As we are currently celebrating the City Dionysia, I thought it would be fitting to have at least a few Dionysos/theatrically themed blog posts this week Today, I would like to start with the surviving plays that competed or won in the City Dionysia over the years.

To the ancient Hellenes, theater was a form of entertainment taken very seriously. People would come from all across the Hellenic world to attend the popular theaters held in open air amphitheaters. In their glory days, some amphitheaters could hold crowds of up to 15,000 people, and some were so acoustically precise that a coin dropped at the center of the performance circle could be heard perfectly in the back row. The theater was a place where politics, religion, the human condition, popular figures, and legends were all discussed and performed with great enthusiasm. The origin of the dramatic arts in Greece would come in the 6th century BC, when the tyrant Pisistratus, who, at the time, ruled the city of Athens, established a series of public festivals. In the 6th century B.C. a priest of Dionysos, named Thespis, introduced a new element that is considered to be the birth of theater.

The (Greater) City Dionysia was and is a true theatric festival of Dionysos. It was and is held on the 10th to 17th days of Elaphebolion and is thought to have been founded, or at least revived, by the tyrant Pisistratus (around 530 BC). It was most famously held in Athens, when the city was once again full of visitors after the winter. The festival honours Dionysos Eleuthereus (Διονυσος Ελευθερευς), who was said to have been introduced into Athens from the village of Eleuterae (Ελευθέραι). The festival focuses on the performance of tragedies, but has included the performing of comedies since 487 BC. We know of a lot of winners (and even some runner up's), but very few of the plays have survived. Here is a complete overview of the winners whose plays have survived.

472 BC – Aeschylus - The Persians
467 BC – Aeschylus - Seven Against Thebes
463 BC – Aeschylus - The Suppliants
458 BC – Aeschylus - The Oresteia (Agamemnon, The Choephori, Eumenides)
447 BC – Sophocles - Antigone
428 BC – Euripides - Hippolytus
409 BC – Sophocles - Philoctetes
405 BC – Euripides - The Bacchae, Iphigenia in Aulis
401 BC - Sophocles - Oedipus at Colonus (posthumous award)

Happy reading! Hail Dionysos!