Ancient Plays: Are They Musicals?

In: Greek and Roman Musical Studies
Timothy J. Moore Washington University in St. Louis USA

Search for other papers by Timothy J. Moore in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



Almost all ancient plays have three things in common with most modern musicals. First, the basic structure of most ancient plays, like most musicals, involved alternation between song and speech. Second, the songs of ancient plays, like those of musicals, could have a wider cultural relevance, living on beyond their original performance context. Third, in most ancient plays, as in musicals, there is a strong sense that song and dance are as important as, or even more important than, what occurs in spoken dialogue in providing pleasure to the audience and conveying the meaning of plays. Scholarship of the last decade has made clearer the centrality of music to ancient theater and has taken important steps in understanding how that music worked.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 4993 4561 31
Full Text Views 78 28 2
PDF Views & Downloads 175 69 5