Choregic Dedications and What they Tell Us About Comic Performance in the Fourth Century BC



Two fragmentary reliefs from the Athenian Agora, first published by Webster, constitute our primary evidence for the appearance of the ancient comic chorus. I will reconstruct the monuments from which these fragments were taken and discuss the relationship of the images to choral practice in the Athenian Theatre of Dionysus. I will also adress the question of the unique nature of these two mid-fourth-century reliefs depicting comic choruses and argue that the reliefs belong to a new form of monument placed, like the tripod monuments for men’s and boys’ lyric choruses, on the Street of the Tripods. The new form is the result of a structural change in the sponsorship of comedy by which the choregoi were no longer appointed by the archon but, as in the lyric competitions, by the tribes.