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Ritual in Old Comedy: theatrical representation of cultic performance

Chepel, E. (2016) Ritual in Old Comedy: theatrical representation of cultic performance. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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The study analyses the representations of Greek ritual in plays and fragments of Old Comedy within the religious framework of the dramatic festivals. The main focus is on the rites performed by comic characters as part of fictional plot, such as sacrifices, processions, libations, and prayers. The aim of the study is to explore how playwrights use the elements of Greek religion while building the imaginary world of comedy and linking it to Athenian religious practices. Comic representations of ritual retain basic aspects of actual Greek cult such as the interconnection between ritual speech and ritual act, the centrality of animal sacrificial offerings, and the ritualisation of space and time. These fundamental similarities make Old Comedy a valuable source for the study of Greek cultic performances as well as their religious and social function. At the same time the imitation of rituals in comedy is selective and distortive and cannot be taken for granted as direct reflection of real life. Furthermore, theatrical representations of ritual claim to be authentic and to transform the performance of the comic play into a religiously significant event. The complex multilevel interrelationship between the ritual experience of the audience and the manipulation of this experience in drama through representations allows poets to achieve comic effect and mediate crucial meanings.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Rutherford, I. and Aston, E.
Thesis/Report Department:Department of Classics
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Classics > Ure Museum
ID Code:68908


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