The incongruous athletes of satyric drama

Pritchard, David (2010) The incongruous athletes of satyric drama. Classicum, 36 2: 11-22.

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Author Pritchard, David
Title The incongruous athletes of satyric drama
Journal name Classicum
ISSN 0155-0659
Publication date 2010-12-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
Volume 36
Issue 2
Start page 11
End page 22
Total pages 12
Place of publication Sydney, N.S.W., Australia
Publisher Classical Association of New South Wales
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Satyric drama introduces athletics much more regularly as an activity than either comedy or tragedy.' The villains of many satyr-plays defeat hapless travellers in a boxing or wrestling bout before murdering them. The settings of other plays are sporting contests where the satyrs of the chorus encounter athletes or try to be competitors themselves. Accounting for why athletics was one of the genre's manifest commonplaces has not proven easy. Richard Seaford for one put this down to the participation of men and boys dressed as satyrs in sporting contests at the Anthesteria. But significant doubts have been raised about whether this festival for Dionysos ever hosted such contests. For Dana Sutton myths of villainous athletes were selected for satyr-plays because of their physicality 3.I.J black-and-white morality, which theatre goers relished after the emotive conundrums Of' tragedy. But Sutton conceded this does not account for why satyr-plays were regularly set at games or have satyrs attempting to be atWetes. These features are explained by the chorus of satyrs, which was considerably more intrinsic to the popularity 'of the genre than was the chorus to either comedy or tragedy. Franyois Lissarrague rightly characterizes satyric behaviour as the antithesis of popular morality. With their unrestrained appetites for sex and wine satyrs clearly lack the cardinal civic virtue of sophrosune ('moderation'). Nor do they have andreia ('manly courage'). Satyric poets got theatre goers to laugh by dropping the chorus into a scenario requiring them to display these virtues. They always fail to do so and only regain their carefree lives through the intercession of Dionysos or a heroic protagonist. Mixing up satyrs and atWetics was a sure way to get this positive response. Athletics and sophrosune went together. Sporting victory required manly courage and the enduring ofponoi ('toils'). As satyrs had neither civic virtue and knew only the 'ponoi' of fornicating and carousing, they were very incongruous athletes. Satyric drama then employed the morally normative activity of athletics as a foil for drawing out the pleasing foibles of its chorus.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
 
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Created: Tue, 22 Mar 2011, 20:52:56 EST by Dr David Pritchard on behalf of School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry