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Did Greek dramatists write stage instructions?

  • O. Taplin (a1)

Extract

There is no agreement on the answer to this straight and modest question of textual history. As representative of one extreme I may cite Page's excursus in Actors' Interpolations: note ‘the prompt-copy must certainly have contained (among other notes) stage-directions’. He and his allies clearly imply that the original text, whether the dramatist's autograph or some contemporary fair copy, was covered with dozens – indeed hundreds – of stage directions, and that for some reason they were all but eliminated in the course of transmission. For the opposite view I quote David Bain's new book: ‘Such marginalia as we have are for the most part reader's additions and do not constitute part of the paradosis’. In favour of this side is the absence from our texts of all but a handful of the thousands of possible stage directions: on the other hand there is just that smattering in both tragedy and comedy, and they have to be explained.

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References

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NOTES

1. There is a disconcertingly large bibliography for such a little subject. The following will be cited by author's name alone: Andrieu, J., La dialogue antique (1954). Bain, D., Actors and audience (1977). Lowe, J.C.B., ‘The manuscript evidence for changes of speaker in Aristophanes’, BICS 9 (1962) 27ff. Koster, W.J.W., ‘Ad Aristophanis Thesmophoriazusarum fragmenta in PSI 1194 servata’, Acme 8 (1955) 93ff. Page, D.L., Actors' interpolations in Greek Tragedy (1934). Rutherford, W.G., A chapter in the history of annotation (1905). Taplin, O., The stagecraft of Aeschylus (1977). von Wilamowitz, U., Einleitung in die griechische Tragödie ed. 3 (1921).

2. Page 112-15; cf., for example, Wartelle, , Histoire du texte d'Éschyle (1971) 323ff., Handley, , The Dyskolos of Menander (1965) 48, 283.

3. Bain 53 n.2; cf. 18, 132f. The chief authority is Wilamowitz 125f.; cf., for example, Andrieu 188, Weissmann, , Die scenische Anweisungen in den Scholien (1896) 2131 esp. 22, Zwierlein, , Die Recitationsdramen Senecas (1966) 128 n.5.

4. Andrieu passim, esp. 258-82, Lowe passim esp. 35-7. I add a few corroborative observations in Taplin 294.

5. Cf. Page 113, Dover, , Aristophanic Comedy (1972) 10.

6. I argue that the Erinyes are in fact still inside the skene: Taplin 369-74.

7. For some hunting cries see Xen., Kyn. 6. 1720.

8. While we wait for TrGF, reference to papyrus fragments of Aeschylus is becoming unwieldy. This is POxy 2161, fr.474 Mette, 275 Lloyd-Jones, pp. 62-4, 78 in the edition of Werre–de Haas (1961).

9. Pearson's line-numbers throughout.

10. There is a good discussion in Siegmann, E., Untersuchungen zu Sophokles' Ichneutai (1941) 5860.

11. Cf. Taplin 420.

12. In 204-6 the satyrs are not speaking to Silenus, but are saying that they, unlike him, will stay. Hunt was unduly worried about the paragraphoi after 206 and 210 (ed. pr. p.76). They simply mark the parts of the two hemichoruses (or even, as Garden, , BICS 18 (1971) 43–4 suggests, a change of metre).

13. See Siegmann (cited in n.10). Photo in POxy ix plate ii, and Turner, , Greek manuscripts (1971) plate 34.

14. Andrieu 186 includes another fragment of Sophoclean satyr play in his discussion of parepigraphai: POxy 1083 fr. 19 = fr. 6.19 on p.151 in Carden. But though written beneath the lines rather than in the margin this is evidently only an explanatory scholiastic note.

15. E.g.Page 114, Biehl, , Textprobleme in Euripides Orestes (1955) 81–2, also in his commentary (1965) and text (1975). This obscure Apollodorus is no.62 in RE I 2886. Murray even forgets his name and calls him Apollonius.

16. See Wilamowitz 125 n.5, Di Benedetto ad. loc.

17. On the diaeresis see Barrett on Eur., Hipp. 1360; on Rhesus and IA see Fraenkel, , Gnomon 37 (1965) 235.

18. A fascinating instance with considerable consequences for the interpretation of the play is the thunder in Soph. OC. Did it first sound immediately after the Polyneikes scene at 1447 (thus e.g. Elmsley) or at the end of the strophe at 1456 (thus e.g. Jebb)? I favour the latter because Oedipus should respond at once to the long-awaited sign (see 1. 95), because the thunder calls for the clear language of 1456, and because that line, separated with asyndeton from the rest of the strophe, responds closely with 1471; cf. also the asyndetic 1485 = 1499 – evidence perhaps for the musical use of tympani at the end of each strophe?

In that case 1447-55 are the chorus' response to the preceding scene and a guide to our feelings. We have witnessed evils, divinely ordained but none the less It is most frustrating that when the key Sophoclean motif of is introduced in 1453 we run into textual corruption. But I feel fairly sure that before … we want a participle to counterbalance (Hartung), or (Blaydes). If we have the familiar image of the tipping scales, then there is the suggestion that for Oedipus to go up someone else has to go down. In order that he may achieve release and heroization, Polyneikes has to take over his doom, a burden which drags down Antigone also – see lines 1405-46 and 1769-76 at the very end. A note of profound pessimism taints the sublimity of the final scenes of this play.

19. Though Wilamowitz, despite his earlier stance (see n.3) thought that they might go back to Menander; see Das Schiedsgericht (1925)5- There is possibly another exit marked in the margin of Men., Misoumenos 269; see Gomme – Sandbach ad loc. (I owe these references to Dr Colin Austin.)

20. Rutherford 104; cf. Lowe 36, Koster 98; for arguments closer to mine see Russo, , Aristofane, autore di teatro (1962) 66–74, 299302, Gelzer, RE Supp. xii 1551. For full and useful discussion of parepigraphai in comedy see Rutherford 101-14, Koster 96-102.

21 Second century A.D., not B.C. as supposed by Dearden, , The stage of Aristophanes (1976) 184 n.3. For discussion see Koster.

22. The precise text of both lines is open to dispute.

Did Greek dramatists write stage instructions?

  • O. Taplin (a1)

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