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Actors on High: The Skene Roof, the Crane, and the Gods in Attic Drama


Postprint of article "Actors on High: The Skene Roof, the Crane, and the Gods in Attic Drama" published in Classical Antiquity, volume 9, October 1990, pages 247-94, copyright 1990 by the Regents of the University of California.

Discussion of the probable form of the roof as acting space in the fifth-century Theater of Dionysos in Athens, arguing for flat roof with no regular second story or superstructure above the one-story skene building; means of access to the roof by ladder or trapdoor or the theater crane; use of roof as acting space for human characters, gods, and ghosts; significance of spatial separation of human characters and divine characters and of the distinctiveness of divine locomotion. Appendix 1 lists uses of roof and crane and testimonia about the crane. Appendix 2 argues that crane had the form of a pivoted counterweighted beam (or shadouf) and offers speculation about its dimensions and operations.

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