Classical Athens

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This work package is set in its entirety in the context of the new institution of Athenian democracy in the 5th century BCE and the anchoring practices discernible in this major transition.

The ‘democratic revolution’ consisted of a wave of innovations, not only new political institutions, but also the intensive use of coinage, new building programs, new techniques, and new social relationships, including a new position and valuation for citizen women, and an on-going transition from oral to written communication. New literary genres emerge, especially drama and rhetoric. While classical Athens remains one of the most intensively studied periods of ancient history due to its momentous achievements and the wealth of evidence, the concept of ‘anchoring innovation’ offers a new perspective.

An ‘anchoring’ perspective was applied to literary, political, religious, economic and philosophical issues in other work packages, allowing new connections in this one, in which we will use the Athenian theater as an environment in which many new elements of Athenian society in need of anchoring can be drawn together. Drama is by definition a public genre, written to be performed in a religious and ‘political’ setting (the festival of Dionysus, celebrated by the polis community) for an audience trained in active listening. As a communal celebration, it offers intellectual and emotional input to the community of citizens. We study ‘anchoring’ here in three ways.