Ritual and Performativity: The Chorus in Old Comedy
by Anton Bierl
translated by Alexander Hollmann
Harvard University Press, 2009
Paper: 978-0-674-02373-4
Library of Congress Classification PA3166.B5413 2009
Dewey Decimal Classification 882.010917

In this groundbreaking study, Anton Bierl uses recent approaches in literary and cultural studies to investigate the chorus of Old Comedy. After an extensive theoretical introduction that also serves as a general introduction to the dramatic chorus from the comic vantage point, a close reading of Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazusae shows that ritual is indeed present in both the micro- and macrostructure of Attic comedy, not as a fossilized remnant of the origins of the genre but as part of a still existing performative choral culture. The chorus members do play a role within the dramatic plot, but they simultaneously refer to their own performance in the here and now and to their function as participants in a ritual. Bierl's investigation also includes an unparalleled treatment of the phallic songs preserved by Semos.
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