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The Pre-Play Ceremonies of the Athenian Great Dionysia: A Reappraisal

GIANNOTTI, ANDREA (2019) The Pre-Play Ceremonies of the Athenian Great Dionysia: A Reappraisal. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This doctoral thesis focuses on the dramatic festival of the Great (or City) Dionysia and its related pre-play ceremonies, for which the role of democracy has been intensely debated. Scholars have explored the socio-political value of the festival’s pre-play ceremonies which took place in the theatre before the dramatic performances, in front of the audience: the libation to Dionysus poured by the ten generals, the display of the allies’ tributes, the Athenian war-orphans’ parade and the public proclamation of honours and crowns. The prevailing view still relates the celebration of these rituals to democratic ideology. However, this assumed situation masks a number of issues. Through four chapters, each dedicated to one pre-play ceremony, first I show that the four pre-play ceremonies did not occur simultaneously, and thus should not be understood as part of a holistic and democratically-oriented propaganda programme. As a second step, an exhaustive investigation into the historical sources and socio-political value of the ceremonies is provided: it will be shown that democracy and the ideology related to it were less involved than one might suppose. Lastly, I highlight that the Dionysia and its pre-play ceremonies were not exclusively Athenian prerogative: from a thorough examination of the available evidence, I demonstrate that many attestations of the Dionysia outside Athens occur and need to be considered. This problematises the Athenocentric interpretations of the Dionysia’s pre-play ceremonies, since many cities which were not democracies (as Athens was) provide testimonies of dramatic festivals with comparable pre-play ceremonies. In light of these crucial details, the premier dramatic festival of Athens — and the academic discussion surrounding its ideological value — need to be re-examined.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Athens; Dionysia; Ideology; Democracy; Epigraphy; Ancient History; Drama
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Classics and Ancient History, Department of
Thesis Date:2019
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 May 2019 14:04

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