: conflict; especially : the dramatic conflict between the chief characters in a literary work
Did You Know?
Agon comes from the Greek word agōn, which is translated with a number of meanings, among them "contest," "competition at games," and "gathering." In ancient Greece, agons (the word is also pluralized in English as agones) were contests held during public festivals. The contests—among them the ancient Olympics, on which our modern Olympics is modeled—involved everything from athletics to chariot and horse racing to music and literature. Agon in the realm of literature refers to the dramatic conflict between the main characters in a Greek play or, more broadly, between the chief characters in any literary work. The word is also occasionally used to refer to conflict in general.
"The agon of the central character, self-besieged or plagued by circumstance, runs through the history of the director's films, as does the suspicion that man's brutality to man may have a penitential purpose." — Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 22 Dec. 2016
"There is always a fierce struggle—an agon—in the soul of the poet between her own poetic universe and that which precedes her, and against which she is to make her voice heard." — Costica Bradatan, The Los Angeles Review of Books, 24 Sept. 2017
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