E. Paillard, The Stage and the City

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Elodie Paillard, The Stage and the City, Paris, 2017.

Éditeur : De Boccard
Collection : Chorégie
268 pages
ISBN : 978-2-7018-0430-9
59 €

The relationship between Classical Athenian tragedy and democracy remains a much-discussed problem which deserves to be examined from as many points of view as possible. Although Sophocles has sometimes been seen as less tied to his contemporary world than other authors, his works are nonetheless closely related to their democratic context, both as a product of their time and as a mean of encouraging their audiences to reflect on major political questions.
This book explores the staging of non-élite characters in the seven extant tragedies of Sophocles and how they related to contemporary middling citizens. The structure of fifth-century Athenian society underwent deep changes between the early and late plays of Sophocles. The appearance and growing political importance of a middling socio-political group of citizens played a crucial role in the development of Athenian democracy and this phenomenon is closely linked to the way in which non-élite characters are presented in Sophocles' plays.
To lead to a better understanding of the links between Sophoclean tragedies and democracy, the book analyses the text of Sophocles' extant plays with as great care as it examines the structure of Athenian society on the basis of both historical and archaeological sources.
The performances of Sophocles' tragedies not only reflected changes that took place in the structure of contemporary society but also fostered such changes by attributing increasingly active roles to characters with whom middling citizens could easily identify.