Burkert W. -Greek Tragedy and sacrificial ritual

THE PROLIFERATION of theses and hypotheses, of reconstructions and constructions on the subject of the origin of tragedy leads to reflection on a basic problem of philological statements.l Evidently we ought not to expect that we can reduce so complex a phenomenon as Greek tragedy to one single formula of origin.

Every statement is necessarily one-sided. When we are dealing with an evolution, with (Aristotle, Poetics 1449a14), there will be in each case persistence as well as differentiation, yet it is difficult to describe both pertinently at the same time. So, following his own inclinations, a scholar will be apt either to praise the creative achievement of a unique poet, be it Thespis or Aeschylus, or to insist on the primeval elements, with the ritual still preserved. We may collect exact information or formulate precise hypotheses as to the external organization of the Dionysia in the Polis Athens in the sixth century B.C.: temple and theater, chorus of citizens and choregos, masks and actors’ dress, musical instruments, figures of dancing, musical and literary technique in the tradition of choral lyric and the iambos