Talking of Festivals: the Status of Choruses and Choregia

TitleTalking of Festivals: the Status of Choruses and Choregia
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsScullion, S
EditorBrandt, RJ, Iddeng, JW
Ancient AuthorsDemosthenes Orat. (TLG 0014)
Book TitleGreek and Roman Festivals: Content, meaning, and practice
PublisherOxford University Press

The chapter argues that festival choregia was not seen at Athens as a religious duty. Greek authors emphasize relaxation, pleasure, and entertainment, as though festivals were regarded in primarily secular terms. The introduction of the new term ‘circular choruses’, in preference to such cultic designations as ‘dithyramb’, suggests that choral performance too was subject to ‘secularization’. Detailed consideration of Demosthenes’ speech Against Meidias confirms that the orator is ‘spinning’ his case by implying that striking a choregus amounts to impiety: he is not assuming that this is the customary view of Athenian jurors but trying to induce them to adopt it ad hoc. Oratory confirms that Athenians did not talk about the choregia in religious terms; rather they depict expenditure on choregiai, as they never do expenditure on sacrifice, as blameworthy extravagance. Demosthenes’ speech on the law of Leptines demonstrates clearly that choregia was not classified among ‘sacral matters’. []


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