Emotion in Action: Thucydides and the Tragic Chorus


Emotion in Action: Thucydides and the Tragic Chorus offers a new approach to the tragic chorus by examining how certain choruses ‘act’ on their shared feelings. Eirene Visvardi redefines choral action, analyzes choruses that enact fear and pity, and juxtaposes them to the Athenian dêmos in Thucydides’ History. Considered together, these texts undermine the sharp divide between emotion and reason and address a preoccupation that emerges as central in Athenian life: how to channel the motivational power of collective emotion into judicious action and render it conducive to cohesion and collective prosperity. Through their performance of emotion, tragic choruses raise the question of which collective voices deserve a hearing in the institutions of the polis and suggest diverse ways to envision passionate judgment and action.

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"Visvardi is moving here to some thought-provoking and provocative claims which offer a new approach to debates on the social function(s) of tragedy. (...) [T]here is much interesting material for students of the relevant authors as well as of ancient (and modern) democracy to ponder." Tim Rood, CJ-Online 2016.09.10. ''This book thus offers a wide-ranging and thoughtful investigation of emotion as expressed by different collectives and as harnessed to different goals. It affords much of interest about Thucydidean political discussions and about individual plays, and there is also some fascinating comparative material from, for instance, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (...) In its particular focus, however, on the stimulation and guidance of collective emotion, and on the contribution, which that emotion may make to the polity, the book is a valuable intervention in a debate that is underway in many quarters.'' Barbara Goff, Polis 2018.35
Specialists and readers interested in Greek drama, the tragic chorus, Thucydides, Aristotle, emotion in antiquity, collective emotion and action in democracy – ancient and modern, crowd psychology, aesthetics and politics.

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