Skip to main content

Vision and Stagecraft in Sophocles

In this study, David Seale argues that Sophocles’s use of stagecraft, which has thus far received little attention, was as sophisticated as that of Aeschylus or Euripides. His discussions of the physical and visual elements of Sophocles’s seven plays center around the theme of sight; he demonstrates that each play is staged to maximize the implications and effects of “seeing” and not “seeing,” of knowledge and ignorance. This emphasis on visual perception, Seale maintains, harmonizes with Sophocles’s use of verbal and thematic techniques to create dramatic movements from delusion to truth, culminating in climaxes that are revelations—moments when things are truly “seen” by both audience and characters.

270 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 1982

Ancient Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: Classical Languages


“Interesting . . . with considerable percipience. ‘Vision’ is studied in both internal and external senses. Internally, within the tragedies, there is the pervasive interplay of ignorance and knowledge, secrecy and revelation, illusion and reality, seeing and blindness, sight leading to horror, sight leading to pity. . . . The external sense of ‘vision’ . . . is less well-trodden ground: the use of the visible in order to enhance the audience’s perception of the play. Seale is good at this theatrical approach, and draws out many details without resorting to undue speculation.”

Oliver Taplin | Phoenix, a journal of the Classical Association of Canada

“A new approach. In place of a general commentary on Sophoclean stagecraft or a close study of a particular problem in stagecraft itself, verbal texture and theatrical spectacle are linked through a study of the theme of vision. Seale suggests that a Sophoclean drama is typically a movement from illusion to true sight. This movement is represented both in the language, as characters speak of what they see, and in the spectacle, in which reality is presented before the audience. The great advantage of this approach is the immediate relevance it gives to the spectacle, which embodies the revelation to which the drama leads. . . . Stimulating and enlightening.”

Ruth Scodel | Echos du Monde Classique/Classical Views

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press