2. Scripted Speech
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2 Scripted Speech In the previous chapter, I argued that spectatorship and bodily impersonation are the principal features of drama as a practice and as a conceptual category. But with the obvious exception of mime, dramatic impersonation comprises both bodily acts and speech acts. Despite the fact that Aristotle can do away with apsis and can simultaneously reduce the verbal articulation of a play to the reading or recitation of its main events (Poetics 1453bl-7), formal dramatic performance advances by means of the first-person speeches of the actors.1 Indeed, the dramatic actor is referred to in the Greek lexicon as a UJtOXQL'tl)£, whose primary meaning is generally given as "one who gives an answer.I/2 The historical route by which this term comes to designate an actor and how its meaning is appropriate for an actor's performance are uncertain. Nevertheless, it suggests that the dramatic actor is understood first of all in his role as a speaker, or, more precisely, in his role as an impersonator whose impersonations consist of speech acts (contra Aristotle, who emphasizes the tragic action ). No matter what the history of the term, its use confirms the fact that dramatic impersonation in ancient Greece must be understood 1. Aristotle certainly talks about language in the Poetics: AE~LC; is one of the six parts of tragedy. But his interest is essentially philological (i.e., in chaps. 19-22). His definition of tragedy at Poetics 1449b24-28 explains the importance of AOyoC; and of the first-person speech of the actors. But as far as I can tell, he does not talk about tragic speeches as imitations, although he implies that dramatic speech is the vehicle of dianoia. See my discussion in chap. 1. Cf. Martin 1989, 45-47, on the first-person speeches in epic. 2. On UJWXQL'tf]C; as an actor on the stage, see Aristophanes Wasps 1279; Plato Republic 373b; Aristotle Poetics 1449a15-19. Pickard-Cambridge (1968, 131-32) suggests that UJWXQL'tf]C;, meaning "one who answers," is a reference to the importance of the actor's voice in performance. Seaford (1994, 270 n. 153; contra Else 1957) insists that "interpreter" is the original meaning of UJtOXQL'tf]C;, in support of his contention that drama originally developed out of mystery rituals whose "esoteric performance" required interpretation. 42 Scripted Speech 43 within the context of communicative practices. Based on the assumption that dramatic speech occupies a middle position between written speech (the script) and oral speech (in performance), this chapter begins with a look at the oral-literate binary in the Western tradition and goes on to define theatrical, or "scripted," speech as a genderspecific mode of communication within that binary. I will also argue that the nostalgia that governs the critical history of drama in the West is specified in the desire for an idealized speaking subject. It is commonly understood that Western cultures define themselves in terms of a value-laden distinction between the spoken and the written word. Oral speech as direct or nonmediated communication and writing as indirect or mediated communication constitute the common terms of this oral-literate binary. What I am calling "scripted speech" occupies a position between these polarities.3 The term scripted speech may seem oxymoronic at first glance but is meant to provoke a reconsideration of the terms of the opposition between oral speech and speech as a written text. It is also meant to allude to the dramatic script as a particular kind of speech act, an act that can be profitably positioned in the broader context of communicative practices and the ideological assumptions associated with those practices. In the introduction, I suggested that by virtue of their cultural primacy , the Homeric epics establish models for representing human speech and the display of the human body in Greek culture at large. Defined as communication in which there is a recognized or acknowledged dissociation between an original speaker and his words, scripted speech is first illustrated in the message-sending scenes in the epics, in which an intermediary delivers the words of one character to another. I suggest no straightforward historical connection between the message-sending scenes in epic and the performance of a dramatic script but rather a connection based on some shared characteristics. In both cases, a human or divine entity speaks for another; in the case of 3. See Roach 1996, 11-12, on the different but related notion of orature, a term attributed...

Subject Headings

  • Nostalgia -- Greece.
  • Men -- Greece.
  • Nostalgia in literature.
  • Gender identity -- Greece.
  • Masculinity -- Greece.
  • Men in literature.
  • Greek drama -- History and criticism.
  • Literature and society -- Greece.
  • Gender identity in literature.
  • Drama -- Psychological aspects.
  • Masculinity in literature.
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