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J. Richard Green

The visual element in Greek theatre is demonstrably strong from the time of the earliest formal drama; the importance accorded to stage production may be judged from *Aristophanes(1)'s *parodies of tragic performances in his comedies, or indeed from the whole development of theatre as a genre in the 5th and 4th centsuries bce; if confirmation were needed, it would come from the reservations *Aristotle expresses about production as opposed to composition in his lectures on composition in the Poetics (1450b17–20; 1453b1 ff.).Theatres in antiquity were constantly modified and rebuilt, and the surviving remains give few clear clues to the nature of the theatrical space available to the Classical dramatists of the 5th cent. In the Theatre of Dionysus at Athens, the wall of conglomerate stone (H, with its projection T), which was traditionally taken as belonging to the stage building of the later 5th century, is now thought by some to date to the mid-4th. (See theatres (greek and roman).


Emma Cole

Ancient drama has had a vast influence upon the literary, performance, and intellectual culture of modernity. From ancient Greece thirty-two tragedies, eleven comedies, and one satyr play survive, and from ancient Rome ten tragedies and twenty-seven comedies remain, alongside countless fragments from all genres. Many of the surviving plays are staged in contemporary theatre in both literal translation and more liberal adaptation, and today more ancient drama is seen in professional theatres than at any point since antiquity. Although all ancient dramatic genres have a rich reception history, Greek tragedy dominates the field, particularly in the 20th and 21st centuries. Productions of Greek tragedy today range from masked performances in the original language through to radical, avant-garde, immersive, and postdramatic reinventions. Greek tragedy is also frequently used as a touchstone within literary theory and broader intellectual discourse, from the theorisation of the ideal form of performance (Wagner’s Gesamtkuntswerk) to the development of psychoanalytic theory (Freud’s Oedipus complex) and structuralism (Lévi-Strauss). Ancient drama has also provided inspiration for entirely new dramatic forms; the influence of Roman tragedy, for example, can be felt within the revenge tragedies of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, while traces of Roman comedy can be felt in slapstick comedy and Italian commedia dell’arte. Current growth areas within both artistic practice, and academic research into the reception of ancient drama, include the performance reception of dramatic fragments, an increased interest in forms such as burlesque and pantomime, and the use of ancient drama as a tool of resistance against oppressive political regimes.


W. Jeffrey Tatum

The reception of Caesar constitutes, for obvious reasons, an immense topic. As a political idea, Caesar exhibits from the very beginning a tension between his role as dictator and destroyer of the Republic and his standing as the political and military genius who founded the Empire. This contrariety, not least by way of the analytic category of Caesarism, is especially marked in the political discourse of the 19th and 20th centuries. Caesar’s literary reception, though influenced by contemporary political conflicts, is not always tethered to them in straightforward ways. The Caesar of literature is often a reaction to the Caesar of Shakespeare. And there are other important issues: Caesar as a problem in the recovery of authenticity, or Caesar, because he is a canonical author, as a symbol of the conservative claims of the established order. In art, Caesar the god and Caesar the chivalrous king gradually give way to Caesar the slain dictator or Caesar the imperious conqueror. In popular culture, however, Caesar’s manifestations vary wildly: although he continues to register at a political level, he can also signify imperial excess or martial prowess, and he is available as a medium for lampooning the various guises of his own reception.



Peter G. M. Brown

The parts of a Latin drama with musical accompaniment, as contrasted with deverbia or diverbia (unaccompanied passages, in iambic senarii). Two types may be distinguished: (1) continuous sequences of long lines (septenarii or octonarii) in iambics, trochaics, or anapaests, generally known nowadays as “recitative” lines; (2) passages in a variety of metres, known in antiquity as mutatis modis cantica (“cantica with changes of metre”), in Plautus generally including lyric meters, whereas Terence normally uses combinations of recitative metres. Modern discussions tend to restrict the term to the second type, which is a particular feature of the comedies of Plautus. See metre, latin.

Moore, Timothy J. Recordings of Plautine Cantica .


Ennius was the most prolific poet in the early period of Latin literature and is particularly known for his epic and his dramas. He composed plays for public festivals down to the year of his death, a major narrative epic, a large amount of non-dramatic verse, and at least one work in prose. While Ennius’ entire output only survives in fragments, his life and writings are better documented than those of most other early Republican writers, which is partly the result and an indication of his esteem among the Romans.

Ennius was born in 239bce (Cic. Brut. 72; Tusc. 1.3; Gell. NA 17.21.43; Hieron. Ab Abr. 1777 [p. 133a Helm]) in the Calabrian town of Rudiae (Cic. Arch. 22; Hor. Carm. 4.8.20 with Schol. ad loc.; Strab. 6.3.5 [p. 281 C.]; Ov. Ars am. 3.409–410; Mela 2.66) and claimed descent from the legendary king Messapus (Serv. ad Verg. Aen.


Isabelle Torrance

Euripides was a key figure in the development of ancient drama, and the continuing impact of his work on modern forms of theatre cannot be underestimated. His tragedies were dramaturgically innovative and intellectually challenging. Divine epiphanies, emotionally charged debate scenes, and novel musical performances are all typical in Euripides. Several of his plays exploit the sort of disaster-averted scenario that was one of Aristotle’s favourite plot types and that flourished in operatic adaptations of classical myths. Pointed theological and philosophical questions are raised by characters in Euripides’ plays, and this radical aspect of Euripidean drama explains both why he was a target for contemporary comedians, notably Aristophanes, and why he was dismissed by Nietzsche and others in the nineteenth century. The past century, however, has seen a renewed and reinvigorated appreciation for Euripides, whose dramas have provided a valuable medium not only for artistic expression and experimentation but also for engaging with pressing contemporary social and political issues such as racial discrimination, warfare, postcolonialism, gender fluidity, and PTSD.