The article takes the case of Yaël Farber’s performance Molora (an adaption of the ancient Greek tragedy Oresteia to the specific historical South African moment of transition to democracy and the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission) as a departing point to delve into the question of the translatability of tragedy. With such a proposition in mind, the argument is informed by the relatively new field of cultural translation studies. Against this background, the translatability of the epistemological conditions of the Aristotelian concept of tragedy and its Western legacy will be considered.
By proposing to translate the traditional notion of tragedy as literary dramatic genre to conceive of tragedy as event the article will delve into ethical questions concerning the human condition in relation to fate, which enhance guilt, judgement, the collision of force and law and the quest for justice. To connect these questions to tragedy, a distinction has to be made between the ethos of tragedy as an artistic form and the pathos (the grief) of those who experience a disaster or ruin in a situation of everyday life.