Rehearsals of Manhood: Athenian Drama as Social Practice

    Edited by
  • David M. Halperin
  • Kirk Ormand

A bold reconception of ancient Greek drama by one of the most brilliant and original classical scholars of his generation


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Feb 21, 2023
14 color + 42 b/w illus.
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When John Winkler died in 1990, he left an unpublished manuscript containing a highly original interpretation of the development and meaning of ancient Greek drama. Rehearsals of Manhood makes this groundbreaking work available for the first time, presenting an entirely novel picture of Greek tragedy and a vivid portrait of the cultural poetics of Athenian manhood.

Ancient Athens was a military conclave as well as an urban capital, and male citizens were expected to embody the ideal of the Athenian citizen-soldier. Winkler understands Attic drama as a secular manhood ritual, a collaborative aesthetic and civic enterprise focused on the initiation of boys into manhood and the training, testing, and representation of young male warriors. Past efforts to discover the origins and development of Greek tragedy have largely treated drama as a literary genre, isolating it from other Athenian social practices. Winkler returns Greek tragedy to its social context, showing how it was one among many forms of display and performance cultivated by elite males in ancient Greece.

The final work of a celebrated classical scholar, Rehearsals of Manhood highlights the civic function of the dramatic festivals at classical Athens as occasions for the examination and representation of boys on the verge of manhood, and offers a fresh explanation of how dramatic performance fit into the social life and gender politics of the Athenian state.