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date: 16 January 2021

tragedy, Greeklocked

  • Richard Seaford,
  • Patricia E. Easterling
  •  and Fiona Macintosh

Extract

Tragedy, one of the most influential literary forms that originated in Greece, is particularly associated with Athens in the 5th cent. bce, the period that saw its most distinctive development. All but one of the surviving plays date from the 5th cent. (the exception, Rhesus, attributed to *Euripides, is probably 4th cent.), but these represent only a tiny sample of the vast body of material produced from the late 6th cent. onwards; new plays were still being composed as late as the 2nd cent. ce. The popularity of the dramatic festivals at Athens attracted interest in other cities, with the result that performances of tragedy rapidly became common elsewhere, and what began as a medium reflecting the life of a particular community acquired universal appeal in the Greek-speaking world. By the end of the 3rd cent. bce, Roman translations and adaptations began to extend the range of its influence still further.

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