Bryn Mawr Classical Review 95.10.04

Anton Bierl and Peter von Moellendorff (edd.), Orchestra: Drama Mythos Bühne. Stuttgart: Teubner, 1994. Pp. 380. DM98. ISBN 3-519-07424-9.

Reviewed by W.J. Slater, McMaster University.

Thirty one articles on something to do with theatre are described optimistically by the editors as having "sich aus festlichem Anlass zu einem harmonischen Ganzen zusammengefunden." The festive occasion is the 65th birthday of Helmut Flashar, whose picture adorns the frontispiece, and whose doctoral students and publications since 1990 are listed in the appendix. This date is chosen because his Kleine Schriften EIDOLA appeared in 1989. The rituals of German academic life still encourage such festive offerings, with merry names like Festgrüsse, Eulogia, and suchlike; I count over 120 in my last Anné Philologique from many countries, some so excessively festive as to require four volumes to accommodate the contributors. The grumpy reviewer looks in vain for more appropriate titles like Taedium or Sparagmata.

The articles are desperately subclassified into "Ritual and Historical Background," "Drama and Interpretation," "Staging," "On the Poetics of Drama," "Dramatic Writing and Classical Philology," which range from textual criticism of Alkman to Stravinsky, which is indeed a range that Flashar has covered in his own writings. I copy here the list of Contents, as BMCR usefully requires:

  • H. Zöbeley, Euripides, Herakles 673-686
  • C. Segal, Female Mourning and Dionysiac Lament in Euripides' Bacchae
  • R. Schlesier, Das Löwenjunge in der Milch, Zu Alkman, Frg. 56P.
  • A. Bierl, Karion, die Karer und der Plutos des Aristophanes als Inszenierung eines Anthesterienartigen Ausnahmefestes
  • W. Burkert, Orpheus, Dionysos und die Euneiden in Athen: Das Zeugnis von Euripides' Hypsipyle
  • Andreas Patzer, Sokrates in den Fragmenten der Attischen Komödie
  • U. Hölscher, Schrecken und Lachen. Über Ekkyklema-Szenen im attischen Drama
  • S. Vogt, Das Delphische Orakel in den Orestes-Dramen
  • W. Kullmann, Die Reaktionen auf die Orakel und ihre Erfüllung im König Ödipus des Sophokles
  • J. Bollack, Le garde de l'Antigone et son message
  • G. Most, Sophocles, Electra 1086-87
  • F. Amoroso, Una lettura progressista dell'Andromaca di Euripide
  • E. Vogt, Das Mosesdrama des Ezechiel und die attische Tragödie
  • J. Gruber, Reflexe griechischer Bühnenautoren bei Boethius
  • C. Zimmermann, Tragikerpseudepigraphen (TrGF II ad. F 617-624)
  • B. Andreae, Hellenistisch-Römische Skulpturengruppen und tragische Katharsis
  • E. Pöhlmann, Musiktheorie in spätantiken Sammelhandschriften
  • T. Gelzer, Mythologie, Geister und Dämonen: Zu ihrer Inszenierung in der klassichen Walpurgisnacht
  • E. Lefevre, Sophokles' und Bernt von Heiselers Philoktét
  • D. Bremer, Missverständnisse: Lévi-Strauss, Wagner und der Mythos, Strawinsky, Oedipus und die lateinischen Quantitäten
  • E. Segal, Aristophanes and Beckett
  • M. Fusillo, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Luca Ronconi und die griechische Tragödie. Eine Neuinszenierung von Pilade
  • W. Stroh / Barbara Breitenberger, Inszenierung Senecas
  • H. Heyme, Homer heute
  • B. Seidensticker, Beobachtungen zur sophokleischen Kunst der Charakterzeichnung
  • M. Kraus, Erzählzeit und erzählte Zeit im König Ödipus des Sophokles
  • P. v. Möllendorff, Menanders Samia und die Aristotelische Poetik
  • M. Erler, Episode und Exkurs in Drama und Dialog. Anmerkung zu einer poetologischen Diskussion bei Platon und Aristoteles
  • A. Schmitt, Aristoteles und die Moral der Tragödie
  • W. Suerbaum, Ennius als Dramatiker
  • J. Werner, Welcker als Aristophanes-Übersetzer
  • W. Calder III, Ulrich Graf von Gaure: The Origin of Wilamowitz' Preoccupation with Drama
  • In what follows I note briefly the articles that struck me as of greater interest to the general reader. Most have titles that are self descriptive.

    Burkert, with his usual learning and admirable ability to combine disparate facts, connects Orpheus, Euripides' Hypsipyle, and the Attic family of the Euneidae, and this in turn suggests a further connection with Dionysus and cithara playing. The inference is that the ancient family of the priestly Euneidae are to be associated with a specific kind of Dionysiac cult music, derived from Orpheus himself. This is brilliant and magically persuasive, but now the Derveni papyrus is invoked. Were the Euneidae the keepers of Attic Orpheus hymns? The final suggestion, derived from Pausanias, connects their cult with Alcibiades and the parody of the mysteries. This is the best kind of scholarship, and forces us to realize how much we do not know about religious and cult life in classical Athens, even if we cannot be certain about all these suggestions.

    Patzer's long article on Socrates in Comedy examines in detail the fragments that remain: they add little to what we read in the Clouds. Kullmann takes us on a quick and sensible gallop through views, mostly German, of Oedipus' guilt in the OT, without however telling us what an Athenian audience is supposed to have understood by "Schuld." Most's suggestion of tome accusative of tomeus for the problematic to me in Soph., Elektra 1086 is certainly worth adding high on the list of surgical remedies for that passage, though the remaining suggestions induce aporetic despair in this reviewer. Amoroso's piece on Euripides' Andromache is remarkable for having more footnotes than text, requiring the bifocal vision of a flounder; the result is that the subtext deconstructs the supertext. Her thesis emphasises the role of Andromache in the social problems of the Greek household, and the dramatic resolutions of them.

    Gruber argues that Boethius knew Euripides at first hand, but no other classical Greek dramatist. Poehlmann shows interestingly that certain collections of musical texts are the work of late antiquity, whereby a collector sought to pad out the text of a known author. Several contributors, such as Gelzer deal with the modern staging of classical and classicizing plays, so providing additions to Flashar's own useful Inszenierungen der Antike. Of these the most readable is Stroh/Breitenberger's description of how they produced Seneca for the stage: Stroh is thereby even more convinced that Senecan tragedy is actable, and quotes in English the apt maxim: the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

    In the section on Poetics, Seidensticker's article stands out for its brevity and clarity: he argues for a deliberate accent on individual character by Sophocles, manifested in five different techniques. Many will find this a good starting point for discussion of the problems of tragic character, especially since he is familiar with English language literature. Kraus' article on the OT is very rich in references to theoretical works, but in the end succeeds in telling us very little about the play. P. von Moellendorff, however, gives a helpful survey of the question whether Menander was influenced by Aristotelian dramatic theory, and exemplifies his thesis from the Samia that Menander did develop such a new poetic. M. Erler seeks to discuss theatrical "Selbstbezug" or the related "Metatheatre," in relation to excurses as defined especially in the Platonic Politikos -- the epeisodion problem. The thesis is learned and ingenious rather than persuasive.

    Arbogast Schmitt is one of the most difficult writers on Greek drama. Here he makes the sound -- but not particularly new -- point that emotion and reason are not totally separable in Aristotelian psychology. His conclusion is that the proper goal of Greek tragedy is cultivation of emotion, and it achieves this "durch Steigerung des im Affekt selbst wirksamen Moment der Rationalität." I have a strong feeling that this could be said better and more effectively.

    Suerbaum gives us a valuable and very compressed summary of Ennius the dramatist which is nonetheless an expansion of a piece originally written for the new Handbuch. Definitely worth xeroxing. In a finale W.M. Calder shows that Wilamowitz had considerable practical experience as a youthful actor. One wonders why there are not more signs of "performance criticism" in his commentaries as a consequence.

    In fact it is surprising that there are not more signs of performance criticism in this whole volume. There is no real sense of the realities of the ancient stage, of archaeological problems, of masks, of the audience and its reaction, of festivity, of the theatre's central importance to society, of any answer to the question: "why should I dance?" A strangely musty smell hangs over the whole endeavour.