Articles from the
Oxford Classical Dictionary
staging | theatre structures | theatricality | dancing | Dionysia | Dionysus | emotions | gestures | masks | music | Aristotle | Old comedy | Middle comedy | New comedy | origins of comedy | parody | phallus | satyric drama | satyrs | Aristophanes | Menander | tragedy | Aeschylus | Sophocles | Euripides | mime | Herodas
Many dogmas regarding Greek theatre were established by researchers who lacked experience in the mounting of theatrical productions. In his wide-ranging and provocative study, Clifford Ashby, a theatre historian trained in the practical processes of play production as well as the methods of historical research, takes advantage of his understanding of technical elements to approach his ancient subject from a new perspective. In doing so he challenges many long-held views. Archaeological and written sources relating to Greek classical theatre are diverse, scattered, and disconnected. Ashby's own (and memorable) fieldwork led him to more than one hundred theatre sites in Greece, southern Italy, Sicily, and Albania and as far into modern Turkey as Hellenic civilization had penetrated. From this extensive research, he draws a number of novel revisionist conclusions on the nature of classical theatre architecture and production. The original orchestra shape, for example, was a rectangle or trapezoid rather than a circle. The altar sat along the edge of the orchestra, not at its middle. The scene house was originally designed for a performance event that did not use an up center door. The crane and ekkyklema were simple devices, while the periaktoi probably did not exist before the Renaissance. Greek theatres were not built with attention to Vitruvius' injunction against a southern orientation and were probably sun-sited on the basis of seasonal touring. The Greeks arrived at the theatre around mid-morning, not in the cold light of dawn. Only the three-actor rule emerges from this eclectic examination somewhat intact, but with the division of roles reconsidered upon the basis of the actors' performance needs. Ashby also proposes methods that can be employed in future studies of Greek theatre. Final chapters examine the three-actor production of Ion, how one should not approach theatre history, and a shining example of how one should. Ashby's lengthy hands-on training and his knowledge of theatre history provide a broad understanding of the ways that theatre has operated through the ages as well as an ability to extrapolate from production techniques of other times and places.
This volume brings together archeologists, art historians, philologists, literary scholars, political scientists, and historians to articulate the ways in which western Greek theater was distinct from that of the Greek mainland and, at the same time, to investigate how the two traditions interacted. The chapters intersect and build on each other in their pursuit of a number of shared questions and themes: the place of theater in the cultural life of Sicilian and South Italian 'colonial cities;' theater as a method of cultural self-identification; shared mythological themes in performance texts and theatrical vase-painting; and the reflection and analysis of Sicilian and South Italian theater in the work of Athenian philosophers and playwrights. Together, the essays explore central problems in the study of western Greek theater. By gathering a number of different perspectives and methods, this volume offers the first wide-ranging examination of this hitherto neglected history.
This volume is the most thorough examination on the origins of Greek drama to date. It brings together seventeen essays by leading scholars in a variety of fields, including classical archaeology, iconography, cultural history, theatre history, philosophy, and religion. Though it primarily focuses up on ancient Greece, the volume includes comparative studies of ritual drama from ancient Egypt, Japan, and medieval Europe. Collectively, the essays show how the relationship of drama to ritual is one of the most controversial, complex, and multi-faceted questions of modern times.
An exciting series that provides students with direct access to the ancient world by offering new translations of extracts from its key texts. This book offers a valuable guide to Greek theatre. It presents a broad selection of key ancient sources, both visual and literary, about all aspects of performance - including actors, masks, stage props and choral dancing - as well as scenes from the plays themselves that offer insights into their staging, plots, and reception. The dramatic brilliance of playwrights such as Sophocles, Aristophanes and Menander is brought to the fore by helpful commentary that provides a framework for the interpretation of Greek drama, fleshes out its cultural contexts, and invites students to consider a range of provocative questions.
In this pioneering study Edith Hall explores the numerous different ways in which we can understand the relationship between the real, social world in which the Athenians lived and the theatrical roles that they invented. In twelve studies of role types and the theatrical conventions that contributed to their creation - including women in childbirth, drowning barbarians, horny satyrs, allegorical representations of Comedy, peasant farmers, tragic masks, and solo sung arias - she advances the argument that the interface between ancient Greek drama and social reality must be understood as a complicated and incessant process of mutual cross-pollination.
Much of the theater of antiquity is marked by erasures: missing origins, broken genres, fragments of plays, ruins of architecture, absented gods, remains of older practices imperfectly buried and ghosting through the civic productions that replaced them. Ruins: Classical Theater and Broken Memory traces the remains, the remembering, and the forgetting of performance traditions of classical theater. The book argues that it is only when we look back over the accumulation of small evidence over a thousand-year sweep of classical theater that the remarkable and unequaled endurance of the tradition emerges. In the absence of more evidence, Odai Johnson turns instead to the absence itself, pressing its most legible gaps into a narrative about scars, vanishings, erasures, and silence: all the breakages that constitute the ruins of antiquity. In ten wide-ranging case studies, theater history and performance theory are brought together to examine the texts, artifacts, and icons left behind, reading them in fresh ways to offer an elegantly written, extended meditation on “how the aesthetic of ruins offered a model for an ideal that dislodged and ultimately stood in for the historic.”
In private and in public life, the ancient Greeks danced to express divine adoration and human festivity. They danced at feasts and choral competitions, at weddings and funerals, in observance of the cycles of both nature and human existence. Formal and informal dances marked the rhythms of life and death. In this work, Steven Lonsdale looks at how the Greeks themselves regarded the act of dance, and how dance and related forms of ritual play in Greek religious festivals served a wide variety of functions in Greek society. The act of worship, he explains, often implied engaging in collective rites regulated by playful behavior, the most common forms of which were group hymns and choral dances.
Greek drama has been subject to ongoing textual and historical interpretation, but surprisingly little scholarship has examined the people who composed the theater audiences in Athens. Typically, scholars have presupposed an audience of Athenian male citizens viewing dramas created exclusively for themselves―a model that reduces theater to little more than a medium for propaganda. Women’s theater attendance remains controversial, and little attention has been paid to the social class and ethnicity of the spectators. Whose theater was it? Producing the first book-length work on the subject, David Kawalko Roselli draws on archaeological and epigraphic evidence, economic and social history, performance studies, and ancient stories about the theater to offer a wide-ranging study that addresses the contested authority of audiences and their historical constitution. Space, money, the rise of the theater industry, and broader social forces emerge as key factors in this analysis. In repopulating audiences with foreigners, slaves, women, and the poor, this book challenges the basis of orthodox interpretations of Greek drama and places the politically and socially marginal at the heart of the theater. Featuring an analysis of the audiences of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Menander, Theater of the People brings to life perhaps the most powerful influence on the most prominent dramatic poets of their day.
This interdisciplinary study opens up a fascinating interaction between art and theater. It shows how the mythological vase-paintings of fourth-century B.C. Greeks, especially those settled in southern Italy, are more meaningful for those who had seen the myths enacted in the popular new medium of tragedy. Of some 300 relevant vases, 109 are reproduced and accompanied by a picture-by-picture discussion. This book supplies a rich and unprecedented resource from a neglected treasury of painting.
The Pronomos Vase is the single most important piece of pictorial evidence for ancient theatre to have survived from ancient Greece. It depicts an entire theatrical chorus and cast along with the celebrated musician Pronomos, in the presence of their patron god, Dionysos. In this collection of essays, illustrated with nearly 60 drawings and photographs, leading specialists from a variety of disciplines tackle the critical questions posed by this complex hub of evidence. The discussion covers a wide range of perspectives and issues, including the artist's oeuvre; the pottery market; the relation of this piece to other artistic, and especially celebratory, artefacts; the political and cultural contexts of the world that it was produced in; the identification of figures portrayed on it: and the significance of the Pronomos Vase as theatrical evidence. The volume offers not only the most recent scholarship on the vase but also some ground-breaking interpretations of it.
A collection of essays, by leading international scholars, on the history of the Greek theatre, and on the wider context of festival culture in which theatrical activity took place in the Greek world. The emphasis is on the documentary material - inscriptions, archaeological remains and monuments - which provides so much of our 'hard' evidence for the activities of the theatre. Much of the important material discussed here is unknown except to specialists, and these studies offer access to its interpretation to a wider audience. They cover a wide range of time and place, from the earliest days of the Greek theatre to the Roman period, with special emphasis on the neglected Hellenistic period, which is especially rich in documentary evidence.
These critically diverse and innovative essays are aimed at restoring the social context of ancient Greek drama. Theatrical productions, which included music and dancing, were civic events in honor of the god Dionysos and were attended by a politically stratified community, whose delegates handled all details from the seating arrangements to the qualifications of choral competitors. The growing complexity of these performances may have provoked the Athenian saying “nothing to do with Dionysos” implying that theater had lost its exclusive focus on its patron. This collection considers how individual plays and groups of dramas pertained to the concerns of the body politic and how these issues were presented in the convention of the stage and as centerpieces of civic ceremonies. The contributors, in addition to the editors, include Simon Goldhill, Jeffrey Henderson, David Konstan, Franois Lissarrague, Oddone Longo, Nicole Loraux, Josiah Ober, Ruth Padel, James Redfield, Niall W. Slater, Barry Strauss, and Jesper Svenbro.