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September 10 , 2010

Lycurgan Athens and the Making of Classical Tragedy


Through a series of interdisciplinary studies this book argues that the Athenians themselves invented the notion of 'classical' tragedy just a few generations after the city's defeat in the Peloponnesian War. In the third quarter of the fourth century BC, and specifically during the 'Lycurgan Era' (338–322 BC), a number of measures were taken in Athens to affirm to the Greek world that the achievement of tragedy was owed to the unique character of the city. By means of rhetoric, architecture, inscriptions, statues, archives and even legislation, the 'classical' tragedians (Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides) and their plays came to be presented as both the products and vital embodiments of an idealised Athenian past. This study marks the first account of Athens' invention of its own theatrical heritage and sheds new light upon the interaction between the city's literary and political history.

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