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Actors and Icons of the Ancient Theater

ISBN: 978-1-4443-1804-3
248 pages
January 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
Actors and Icons of the Ancient Theater (1444318047) cover image
Actors and Icons of the Ancient Theater examines actors and their popular reception from the origins of theater in Classical Greece to the Roman Empire
  • Presents a highly original viewpoint into several new and contested fields of study
  • Offers the first systematic survey of evidence for the spread of theater outside Athens and the impact of the expansion of theater upon actors and dramatic literature
  • Addresses a study of the privatization of theater and reveals how it was driven by political interests
  • Challenges preconceived notions about theater history
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List of illustrations vi

Preface viii

List of abbreviations xiii

1 A Portrait of the Artist I: Theater-Realistic Art in Athens, 500–330 BC 1

2 A Portrait of the Artist II: Theater-Realistic Art in the Greek West, 400–300 BC 38

3 The Spread of Theater and the Rise of the Actor 83

4 Kallippides on the Floor Sweepings: The Limits of Realism in Classical Acting 117

5 Cooking with Menander: Slices from the Ancient Home Entertainment Industry? 140

6 The Politics of Privatization: A Short History of the Privatization of Drama from Classical Athens to Early Imperial Rome 168

Bibliography 205

Index 227

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Eric Csapo is Professor of Classics at the University of Sydney, Australia. An expert in ancient drama and in the material, social and economic history of the ancient theatre, Csapo is the author of Theories of Mythology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005) and co-editor of Context of Ancient Drama (with W. J. Slater, 1995) and The Origins of Theater in Ancient Greece and Elsewhere: From Ritual to Drama (with M. Miller, 2006).

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  • Offers the first systematic survey of evidence for the spread of theater outside Athens and the impact of the expansion of theater upon actors and dramatic literature
  • Presents a highly original viewpoint into several new and contested fields of study and examines the realities of everyday life for actors from the time of theater's emergence in Classical Greece to its subsequent demise during the Roman Empire
  • Addresses a study of the privatization of theater and reveals how it was driven by political interests
  • Challenges preconceived notions about theater history
See More

"Csapo's book covers an impressive range of different topics and periods in ancient theatrical history." (The Times Literary Supplement, 8 July 2011)

"No scholar of the ancient theater can afford to ignore the arguments put forward in this stimulating and exciting book." (Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 1 April 2011)

"Csapo provides an excellent collection of Oxford lectures (all revised) that rehearse and challenge old evidence and preconceived theories on the history and image of actors from classical Greece to early imperial Rome...What sets this book apart from similar work is its superb collection and socioeconomic study of extant ancient artifacts. This is a fascinating read of the ancient world and the dynamic relationships between its theatre, politics, and popular culture." (Choice, January 2011)

"Actors and Icons is a compelling account of the development of acting in antiquity, taking actors all the way from adjuncts (hypokritai who ‘answer' the chorus), to famous, favoured members of the imperial circle." (Scholia Reviews, 1 October 2010)

“Eric Csapo has ferreted out an extraordinary quantity of underappreciated evidence, which he pulls together to produce a highly original and convincing history of actors and acting in the ancient world. Essential reading for understanding the whole context of the great achievements of ancient Greek tragedy and comedy.”
Oliver Taplin, Oxford University

"With an excellent command of the many kinds of evidence, E. Csapo focuses on the actor’s image. He gives us a fascinating new history of the ancient theater."
 Brigitte Le Guen, Paris 8 University

“An enthralling read. Nobody brings the world of the ancient theatre alive like Eric Csapo. From the ways Greek actors reduced their audiences to tears or helpless laughter to the economic and political importance of the Roman entertainment industry, he sees vivid details that pass other scholars by. The range of new evidence and insights is breathtaking. Compulsory reading for all historians of ancient theatre, society or culture.”
Edith Hall, Royal Holloway University of London

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