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A Short Introduction to the Ancient Greek Theater

Revised Edition

Contemporary productions on stage and film, and the development of theater studies, continue to draw new audiences to ancient Greek drama. With observations on all aspects of performance, this volume fills their need for a clear, concise account of what is known about the original conditions of such productions in the age of Pericles. 

Reexamining the surviving plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, Graham Ley here discusses acting technique, scenery, the power and range of the chorus, the use of theatrical space, and parody in their plays. In addition to photos of scenes from Greek vases that document theatrical performance, this new edition includes notes on ancient mime and puppetry and how to read Greek playtexts as scripts, as well as an updated bibliography. An ideal companion to The Complete Greek Tragedies, also published by the University of Chicago Press, Ley’s work is a concise and informative introduction to one of the great periods of world drama.

"Anyone faced with Athenian tragedy or comedy for the first time, in or out of the classroom, would do well to start with A Short Introduction to Ancient Greek Theater."—Didaskalia

116 pages | 6 halftones, 4 line drawings | 5 x 8 | © 2006

Ancient Studies

Table of Contents

List of Plans and Illustrations / vii

Preface / ix

Preface to the Revised Edition / ix

Acknowledgments / xi

Introduction / 1

Greek Drama

The Organization of the Festivals

Lesser Dramatic Performances at Athens

The Writer

The Theater


Masks, Costume, and Properties



Reading Texts as Scripts

The Playing Space

The Audience


Distance and Physical Action

Choral Song and Choral Action


Translation and Adaptation

Appendix: Chronology of the Surviving Plays



Commentary on the Plates


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