Was Attic Tragedy Democratic?

Polis 21 (1-2):1-25 (2004)
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This article begins with a detailed response to Simon Goldhill's paper in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, 107 , on the civic ideology surrounding Attic tragedy. His view, that the Dionysia was a festival promoting the values of the democratic polis, requires substantial qualification. I then suggest my own interpretation of the evidence Goldhill cites for ceremonies at the Dionysia, referring also to several of the dramas. Tragedy at the Dionysia was presented in front of an audience from all over the Greek world. As a result, political ideas in tragedy for the most part are relevant both to democracies and to other cities; where Athens appears in tragedy, it tends to be presented more as a benevolent imperial power, and less often as a democracy



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