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The Tangled Ways of ZeusAnd Other Studies In and Around Greek Tragedy$
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Alan H. Sommerstein

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199568314

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199568314.001.0001

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The theatre audience, the Demos, and the Suppliants of Aeschylus *

The theatre audience, the Demos, and the Suppliants of Aeschylus *

Chapter:
(p.118) 7 The theatre audience, the Demos, and the Suppliants of Aeschylus*
Source:
The Tangled Ways of Zeus
Author(s):

Alan H. Sommerstein (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199568314.003.0008

This chapter argues that, in the later 5th century, the Athenian theatre audience was not a representative cross-section of the Athenian public because they were charged a fee to attend, which at that time was not subsidized; this helps to explain the ‘right-wing’ bias typical of Old Comedy (though even then, the audience was preponderantly anti-Spartan and not actively anti-democratic). In the 470s and 460s, however, what we know of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and their plays suggests that the audience more or less mirrored the balance of political opinion in the public as a whole: perhaps in the 450s or 440s the entrance fee was increased. Aeschylus' Suppliants can be seen as criticizing Kimon, from a pro-democratic point of view, over his proposal to give military aid to Sparta in 468/7 or 462.

Keywords:   Athenian, theatre, audience, comedy, democratic, Aeschylus, Suppliants, Sophocles, criticizing

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