A commentary on the fragments of fourth-century tragedy

Sims, Thomas (2018) A commentary on the fragments of fourth-century tragedy. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Except for the pseudo-Euripidean Rhesus, fourth-century tragedy has almost entirely been lost to the ravages of time, known only through the quotation of a few isolated lines by later writers or preservation on some sand-worn scraps of papyrus. The poor survival of fourth-century tragedy has inevitably led to suggestions of low quality. Recent scholarship, however, has begun to revise these conclusions, recognising a remarkable inventiveness prevalent in the surviving fragments.

This thesis aims to continue the rehabilitation of fourth-century tragedy and takes the form of a commentary on the fragments of Astydamas II, Carcinus II, Chaeremon, and Theodectas, the ‘leading lights’ of this period whose verses comprise over half of what remains. In the introduction, I focus on fourth-century tragedy in general and all its surviving fragments, even those not treated in the commentary. I begin by exploring the internationalisation of this genre and its spread to the Greek-speaking West and East. I then consider the prevalent themes and stylistic features of the fragments and examine fourth-century reaction to fourth-century tragedy, particularly in comedy, oratory, and philosophy. I also discuss fourth-century satyr drama and some of its best surviving examples, including Python’s Agen.

In the commentary, I provide a biography for each poet and explore their reception and that of their work. I then discuss each of their plays in turn, reconstructing plots where possible and providing information about other treatments of a myth in fifth- and fourth-century drama. Finally, I analyse each fragment, focusing on any textual issues, their literary, stylistic, and dramaturgical qualities, and on their relationship within the dramatic tradition and Greco-Roman literature.

Through analysing the fragments in the form of a commentary, I hope to show that far from representing a ‘terminal decline’ as Edna Hooker once lamented, they instead display many remarkable qualities which make them worthy of study in their own right.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Finglass, P.J.
Sommerstein, Alan H.
Thomas, O.
Keywords: Greek literature, fourth-century tragedy, fourth-century satyr drama, Astydamas, Carcinus, Chaeremon, Theodectas
Subjects: P Language and literature > PA Classical philology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 55426
Depositing User: Sims, Thomas
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2019 13:28
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2019 17:46
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/55426

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