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26 July 2018 Start
27 July 2018 End
Australia Centre for Classical and Near Eastern Studies, Room 480, Level 4, Madsen Building, University of Sydney

e-mail.: [email protected]

Theatre and Autocracy in the Ancient World

July 26-27, 2018

Theatre and Autocracy in the Ancient World: a Conference to be held at the University of Sydney in July.

Plato claimed that poets of tragic drama ‘drag states into tyranny and democracy’. The word order is very deliberate: he goes on to say that tragic poets are honoured ‘especially by the tyrants, and secondly by the democracies’ (Republic 568c). For more than forty years scholars have explored the political, ideological, structural and economic links between democracy and theatre in ancient Greece. By contrast, the links between autocracy and theatre are virtually ignored, despite the fact that in the first 200 years of its existence more than a third of all theatre-states were autocratic. For the next 600 years, theatre flourished exclusively in autocratic regimes. The conference brings together experts in ancient theatre to undertake the first systematic study of the patterns of use made of the theatre by tyrants, regents, kings and emperors. For two generations theatre has, as an instrument of mass communication, been characterised as ancient democracy’s supreme cultural artefact. Our conference will explore the historical circumstances and means by which autocrats turned a medium of mass communication into an instrument of mass control.


Lucia Athanassaki (University of Crete), Ewen Bowie (Oxford University), Bob Cowan

(University of Sydney), Eric Csapo (University of Sydney), Anne Duncan (University of

Nebraska-Lincoln), Simon Goldhill (Cambridge University), Hans Goette (German

Archaeological Institute and University of Giessen), Chris Kraus (Yale University), Brigitte

Le Guen (University of Paris 8), Chris de L’Isle (Oxford University), Nino Luraghi

(Princeton University), Elodie Paillard (Universities of Basel and Sydney), Simon Perris

(University of Wellington), Jelle Stoop (University of Sydney), Paul Touyz (Princeton

University), Peter Wilson (University of Sydney)

Conference organisers

Eric Csapo (University of Sydney), J. R. Green (University of Sydney), Brigitte Le Guen (University of Paris 8),

Elodie Paillard (Universities of Basel and Sydney) Jelle Stoop (University of Sydney), Peter Wilson (University of Sydney)


Registration and attendance is free.

Please confirm your place by emailing Billy Kennedy by July 2nd, 2018 at: [email protected]