Ancient Drama in the Medieval World

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The era most crucial to the reception of ancient Greek drama is one usually dismissed as irrelevant or hostile to this process. It was during the Middle Ages that the few remaining vestiges of comedy and tragedy were copied and preserved in their present forms. The establishment of Christianity as the dominant religion of the Roman Empire quickly resulted in the eradication of Classical arts and learning. And because drama was closely associated with ancient (pagan) religious rites, Christian leaders banned the performance of Classical plays. Actors accordingly died out or went underground, as theaters were ransacked or abandoned. Later, Greek‐speaking intellectuals in the eastern part of the Roman Empire, Byzantium, ignored or bowdlerized the texts of plays, which were seldom read and never performed. In the Latin‐speaking West all knowledge of Greek was lost and people were enshrouded in a fog of ignorance.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Handbook to the Reception of Greek Drama
EditorsBetine van Zyl Smit
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)9781118347805
ISBN (Print)9781118347751
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameWiley-Blackwell Handbooks to Classical Reception


  • ancient Greek drama
  • Byzantium
  • Christianity
  • comedy
  • Middle Ages
  • pagan
  • Roman Empire
  • tragedy


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