The dithyramb, a choral song associated mostly with the god Dionysos, is the longest-surviving form of collective performance in Greek culture, lasting in its shifting shapes from the seventh century BC into late antiquity. Yet it has always stood in the shadow of its more glamorous relations - tragedy, comedy, and the satyr-play. This volume, with contributions from international experts in the field, is the first to look at dithyramb in its entirety, understanding it as an important social and cultural phemen of Greek antiquity. Dithyramb in Context explores the idea that the dithyramb is much more than a complex poetic form: the history of the dithyramb is a history of changing performance cultures which form part of a continuous social process. How the dithyramb functions as a marker, as well as a carrier, of social change throughout Greek antiquity is expressed in themes as various as performance and ritual, poetics and intertextuality, music and dance, and history and politics. Drawing together literary critics, historians of religion, archaeologists, epigraphers, and historians, this volume applies a wide historical and geographical framework, scrutinizing the poetry and, for the first time, giving due weight to the evidence of epigraphy and the visual arts.
Barbara Kowalzig is Associate Professor of Classics and History at New York University, and an Associate of the Centre Louis Gernet in Paris. Her research focuses on religion, music and performance, and cultural and economic anthropology in ancient Greece and the Mediterranean. She is the author of Singing for the Gods: Performances of Myth and Ritual in Archaic and Classical Greece (2007; 2011) and has published widely on Greek song-culture, ritual, and drama. Peter Wilson is William Ritchie Professor of Classics at the University of Sydney and the inaugural Director of the Centre for Classical & Near Eastern Studies of Australia. He is the author of The Athenian Institution of the 'Khoregia': the Chorus, the City and the Stage, Greek Theatre and Festivals: Documentary Studies (2007) and Performance, Reception, Iconography: Studies in Honour of Oliver Taplin (with M. Revermann, 2008).