Function of the Ekkyklema in Greek Theatre: The Sculptural Display of Murdered Victims and the Success of Greek Tragedy for the State

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A new take on the topic with considerable new scholarship about how the ekkyklema worked semiotically, dramaturgically and politically within Greek tragedy. In this fascinating and well-documented cultural study the author explores the proposition that the success of Greek tragedy was connected to the pre-mediated use of religious tropes in the drama, thus triggering profoundly ancient and effective traditional loyalties.


“For a theatre designer to write a scholarly appraisal of ancient Greek theatrical techniques and equipment such as this is a rare bonus for classical studies…[it] is an opportunity for a far more imaginative exploration of Greek theatrical techniques, of the visual aspects of the productions and therefore the responses of the audience and thereby the relevance of the theatrical to the life and politics of the day.”
-Sir John Boardman,
Oxford University

“This study is much more than an account of theatre. It emphasizes the importance of theatre as part of the construction that was the political and religious life of the ancient Greek polis. Professor Eis presents a fair amount of new material, but offers his research and its implications not as facts cast in stone, but ideas to be further explored…a well-supported, fresh view of theatre…”
-Dr. G. Ray Thompson,
Professor of Greek and Roman History,
Salisbury University

“…finding ancient precedents for contemporary circumstances is one of the many and great enlightening benefits of Classical study, and Eis’s research provides an informative wealth of such examples of interest to generalists as well as specialists.”
-Dr. Mark Van Proyen,
Assoc. Professor of Painting and Art History,
San Francisco Art Institute

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
A Special Introductory Foreword by Emeritus Lincoln Professor of Classical Archaeology and Art, Oxford University and the Ashmolean Museum Foreword by G. Ray Thompson, PhD., Professor, Greek and Roman History, Salisbury University, Maryland
Permissions Acknowledgments
Chapter 1: That Old-Time Religion:
Foundations and Resurgence of the Dionysian Cult
Chapter 2: Sources of the Ekkyklema in Ancient Ritual
Chapter 3: Three Traditions: The Pharmakos, the God-in-the-Wagon and the Figure on the Ekkyklema
Chapter 4: Public Sculpture and the Ekkyklema
Chapter 5: The Politics of the Dionysian Festival
Chapter 6: The Festival & Contest: Art Serves the City-State
Chapter 7: Greek Poetry and Other Contributions To The Birth of Tragedy
Chapter 8: Elegiac Poetry and the Ekkyklema: A Previously Under-Researched Connection
Chapter 9: A Dramaturgy of Signs: Gesture, Staging the Plays, and the Ekkyklema
Chapter 10: Choreographic Movement and the Scene Wagon
Chapter 11: The Playwrights and the Recurrent use of the Ekkyklema
Chapter 12; The Ekkyklema: Text and Visual Evidence
Chapter 13: Architecture and Stagecraft: Practical Problems Considered
Chapter 14: The Theatron as a Ritual Space; The Scene Wagon as Ritual / Theatrical Object
Chapter 15: Later Changes to the Theatron and the Ekkyklema
Chapter 16: The Mask Previews the Scene Wagon
Chapter 17: The Ekkyklema and Theatre Images buried With the Dead
Appendix; Sites Sacred to Dionysus In Attica With A Theatre In Or Near These Locations
Works Cited

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