Thursday, 6 September 2018

Greek drama and the decline of Athens

Above is the second part of Michael Scott’s series Ancient Greece: the Greatest Show on Earth, which traces the central role of comic and tragic theatre in the culture and politics of ancient Greece. In the first part of the series – Democracy – (see it here) Scott established the links between tragedy and democracy in Athens, while in part two – Kings – he examines how theatre spread throughout the Greek world and changed in content and purpose with the decline of Athens in the aftermath of its defeat in the Peloponnesian war and the emergence of Greek kingdoms, such as Macedon. It’s a good narrative and there’s some interesting detail and points but, again, the British talking-head classicists are a dull lot, with the exception of Oliver Taplin. In fact, what is most exciting in the series is the travelogue element. Greece always looks stunning and Scott visits some evocative sites, such as the Syracuse stone quarries where 7,000 Athenian prisoners were held after the disastrous Sicilian expedition in 413 BC and Chaeronea, where the Macedonians led by King Philip the Great defeated an Athenian-led force to claim control over Greece in 338 BC.

* See part three of the series here.