The Partheneion, or “maiden song,” composed in the seventh century BCE by the SpartanpoetAlcman, is the earliest substantial example of a choral lyric. A provocative reinterpretation of the Partheneion and its broader context, Alcman and the Cosmos of Sparta excavates the poem’s invocations of widespread and long-lived cosmological ideas that cast the universe as perfectly harmonious and invested its workings with an ethical dimension.
Moving far beyond standard literary interpretations, Gloria Ferrari uncovers this astral symbolism by approaching the poem from several angles to brilliantly reconstruct the web of ancient drama, music, religion, painting, and material culture in which it is enmeshed. She shows, for example, that by stringing together images of horses, stars, and birds, the poem evokes classical antiquity’s beloved dance of the constellations. Instrumental in shaping the structure of the lyric, this dance symbolizes the cosmic order reflected in the order of the state, which the chorus would have enacted in a ritual performance of the song.
With broad implications for archaeology, art history, and ancient science, Ferrari’s bold new analysis dramatically deepens our understanding of Greek poetry and the rich culture of archaic Sparta.
Women's and men's worlds were largely separate in ancient Mediterranean societies, and, in consequence, many women's deepest personal relationships were with other women. Yet relatively little scholarly or popular attention has focused on women's relationships in antiquity, in contrast to recent interest in the relationships between men in ancient Greece and Rome. The essays in this book seek to close this gap by exploring a wide variety of textual and archaeological evidence for women's homosocial and homoerotic relationships from prehistoric Greece to fifth-century CE Egypt.
Drawing on developments in feminist theory, gay and lesbian studies, and queer theory, as well as traditional textual and art historical methods, the contributors to this volume examine representations of women's lives with other women, their friendships, and sexual subjectivity. They present new interpretations of the evidence offered by the literary works of Sappho, Ovid, and Lucian; Bronze Age frescoes and Greek vase painting, funerary reliefs, and other artistic representations; and Egyptian legal documents.
Archaic Bookkeeping brings together the most current
scholarship on the earliest true writing system in human
history. Invented by the Babylonians at the end of the
fourth millennium B.C., this script, called proto-cuneiform,
survives in the form of clay tablets that have until now
posed formidable barriers to interpretation. Many tablets,
excavated in fragments from ancient dump sites, lack a clear
context. In addition, the purpose of the earliest tablets
was not to record language but to monitor the administration
of local economies by means of a numerical system.
Using the latest philological research and new methods
of computer analysis, the authors have for the first time
deciphered much of the numerical information. In
reconstructing both the social context and the function of
the notation, they consider how the development of our
earliest written records affected patterns of thought, the
concept of number, and the administration of household
economies. Complete with computer-generated graphics keyed
to the discussion and reproductions of all documents referred
to in the text, Archaic Bookkeeping will interest
specialists in Near Eastern civilizations, ancient history,
the history of science and mathematics, and cognitive
Foregrounding critical questions about the tension between the study of drama as literature versus the study of performance, Melinda Powers investigates the methodological problems that arise in some of the latest research on ancient Greek theatre. She examines key issues and debates about the fifth-century theatrical space, audience, chorus, performance style, costuming, properties, gesture, and mask, but instead of presenting a new argument on these topics, Powers aims to understand her subject better by exploring the shared historical problems that all scholars confront as they interpret and explain Athenian tragedy.
A case study of Euripides’s Bacchae, which provides more information about performance than any other extant tragedy, demonstrates possible methods for reconstructing the play’s historical performance and also the inevitable challenges inherent in that task, from the limited sources and the difficulty of interpreting visual material, to the risks of conflating actor with character and extrapolating backward from contemporary theatrical experience.
As an inquiry into the study of theatre and performance, an introduction to historical writing, a reference for further reading, and a clarification of several general misconceptions about Athenian tragedy and its performance, this historiographical analysis will be useful to specialists, practitioners, and students alike.
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.
The Context of Ancient Drama
Eric Csapo and William J. Slater University of Michigan Press, 1995 Library of Congress PA3024.C75 1995 | Dewey Decimal 792.0938
Ancient theater has always caught contemporary interest, despite the eclectic nature of the surviving evidence. Tourists wander the remains of buildings at Epidauros and Athens, and generations of people have pondered Medea and Oedipus, yet it can be surprisingly difficult to find reliable, accessible information on these plays and their theaters. The Context of Ancient Drama remedies this situation. It provides, in modern English translation, documents that illustrate all aspects of the drama of antiquity, other than the text of the dramas themselves. For convenience the material is grouped in thematic sections, such as "music," or "judging." The illustrations give well-known examples of the kind of evidence that has survived to us. Plans of theaters are provided, to exemplify the outlines of the buildings' development, and an extensive glossary of terms offers information to the interested amateur and the theater specialist alike. The Context of Ancient Drama will be of interest to a wide spectrum of students and teachers. Theater historians, students of dramatic performance and the visual arts, and students and teachers in literature-in-translation courses will all find much that speaks to them.
The most up-to-date sourcebook on warfare in the ancient Near East
Fighting for the King and the Gods provides an introduction to the topic of war and the variety of texts concerning many aspects of warfare in the ancient Near East. These texts illustrate various viewpoints of war and show how warfare was an integral part of life. Trimm examines not only the victors and the famous battles, but also the hardship that war brought to many. While several of these texts treated here are well known (i.e., Ramses II's battle against the Hittites at Qadesh), others are known only to specialists. This work will allow a broader audience to access and appreciate these important texts as they relate to the history and ideology of warfare.
References to recent secondary literature for further study
Early Greek and Chinese illustrative texts for comparisons with other cultures
"Through well-informed and nuanced readings of key documents from the fourth through fourteenth centuries, this book challenges historians' long-held beliefs about how concepts of Greco-Roman theater survived the fall of Rome and the Middle Ages, and contributed to the dramatic triumphs of the Renaissance. Dox's work is a significant contribution to the history of ideas that will change forever the standard narrative of the birth and development of theatrical activity in medieval Europe."
---Margaret Knapp, Arizona State University
"...an elegantly concise survey of the way classical notions of theater have been interpreted in the Latin Middle Ages. Dox convincingly demonstrates that far from there being a single 'medieval' attitude towards theater, there was in fact much debate about how theater could be understood to function within Christian tradition, even in the so-called 'dark ages' of Western culture. This book makes an innovative contribution to studies of the history of the theater, seen in terms of the history of ideas, rather than of practice."
---Constant Mews, Director, Centre for the Study of Religion & Theology, University of Monash, Australia
"In the centuries between St. Augustine and Bartholomew of Bruges, Christian thought gradually moved from a brusque rejection of classical theater to a progressively nuanced and positive assessment of its value. In this lucidly written study, Donnalee Dox adds an important facet to our understanding of the Christian reaction to, and adaptation of, classical culture in the centuries between the Church Fathers and the rediscovery of Aristotle."
---Philipp W. Rosemann, University of Dallas
This book considers medieval texts that deal with ancient theater as documents of Latin Christianity's intellectual history. As an exercise in medieval historiography, this study also examines biases in modern scholarship that seek links between these texts and performance practices. The effort to bring these texts together and place them in their intellectual contexts reveals a much more nuanced and contested discourse on Greco-Roman theater and medieval theatrical practice than has been acknowledged. The book is arranged chronologically and shows the medieval foundations for the Early Modern integration of dramatic theory and theatrical performance.
The Idea of the Theater in Latin Christian Thought will be of interest to theater historians, intellectual historians, and those who work on points of contact between the European Middle Ages and Renaissance. The broad range of documents discussed (liturgical treatises, scholastic commentaries, philosophical tracts, and letters spanning many centuries) renders individual chapters useful to philosophers, aestheticians, and liturgists as well as to historians and historiographers. For theater historians, this study offers an alternative reading of familiar texts which may alter our understanding of the emergence of dramatic and theatrical traditions in the West. Because theater is rarely considered as a component of intellectual projects in the Middle Ages, this study opens a new topic in the writing of medieval intellectual history.
The Life of Comedy after the Death of Plautus and Terence documents the ongoing popularity of Roman comedies, and shows that they continued to be performed in the late Republic and early Imperial periods of Rome. Playwrights Plautus and Terence impressed audiences with stock characters as the young-man-in-love, the trickster slave, the greedy pimp, the prostitute, and many others. A wide range of spectators visited Roman theaters, including even the most privileged members of Roman society: orators like Cicero, satirists like Horace and Juvenal, and love poets like Catullus and Ovid. They all put comedy’s varied characters to new and creative uses in their own works, as they tried to make sense of their own lives and those of the people around them by suggesting comparisons to the standard personality types of Roman comedy.
Scholars have commonly believed that the plays fell out of favor with theatrical audiences by the end of the first century BCE, but The Life of Comedy demonstrates that performances of these comedies continued at least until the turn of the second century CE. Mathias Hanses traces the plays’ reception in Latin literature from the late first century BCE to the early second century CE, and shines a bright light on the relationships between comic texts and the works of contemporary and later Latin writers.
Roman Siege Warfare
Josh Levithan University of Michigan Press, 2013 Library of Congress UG443.L47 2013 | Dewey Decimal 355.440937
Roman siege warfare had its own structure and customs, and expectations both by the besieged and by the attacking army. Sieges are typically sorted by the techniques and technologies that attackers used, but the more fruitful approach offered in Roman Siege Warfare examines the way a siege follows or diverges from typical narrative and operational plotlines. Author Josh Levithan emphasizes the human elements—morale and motivation—rather than the engineering, and he recaptures the sense of a siege as an event in progress that offers numerous attitudes, methods, and outcomes. Sieges involved a concentration of violent effort in space and the practical challenge posed by a high wall: unlike field battles they were sharply defined in time, in space, and in operational terms.
Chapters examine motivation and behavior during a siege and focus on examples from both the Roman Republic and the Empire: Polybius, Livy, Julius Caesar, Flavius Josephus, and Ammianus Marcellinus. Levithan examines the “gadgetary turn,” during which writers began to lavish attention on artillery and wall-damaging techniques, fetishizing technology and obscuring the centrality of the assault and of human behavior.
This volume speaks to classicists and historians of all stripes. All passages are translated, and references are accessible to nonspecialists. Military historians will also find much of interest in the volume, in its treatment both of Roman military conduct and of wider military practice.
Edited by Augusto Fraschetti University of Chicago Press, 2001 Library of Congress HQ1136.R6613 2001 | Dewey Decimal 305.4094563
This collection of essays features important Roman women who were active in politics, theater, cultural life, and religion from the first through the fourth centuries. The contributors draw on rare documents in an attempt to reconstruct in detail the lives and accomplishments of these exceptional women, a difficult task considering that the Romans recorded very little about women. They thought it improper for a woman's virtues to be praised outside the home. Moreover, they believed that a feeble intellect, a weakness in character, and a general incompetence prevented a woman from participating in public life.
Through this investigation, we encounter a number of idiosyncratic personalities. They include the vestal virgin Claudia; Cornelia, a matron; the passionate Fulvia; a mime known as "Lycoris"; the politician Livia; the martyr and writer Vibia Perpetua; a hostess named Helena Augusta; the intellectual Hypatia; and the saint Melania the Younger. Unlike their silent female counterparts, these women stood out in a culture where it was terribly difficult and odd to do so.
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.”
Contemporary productions on stage and film, and the development of theater studies, have created a new audience for ancient Greek drama. This volume fills the need for a clear, concise statement of what is known about the original conditions of production for tragedy, comedy, and satyr play in the age of Pericles and provides observations on all aspects of performance.
Reexamining the surviving plays of the tragic writers Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides and of the comedian Aristophanes, Graham Ley discusses the actor's technique, the power and range of the chorus, the use of theatrical space, and parody in the plays. A series of diagrams relates the theater to the city and political life of ancient Athens, and photographic illustrations of scenes from Greek vases document the visualization of theatrical performance.
An ideal companion to The Complete Greek Tragedies (University of Chicago Press), Ley's work is a valuable user's guide to the critical assessment of modern translations and adaptations of tragedy and comedy. It is designed for all students of Greek drama with an interest in performance, and for theatrical practitioners who require a concise but informative introduction to one of the great periods of world drama.
Contemporary productions on stage and film, and the development of theater studies, continue to draw new audiences to ancient Greek drama. With observations on all aspects of performance, this volume fills their need for a clear, concise account of what is known about the original conditions of such productions in the age of Pericles.
Reexamining the surviving plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, Graham Ley here discusses acting technique, scenery, the power and range of the chorus, the use of theatrical space, and parody in their plays. In addition to photos of scenes from Greek vases that document theatrical performance, this new edition includes notes on ancient mime and puppetry and how to read Greek playtexts as scripts, as well as an updated bibliography. An ideal companion to The Complete Greek Tragedies, also published by the University of Chicago Press, Ley’s work is a concise and informative introduction to one of the great periods of world drama.
"Anyone faced with Athenian tragedy or comedy for the first time, in or out of the classroom, would do well to start with A Short Introduction to Ancient Greek Theater."—Didaskalia
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.
Ancient Greek tragedy has been an inspiration to Western culture, but the way it was first performed has long remained in question. In The Theatricality of Greek Tragedy, Graham Ley provides an illuminating discussion of key issues relating to the use of the playing space and the nature of the chorus, offering a distinctive impression of the performance of Greek tragedy in the fifth century BCE.
Drawing on evidence from the surviving texts of tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, Ley explains how scenes with actors were played in the open ground of the orchestra, often considered as exclusively the dancing place of the chorus. In reviewing what is known of the music and dance of Greek antiquity, Ley goes on to show that in the original productions the experience of the chorus—expressed in song and dance and in interaction with the characters—remained a vital characteristic in the performance of tragedy.
Combining detailed analysis with broader reflections about the nature of ancient Greek tragedy as an art form, this volume—supplemented with a series of illustrative drawings and diagrams—will be a necessary addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in literature, theater, or classical studies.