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Music and the MusesThe Culture of Mousike in the Classical Athenian City$
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Penelope Murray and Peter Wilson

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199242399

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199242399.001.0001

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Changing Choral Worlds: Song-Dance and Society in Athens and Beyond

Changing Choral Worlds: Song-Dance and Society in Athens and Beyond

Chapter:
(p.39) 2 Changing Choral Worlds: Song-Dance and Society in Athens and Beyond
Source:
Music and the Muses
Author(s):

Barbara Kowalzig (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199242399.003.0003

This chapter is concerned with the changes in choral performance between the archaic world and that of classical Athens. It notes the paradox that whereas democracy brought with it a widening in the social background of choric performers, the chorus itself became increasingly associated with Dionysus. Such exclusivity seems to be at odds with traditional Greek polytheism and the system whereby each god is worshipped individually. Plato's Laws — a fundamental text for our understanding of the relationship between mousike, religion, and society — offers an image of a world in which different gods were worshipped with different types of choral practice. But it does not reflect the reality of contemporary Athens. We are left with a curious contradiction: Dionysus is the democratic god whose worship is open to all, but the Athenian democratic polis dances only for Dionysus.

Keywords:   chorus, Dionysus, polytheism, Plato's Laws, mousike, religion

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