This thesis analyzes the text, stage design, and historical context of Lothar Müthel's production of Aeschylus's Oresteia trilogy in 1936, which was sponsored by the National Socialist government during a broader publicity campaign during the Summer Olympics of 1936. The third play, Eumenides (Die Versöhnung in German) has democratic undertones, and therefore seems incompatible with Nazi ideology at first glance. There are three ways in which the Nazis made Müthel's adaptation of Die Versöhnung compatible. First, in the context of the Olympics, the Nazis attempted to draw a connection or relationship between modern German and ancient Greek culture, implying themselves to be successors to ancient Greece. Second, through Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff's interpretations of the Greek word δίκη (justice), a central concept in the Oresteia, the Nazis were able to emphasize the progression of a state from a savage, chaotic period to a new, better civilization, an idea that particularly appeals to Nazi narrative owing to their own recent history with the Weimar Republic. Third, the Nazis shifted focus from the institution of the Areopagus to the role of Athena and interpreted her to be a Germanic goddess. Müthel's adaptation is a good case study in how, through appropriation, a political movement can interpret a text to fit their ideology.
College and Department
Humanities; Comparative Arts and Letters
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Maxwell, Rachel Elizabeth, "Aeschylus and National Socialism: Lothar Müthel's Orestie as Nazi Propaganda" (2016). Theses and Dissertations. 6020.
National Socialism, propaganda, theater, 1936 Summer Olympics, Lothar Müthel