Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dawn growing grey

In Greek drama, before the invention of the skene (a scene building), the open air theatres had no sets beyond what was provided by the stage and the sky. It is possible to identify moments where the landscape was brought into play: references to the rising sun which would have coincided with the dawn, when some performances started. For example, at the start of Euripides play Iphigenia at Aulis, Agamemnon tells an attendant

Away! already the dawn is growing grey, lighting the lamp of day yonder and the fire of the sun's four steeds...

Another play that starts before dawn is Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, where a watchman waits for news of the capture of Troy. Reading these lines now can take you directly to a sense of the time and space in which these plays were first performed...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this reminds me of Anne Fadiman's comments about reading books in the places they describe or where they were written (in Ex Libris, confessions of a common reader)