Dramatic Lyric

Swift, Laura (2022). Dramatic Lyric. In: Swift, Laura ed. A Companion to Greek Lyric. Wiley, pp. 377–388.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119122661.ch26


This chapter explores the role that lyric plays in Greek drama, both tragedy and comedy. The majority of scholarship on the dramatic chorus explores its functional role within the plays or its status and authority as a character, while fewer studies treat choral passages as lyric poetry in their own right. The chapter focuses on the poetic aspects of choral song: what is distinctive about dramatic lyric, and how it positions itself within the choral tradition. Tragedy is free from any constraints that might govern the original performance of a piece of real-life ritual lyric. Actors' lyric is flexible and can take many forms. The lyric interludes of Aristophanes are on the whole shorter than the odes of Greek tragedy. The chapter considers the role that monodic lyric plays in drama, since actors' song is a feature in our earliest surviving tragedies and becomes increasingly prominent toward the end of the fifth century.

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