in The Theatricality of Greek Tragedy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780226477572
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226477565 | DOI:

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In the earliest surviving tragedies by Aeschylus, we find two actors playing roles to a choros but not predominantly deployed for dialogue between characters. In these plays, the choros receives the actors/characters in the playing space, and the situation and state of the choros, expressed in song and dance (choreia), provides the core of the tragic experience. We can understand this mode of composition by looking closely at the script, starting from the location of the choros in the open space of the orchestra and drawing inferences about the approach and address of actors/characters to the choros. In the three linked tragedies of Aeschylus's Oresteia, we can observe the impact of the skene and the presence of three (rather than two) actors on this mode of composition, and detect continuities and adjustments. The choros in ancient Greek tragedy and culture poses a problem of comprehension for us in the modern era, which when examined proves to be a series of interrelated problems.

Keywords: Greek tragedy; Aeschylus; choros; playing space; composition; orchestra; Oresteia; skene; actors

Chapter.  2381 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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