Initiatives & Events

Classical Dialogues

The Philosophical Stage: Drama and Dialectic in Classical Athens

  • The Philosophical Stage: Drama and Dialectic in Classical Athens
    Joshua Billings Princeton University
    April 5, 2024 - April 5, 2024
    11:00am - 1:00pm -

    Columbia University
The Philosophical Stage
Joshua Billings
Princeton University

As part of its Classical Dialogues series, the Classical Studies Graduate Program at Columbia University is pleased to welcome Joshua Billings, Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at Princeton University. On April 5, from 11am-1pm, he will discuss his book The Philosophical Stage: Drama and Dialectic in Classical Athens (Princeton UP, 2021), which is "a bold new reconception of ancient Greek drama as a mode of philosophical thinking." Introduction by Dhananjay Jagannathan (Columbia University) with commentary by Jake Haagenson (Columbia University). Location: Room 607 Hamilton Hall.

The Philosophical Stage offers an innovative approach to ancient Greek literature and thought that places drama at the heart of intellectual history. Drawing on evidence from tragedy and comedy, Joshua Billings shines a new light on the development of early Greek philosophy, arguing that drama is our best source for understanding the intellectual culture of classical Athens.

In this incisive book, Billings recasts classical Greek intellectual history as a conversation across discourses and demonstrates the significance of dramatic reflections on widely shared theoretical questions. He argues that neither "literature" nor "philosophy" was a defined category in the fifth century BCE, and develops a method of reading dramatic form as a structured investigation of issues at the heart of the emerging discipline of philosophy.

A breathtaking work of intellectual history by one of today's most original classical scholars, The Philosophical Stage presents a novel approach to ancient drama and sets a path for a renewed understanding of early Greek thought.

In its Classical Dialogues series, the interdepartmental Classical Studies Graduate Program CLST at Columbia University invites authors of recent work in ancient studies that is exemplary for the kind of study that CLST aims to foster. All faculty and students at Columbia and beyond are cordially invited. CLST students are required to read carefully at least one chapter or article in advance and prepare questions and comments for discussion.