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Headword: *dra=ma
Adler number: delta,1498
Translated headword: act, drama
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning a] thing done, deed. As also to act [means] to do. Drama means also the things done in imitation by theatre-people [= actors] as in playing a speaking part [? = declaiming].[1]
But he planned "to deceive with a smarter act, i.e. deed, the man who had cheated."[2]
Eunapius [writes]: "And, as if to a great and intolerable drama, the god added this episode of Musonius no less terrible."[3]
Greek Original:
*dra=ma: poi/hma, pra=gma. w(s kai\ dra=sai, pra=cai. le/getai de\ dra=ma kai\ ta\ u(po\ tw=n qeatrikw=n mimhlw=s gino/mena w(s e)n u(pokri/sei. o( de\ e)bouleu/sato a)steiote/rw| dra/mati planh=sai to\n h)pathko/ta. toute/sti pra/cei. *eu)na/pios: kai\ tou=to w(/sper dra/mati mega/lw| kai\ traxei= to\ kata\ *mousw/nion e)peiso/dion ou)k e)/latton o( dai/mwn e)ph/negken.
This entry reminds us, as it no doubt reminded its first readers, that the word drama properly meant a '(decisive) act', deriving as a "concrete" verbal noun in -ma from the verb dra/w 'act, achieve' (delta 1488, delta 1489). The semantic history of the word to mean a play acted in a theatre is unclear. The ancient word for an actor, u(pokri/ths, means an 'answerer', referring to his role in the earliest tragedies in answering the choral songs of a chorus. In this entry I translate the related noun as 'playing a speaking part', but by the time of the Suda it meant no more than dramatic performing. It also meant the 'declaiming' of an orator, and this meaning might suit the citation better than "in imitation as in acting a part."
Some scholars link the word to the use of the verb dra/w for performing a sacrifice (LSJ II, web address 1; cf. delta 1508, delta 1510), a ritual that almost certainly lay at the origin of the first dramas.
[1] Likewise or similarly in Photius and other lexica.
[2] From the scholia to Aristophanes, Frogs 902; in a slightly different and better form ("finding an opportunity to deceive" rather than "he planned to deceive") at alpha 4235, with a false attribution to Aristophanes, in a discussion of the word for 'smart, witty, urbane' (cf. alpha 4234, beta 488 note 1).
[3] Eunapius fr. 4 FHG (fr. hist. 43.3 Blockley), more fully at epsilon 2143. (See also alpha 4641.) "This" is an error for "to this," tou/tw|. For Musonius see generally mu 1306; for Eunapius, OCD(4) p.548.
Blockley, R.C., The Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the Later Roman Empire (2 vols., 1981-83)
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: biography; comedy; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; historiography; history; religion; stagecraft; tragedy
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 7 April 2002@15:55:07.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (added keyword; cosmetics) on 4 September 2002@10:23:18.
Elizabeth Vandiver (Added italics) on 10 October 2003@17:35:51.
Catharine Roth (added new note 1) on 21 February 2011@22:21:27.
David Whitehead (another x-ref) on 7 May 2012@08:38:57.
David Whitehead (more keywords; cosmetics) on 17 July 2012@09:29:18.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 1 August 2014@08:22:12.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 15 November 2015@07:32:28.


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