the plot). Iphigenia is on the verge of killing Orestes before she recognizes him - after which she fled home with him.

Anagnorisis is also used in comedy , for example in Plautus . B. in the Menaechmi (where twins are raised in different places after birth without knowing of the existence of the other; one finds the other after multiple comic mix-ups) and in the Poenulus (in which two Carthaginian girls are sold and by hers her seeking father will be recognized as a hetaera of a coupler).

Anagnorisis in Aristotle

According to the poetics of Aristotle (chap. 11), the anagnorisis is one of the three basic elements (gr. Mére , "parts") of the complicated (literally interwoven) plot (gr. Mythos peplegménos ) - alongside peripetia and severe suffering ( pathos ). He defines it as the transition from ignorance to knowledge (gr. Ex ágnoias eis gnôsin metabolé ). Aristotle therefore takes the term wider and includes the recognition of objects and the knowledge that someone has done or has not done something. Even Oedipus's realization that he himself was the murderer of his father (in Sophocles' Oedipus the King ), sees Aristotle as Anagnorisis. The anagnorisis of persons is best, especially when it occurs together with the peripetia, as in King Oedipus . This is how she can arouse fear and pity the most .

The anagnorisis is popular in the new comedy too ; there it serves to bring a complex plot to a happy ending (e.g. in the Epitrepontes Menanders ).

Later examples

The motif of anagnorisis is also occasionally used in later literature and in films. Molière uses the motif of recognition in some of his comedies to enable a couple in love to have the longed-for wedding, for example in The School of Women , The Miser and Scapin's Pranks .

In Stanley Kubrick's film Clockwork Orange , the main character Alex is recognized by his former victim as his wife's murderer through his whistle. This is the key moment in the film.


Web links

Wiktionary: Anagnorisis  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations