Kyriakos Charalambides and the House of Atreus: Four Poems


In this article I examine the reception of Greek tragic myth in the work​ ​of Greek-Cypriot poet Kyriakos Charalambides (1940-). Classical literature, myth,​ ​and history are staples of Charalambides’ poetry. Especially from “Meta-History” (1995) onwards, (tragic) myth and history, now a dominant thematics, are used as​ ​instruments for exploring disquieting issues of destiny and identity, increasingly distanced​ ​from the specifics of Cyprus. In his most recent collections (“Desire”, 2012,​ ​and “In the Language of Weaving”, 2013) Charalambides puts myth and tragedy in the service of almost purely aesthetic and metaliterary concerns. In the second part of​ ​the article, by way of example, I offer close readings of a group of poems that concern​ ​the House of Atreus, the most populated group of tragedy-related poems in Charalambides.​ ​In chronological order, I discuss: from “Meta-History” (1995), “Ardana II”;​ ​from “Quince Apple” (2006), “Clytemnestra, Dreaming and Waking”; from “Desire”​ ​(2012), “Agamemnon”; and from “In the Language of Weaving” (2013), “Orestes”.