Date of Award

Fall 12-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Miles C. Doleac

Advisor Department

Mass Communication and Journalism


Finding the origins of tragedy has been a fascinating subject since late antiquity, and it continues to be a source of academic debate. The controversy I have examined is from the early years of our twenty-first century, and has questioned the testimony of Aristotle, opening the debate once again. The evidence continues to prove that tragedy’s origins were religious, and even though there is no hard evidence to prove that it evolved from Dionysiac ritual, there is no hard evidence to disprove this theory either.

I have taken this opportunity to examine the origins of tragedy from its evolution, which I argue cannot be analyzed in isolation as literary genre. The evolution of tragedy was a dual evolution, both literary and political. Its development reflects political changes in Athens during the fifth century. It was in such evolution that tragedy’s themes became other than exclusively religious, and that is the cause of the superficial estrangement between tragedy as genre and tragedy as part of religious ritual.


Honors College Award: Excellence in Research