Theater in Greece and Rome

Both publications that will be released by the National Bank’s Educational Foundation in September are about theater. The first publication is a translation of Florence Dupont’s «L’Acteur-roi, ou, le theatre dans la Rome Antique» (original title) by Sofia Georgakopoulou. Dupont is a professor of Latin literature in Paris. Rome was a place where not only spectacles blossomed, but theater as well; already by the time of the Republic, Romans attended the theater 10 times more frequently than Athenians in Classical times. In her book, Dupont presents the different theater genres: tragedy, comedy, mimicry and pantomime, and she argues about the originality of Roman theater. Besides, in Roman society, theater was a place of freedom for Roman citizens, from both the viewpoints of politics and imagination. As for the actors, they fascinated Romans like stars do today, they were paid grandly and were surrounded by admirers. Despite this, they were considered to be in disgrace and were likened to prostitutes. Dupont presents theater as the form of entertainment that took over the private and public life of Romans, leading Augustus to define the Roman citizen as a spectator, dependent on the theater drug. The second publication is Richard Seaford’s «Reciprocity and Ritual: Homer and Tragedy in the Developing City-State» (original title), translated by Vaios Liapis. Seaford is a professor of ancient Greek literature. Combining ancient Greek texts, anthropology and sociopolitical history in an original way, the author explores the development of early Greek literature from the viewpoint of state formation. The development of the city-state played a decisive part in the crystallization of the Homeric tradition of storytelling and the shaping of tragedy, and so greatly influenced ways of thinking at the time. Tragedy reflects and confirms the transition from one form of state to another: from a state that was pretty much absent, to one guided by institutions.