Theater of the People: Spectators and Society in Ancient Athens

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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

Phoenix - Kate Bosher
Roselli does not hide the fragmentary and contradictory state of the evidence for ancient audiences, and he takes important steps towards reconciling and explaining much of it. Although he discusses some modern theoretical frameworks for understanding theater audiences, particularly in his introduction and first chapter, he does not allow unifying theories to guide the inclusion or exclusion of evidence. The result is a rich and winding path through a huge amount of material.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292723948
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2011
  • Pages: 362
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

DAVID KAWALKO ROSELLI is Associate Professor of Classics at Scripps College. He is the author of several articles and essays on the drama, social history, and culture of ancient Greece.
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Table of Contents

Conventions and Abbreviations Used Acknowledgments Introduction. Theater and People in Athens Chapter 1. The Idea of the Audience and Its Role in the Theater Chapter 2. Space and Spectators in the Theater Chapter 3. The Economics of the Theater: Theoric Distributions and Class Divisions Chapter 4. Noncitizens in the Theater Chapter 5. Women and the Theater Audience Epilogue Notes Bibliography Index
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