The Chorus of Drama in the Fourth Century BCE: Presence and Representation (Oxford Classical Monographs)

June 13, 2021
The Chorus of Drama in the Fourth Century BCE: Presence and Representation (Oxford Classical Monographs)

The Chorus of Drama in the Fourth Century BCE seeks to upendconventional thinking about the development of drama from the fifthto the fourth centuries and to provide a new way of talking andthinking about the choruses of drama after the deaths of Euripidesand Sophocles. Set in the context of a theatre industry extendingfar beyond the confines of the City Dionysia and the city ofAthens, the identity of choral performers and the significance oftheircontribution to the shape and meaning of drama in the laterClassical period (c.400-323) as a whole is an intriguing andunder-explored area of enquiry. This volume draws together thefourth-century historical, material, dramatic, literary, andphilosophical sources that attest to the activity and qualityofdramatic choruses and, having considered the positive evidence fordramatic choral activity, provides a radical rethinking of twooft-cited yet ill-understood phenomena that have traditionallysupported the idea that the chorus of drama 'declined' in thefourth century: the inscription of χοŕοu~ µε´λοs in papyriand manuscripts in place of fully written-out choral odes, andAristotle's invocation of embolima (Poetics 1456a25-32).It also explores the important role of influential fourth-centuryauthors such as Plato, Demosthenes, and Xenophon, as well asartistic representations of choruses on fourth-century monuments,in shaping later scholars' understanding of the dramatic chorusthroughout the Classical period, reaching conclusions that havesignificant implications for the broaderstory we wish to tell about Attic drama and its most enigmatic andfundamental element, the chorus.