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Representations of Greek tragedy in ancient pottery : a theatrical perspective

Billing, Christian M.



In this article, Christian M. Billing considers the relationship between representations of mythic narratives found on ancient pottery (primarily found at sites relating to the Greek colonies of south Italy in the fourth century BC, but also to certain vases found in Attica) and the tragic theatre of the fifth century BC. The author argues against the current resurgence in critical accounts that seek to connect such ceramics directly to performance of tragedies by the major tragedians: Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Using five significant examples of what he considers to be errors of method in recent philologically inspired accounts of ancient pottery, Billing argues for a more nuanced approach to the interpretation of such artefacts – one that moves beyond an understanding of literary texts and art history towards a more performance-conscious approach, while also acknowledging that a multiplicity of spheres of artistic influence, drawn from a variety of artistic media, operated in the production and reception of such artefacts. Christian M. Billing is an academic and theatre practitioner working in the fields of ancient Athenian and early modern English and European drama. He has extensive experience as a director, designer, and actor, and has taught at a number of universities in the UK and the USA. He is currently Lecturer in Drama at the University of Hull.


Billing, C. M. (2008). Representations of Greek tragedy in ancient pottery : a theatrical perspective. New Theatre Quarterly, 24(3), 229-245.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Aug 1, 2008
Publication Date 2008-08
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal New Theatre Quarterly
Print ISSN 0266-464X
Electronic ISSN 1474-0613
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 3
Pages 229-245
Keywords Visual Arts and Performing Arts
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Nov 13, 2014

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