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Ritual and Performativity

Ritual and Performativity

The Chorus in Old Comedy

Anton Bierl

Translated by Alexander Hollmann

ISBN 9780674023734

Publication date: 02/28/2010

In this groundbreaking study, Anton Bierl uses recent approaches in literary and cultural studies to investigate the chorus of Old Comedy. After an extensive theoretical introduction that also serves as a general introduction to the dramatic chorus from the comic vantage point, a close reading of Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazusae shows that ritual is indeed present in both the micro- and macrostructure of Attic comedy, not as a fossilized remnant of the origins of the genre but as part of a still existing performative choral culture. The chorus members do play a role within the dramatic plot, but they simultaneously refer to their own performance in the here and now and to their function as participants in a ritual. Bierl's investigation also includes an unparalleled treatment of the phallic songs preserved by Semos.


  • Anton Bierl is Professor of Greek Philology at the University of Basel.
  • Alexander Hollmann is Assistant Professor of the Classics at the University of Washington.

Book Details

  • 5-1/2 x 9 inches
  • Center for Hellenic Studies