Objects as Actors: Props and the Poetics of Performance in Greek Tragedy
Objects as Actors charts a new approach to Greek tragedy based on an obvious, yet often overlooked, fact: Greek tragedy was meant to be performed. As plays, the works were incomplete without physical items—theatrical props. In this book, Melissa Mueller ingeniously demonstrates the importance of objects in the staging and reception of Athenian tragedy.
As Mueller shows, props such as weapons, textiles, and even letters were often fully integrated into a play’s action. They could provoke surprising plot turns, elicit bold viewer reactions, and provide some of tragedy’s most thrilling moments. Whether the sword of Sophocles’s Ajax, the tapestry in Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, or the tablet of Euripides’s Hippolytus, props demanded attention as a means of uniting—or disrupting—time, space, and genre.
Insightful and original, Objects as Actors offers a fresh perspective on the central tragic texts—and encourages us to rethink ancient theater as a whole.
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Achilles action actor aegis Aegisthus Aeschylean Aeschylus Aeschylus’s Agamemnon agency Ajax Ajax’s ancient Apollo artifact Athenian Athens audience Aulis body brother chapter characters Choephoroi Chorus cloth Clytemnestra context curse death defixiones Deianeira deictic deltos divine dokimasia dramatic earlier Electra epic Euripidean Euripides Eurysakes evokes fabrics father Finglass gesture Greek hair hands Hector Heracles hero hero’s Hippolytus Hippolytus’s Homeric human Iliad Ion’s Iphigenia Iphigenia at Aulis killed Kreousa letter Man’s material metaphor mother narrative Neoptolemus object Odysseus Oresteia Orestes past performance Phaedra’s Philoctetes physical play play’s plot Poetics present purple Pylades recognition scene recognition tokens reference revenge robe role sakos Salamis scar script sense shield Sophocles sōphrosunē speaking spear spectators speech stage prop suggests suicide sword tablet Taplin Tecmessa Teucer textiles theater theatrical Theseus tion tomb tragedy tragic verb verbal viewers visual weapon words writing Zeitlin γὰρ δὲ ἐν καὶ μὲν ὡς