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From “Discipline and Punish” to the Necessity for the Establishment of Greek Theatre: A Political Study of the Formation of Theatre Spaces in Ancient Greece Based on Michel Foucault’s Ideas

Authors: Payam Foroutan Yekta


The formation of theatre in ancient Greece and the different reasons and arguments about it are still left as an interesting case of discussion, and the origin of the Greek drama is usually sought in the Dionysus Festival. One fundamental element for the transformation of ritual into theatre was the establishment of theatre or places specifically used for performing Greek drama. Despite the theories of social Darwinists in the field of theatre historiography, the present study takes as its point of departure the hypothesis that the procedure of the transformation of Dionysus rituals to theatre has not been an evolutionary one. Our arguments will be based on Michel Foucault’s theory in his seminal book Discipline and Punish, where he holds “power” to be always aiming at the regulation of formless and unpredictable masses in order to predict their movements and behaviours. Thus, it could be argued that by founding theatra, in less than two centuries, Athens’s political system has transformed the primitive, violent and chaotic Dionysus rituals, turning them into theatre in order to control the society as much as possible.

Keywords: Dionysus Rituals, Greek Drama, Theatron, Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, Political System.

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