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The Author's Voice in Classical and Late Antiquity$
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Anna Marmodoro and Jonathan Hill

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199670567

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199670567.001.0001

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Listening to many voices: Athenian tragedy as popular art *

Listening to many voices: Athenian tragedy as popular art *

(p.77) 3 Listening to many voices: Athenian tragedy as popular art*
The Author's Voice in Classical and Late Antiquity

William Allan

Adrian Kelly

Oxford University Press

By analysing how the audience interpreted the many voices of tragic performance, this chapter suggests a new model for understanding tragedy’s relationship to the world of the watching community. Although the idea that the poet expresses his personal opinions through the chorus or his characters is now rightly seen as old-fashioned and naïve, it is still legitimate to ask how the poet uses his heroic characters and their voices to speak to his contemporary audience—using ‘speak to’ in the broadest sense, that is, how the poet engages, provokes, and entertains his diverse and demanding audience, with the ultimate aim of winning the prize for the best production in the tragic competition. This chapter argues that tragedy’s status as a popular art-form—where the multiple voices of tragic performance offer something for everyone in the audience—has important implications for the genre’s place in fifth-century Athenian culture, and that a realization of tragedy’s broad appeal opens up the issue of its relationship to civic discourse in new and revealing ways.

Keywords:   Greek tragedy, Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, the audience, Athens in the fifth century

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