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Polytheism and Society at Athens$
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Robert Parker

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199216116

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216116.001.0001

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Religion in the Theatre

Religion in the Theatre

(p.136) 7 Religion in the Theatre
Polytheism and Society at Athens

Robert Parker (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In ancient Greece, plays were performed at public religious festivals, and there are few tragedies that do not contain a reference to a god or gods in the first twenty lines. The cultural context of the two forms of drama is clearly very different; and in the case of Attic, it is sensible to ask what relation exists between the plays and public religion. The more important genre is tragedy, but comedy also receives some attention. At a mundane level, one can study the extent to which the religious world of tragedy resembles that of contemporary Athens, and can thus be exploited by the historian as a source. The tragedies have reflected, but must also have shaped, the religious experience of the citizens, of which they formed a part. The theatre, it can be argued, was the most important arena in Athenian life in which reflection on theological issues was publicly expressed.

Keywords:   theatre, religion, tragedy, comedy, ancient Athens, Greece, cults, festivals, drama

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