As Martin Revermann forecast in 1999, the reception history of Greek drama has become ‘big business’ and, as the present volume demonstrates, we are indeed trying to move beyond the ‘Atheno-centric civic ideology approach to Greek drama, which has, fruitfully, been dominating our mode of thinking for quite some time now'. Nevertheless, like Revermann, I believe that work on the reciprocity ... [Show full abstract] between social context and theatre that Nothing to do with Dionysos? Athenian Drama in its Social Context (1990) so well exemplifies has been and continues to be an important approach to the field. Examining plays not simply as literary works, but as integral parts of social and political systems, remains a useful method of inquiry. Indeed, one strand of useful research may build on the work that has been done to situate Greek drama in Athens to ask similar questions about theatre outside Athens.
In the case of South Italy and Sicily, the problem is particularly pressing. This is not only because of the traditional separation between the fields of philology, epigraphy, history, archaeology, art history and political science, which made comprehensive examination of theatre as a social and political phenomenon difficult in Athens, but also because of competing histories of the development of theatre in the ancient Greek world. In particular, the history of Athenian theatre, both from the literary perspective and now from the socio-political perspective, is so dominant that it often incorporates into its own narrative what evidence there is for theatre outside Attica. Likewise, from the later period, Roman theatre includes the evidence from Sicily and South Italy into its own history, though to a lesser extent. Nothing to Do with Dionysos? may nevertheless serve as a model for the development of a vital, and still missing, perspective on the theatrical evidence that remains from the West. How did drama and the theatre fit into the socio-political contexts of Greek cities outside Attica? Is it possible to write the history of Sicilian and South Italian theatre, or were these new world cities only recipients of the Attic theatre and stepping stones to that of Rome?
I attempt below to set out a few of the questions that, I think, frame the debate. This is a preliminary, tentative examination of some of the problems that arise in this field, and it is not in any way exhaustive.