International Journal of the Classical Tradition

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 375–393 | Cite as

“The world’s a circular stage”: Aeschylean tragedy through the eyes of Eva Palmer-Sikelianou

  • Gonda Van Steen


At the first Delphic Festival of 1927, Eva Palmer-Sikelianou presented a pioneering out-door production of Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound. Three years later, she staged repeat performances of the Prometheus and added a new production of Aeschylus' Suppliant Women. At first sight, it appears as if, at both festivals, Palmer-Sikelianou paid minimal attention to stage-design, whereas she took care personally of nearly all other production aspects. This study, however, based on the preserved photographic evidence, shows that Palmer-Sikelianou's philosophical conception of the “sacred” space of the ancient theater at Delphi, i.e., its near-circular orchestra and its open-view setting within the surrounding mountains, inspired her choice of an elemental stage-design. Influenced by Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, she stressed circular and centripetal movements, as her choreography demonstrates. On a larger plan, the Delphic orchestra was, for her, part of the ur-form of the dynamic circle, shaped here by Delphi's natural landscape, which rendered additional sets superfluous.


Classical Tradition Greek Tragedy Rare Book Collective Emotion Ancient Theater 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gonda Van Steen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ClassicsUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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