The Theatrical Cast of Athens: Interactions between Ancient Greek Drama and Society

The Theatrical Cast of Athens: Interactions between Ancient Greek Drama and Society

The Theatrical Cast of Athens: Interactions between Ancient Greek Drama and Society

The Theatrical Cast of Athens: Interactions between Ancient Greek Drama and Society

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

One of the most important interpretative problems presented by classical Athenian drama is the nature of the relationship it bore to Athenian social reality. Since the 1970s, which ushered in a reaction against reading the Greek tragic texts primarily as masterworks of timeless aesthetic genius, this relationship has been scrutinized and reformulated by scholars operating within multifarious theoretical models. These have ranged from the influential Marxist-inflected structuralism of Vernant and Vidal-Naquet, to the ritual-anthropological approaches of Foley, Lissarrague, Sourvinou-Inwood, and Seaford; the psychosocial arguments of Griffith; the contextualization of theatre's interests and content within the intellectual and cultural tendencies of the classical period associated with, for example, Goldhill, Zeitlin, Hesk, Wilson, and Ford; to the more specifically historicist readings of Podlecki, Sommerstein or Rosenbloom. The metaphors used to describe this relationship have been numerous; they have included restatements of the ancient proposition that what is on stage 'mirrors' or 'reflects' reality; that it 'refracts' or 'mediates' it; that it 'fertilizes', 'shapes', 'conditions', 'affects', 'influences', 'determines', 'produces', or 'reproduces' it.

See e.g. Vernant and Vidal-Naquet (1988); Foley (1981a), (1985), (1993), (2001);
Lissarrague (1990a), (1990b); Sourvinou-Inwood (1994), (2003); Seaford (1984),
(1994), (2003); Griffith (1995), (1998), (2002); Goldhill (1984), (1986), (2004);
Zeitlin (1980), (1981), (1985), (1991), (1993), (1994), (1996), (2003); Hesk (1999),
(2000), (2003); P. Wilson (1996), (1999–2000), (2000b); Ford (2002); Podlecki (1999);
Sommerstein (1977), (1996a), (2002); Rosenbloom (2002), (2005).

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