Monday, November 06, 2017

Play in Ancient Greece Interview

The latest issue of The American Journal of Play has an interesting interview with Simon Goldhill, Professor of Greek at the University of Cambridge. Here is a sample:

Did ancient authors regard play as a serious subject for reflection? Did they
celebrate play’s benefits or warn about its dangers?

Goldhill: The ancients discussed play extensively, talking about how to behave at a symposium, what theater meant, or what the role of nonwork—leisure—was in society. They discussed it philosophically, in comedy, and in casual remarks. A host of moralists considered the danger and necessity of humor, for example, and what constituted acceptable playfulness in social discourse. And their discussions were picked up by hundreds of later writers. Aristotle’s definition of wit as “civilized outrageous violence” has been hugely influential. The language in which play was debated, and especially the nature of humor, was set by Greek philosophy, just as the first extended discussion of the value and purpose of social life in the city was by Plato.