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Title: The Athenian dramatic chorus in the fourth century BC
Author: Jackson, Lucy C. M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 460X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis tackles a conspicuous absence in current scholarship on ancient theatre. Amid the recent scholarly interest in the rapid expansion of the theatre industry from the late fifth-century BC onwards, no study has been made of a central, defining even, element of ancient Greek drama at that time – the chorus. Instead, what we find is a widespread assumption concerning the fourth-century dramatic chorus, particularly with regard to the comic chorus, still prevalent in today’s scholarship: ‘The history of the dramatic chorus is one of decline both quantitatively and qualitatively’, states one of the more detailed recent reviews of the evidence for dramatic choral culture in the ancient world (Csapo and Slater 1995:349). The thesis focuses on the literary sources available to us concerning fourth-century dramatic choruses in Athens. The material is divided into three sections. The first section addresses the important testimony of Aristotle concerning the choruses of his day, particularly in the Poetics (chapter one). The second section analyses the choral text in the (probably fourth-century) Rhesus (chapter two), the interpolated choral passages in the Iphigenia at Aulis and Seven Against Thebes (chapter three), and the choruses of Aristophanes’ Assemblywomen and Wealth, as well as extant fragments of fourth-century comedy (chapter four). The third section is a survey of how the chorus is used in a wide range of fourth-century texts (chapter five), and gives special attention to Plato’s somewhat idiosyncratic presentation of the chorus in his works (chapter six). These analyses show 1) that ‘decline’ is an inappropriate term to describe the development of the chorus and 2) the creativity with which the chorus is used and thought about in fourth-century drama and society. The thesis aims to provide an elucidation of dramatic choral activity in the fourth century and to provoke further interrogation of the assumptions commonly held about the development of both the ancient chorus and ancient drama as a whole.
Supervisor: Budelmann, Felix Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Hellenic (Classical Greek) literature ; Ancient Greek theatre ; chorus ; comedy ; tragedy ; fourth century ; decline