p. 898. The Greatest Show on Earth
- Mary Beard
- and John Henderson
‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ shows how the opposition between nature and culture runs right through Classics. The tragedies of Sophocles, already classics in the fourth century, played a key role as explosive discussions of the norms and limits which human society and the human self must fight to maintain. The power of the scripts, the quality of their ideas, and their communication of sheer horror still command audiences in any theatre. The contrast between Athens' outspoken civic theatre and direct democracy, and the silencing of discussion and repression of the human voice in Imperial Rome is clearly described.