The Greek tragic chorus and its training for war: movement, music, and harmony in theatrical and military performance

Will Shuler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


“Information was laid that Sophocles, having become highly esteemed in the teaching of the Antigone, was deemed a worthy general in the Samian expedition.” The claim that the success of the Antigone was causal in Sophocles’ general-ship cannot be certain, yet this fragment begins to reveal the interconnectedness of knowledge at the time. As institutional education focused on music and movement, and most importantly the harmony of both, this chapter positions the theories and practice of ancient Greek choral and military training as a continuation of primary education. As such, choral and military performance contributed to inculcating Athenian cultural knowledge. It will be shown that the training in song and dance for tragic choruses sought to prepare young Athenians for much more than performing in a festival. Through an examination of ancient texts and art alongside Diana Taylor’s notion of that “performances function as vital acts of transfer, transmitting social knowledge, memory, and a sense of identity,” it will become clear that choral rehearsal was also a rehearsal for battle and citizenship.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWar and Theatrical Innovation
Subtitle of host publication"Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance"
EditorsVictor Emeljanow, Don Wilmeth
Publication statusIn preparation - 30 Oct 2016


  • Greek Theatre
  • Ancient Greece
  • War

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