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The Metamorphoses of Ancient Myths

Edited By Malgorzata Budzowska, Burc Idem Dincel, Jadwiga Czerwinska and Katarzyna Chizynska

This book gives a comprehensive overview of the phenomenon of artistic dialogue with ancient myths. The contributions assume a double-track research approach. The contributors investigate the procedure of myths' recycling within Greco-Roman antiquity, and they consider modern re-occupations of myths in dramatic literature and theatre. Providing various examples of myths' reception from antiquity to present days, this book confirms the persistent human need of re-mythization.

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Death in Theatre. Between Word and Image (Małgorzata Budzowska)


Małgorzata Budzowska*

Death in Theatre. Between Word and Image1

Abstract: As Horace explained in his Ars Poetica, one of the phenomena that should not be seen on stage is death, or more precisely, the act of dying (AP 182–184). In tragedy, death was always connected with violence of others (murder) or with self-aggression (suicide). This rule of decorum, already existing in ancient Greek theatre as prepon, arose from the conviction that seeing death onstage would be a break of an aesthetic order. In the article, this aesthetic issue is considered on the basis of the assumption that the act of dying could not be shown and seen because of the sympathetic and ethical nature of mimetic diegesis in theatre, as it was discussed by Aristotle, Cicero and Horace. Tragedy on stage pretended to be a mimesis of life on the edge of death, therefore the performance could consist only of signals of approaching death and, subsequently, of post-mortem signs. Nevertheless, death was staged by shouting out from the skene or, more often, in extended messengers’ reports in Greek tragedy and in pathetic ekphraseis in Roman drama. Furthermore, in Roman drama, against decorum, the death scenes were acted out on stage as it is epitomised in Seneca’s dramas. All these cases are studied on the example of Euripides’, Aeschylus’ and Seneca’s tragedies and scholia commentaries. In the second part, the paper focuses on stage procedures employed in death scenes in contemporary Polish productions of ancient...

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