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Journal Article

Judging Athenian Dramatic Competitions

C. W. Marshall and Stephanie van Willigenburg
The Journal of Hellenic Studies
Vol. 124 (2004), pp. 90-107
DOI: 10.2307/3246152
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3246152
Page Count: 18
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Judging Athenian Dramatic Competitions
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Abstract

This paper presents a new model for how the voting worked at the Athenian dramatic competitions, and demonstrates its viability mathematically. Previous proposals have either failed to take full account of the ancient sources or have not considered all the possible permutations of judging results. As is generally recognized, ten votes were cast, but in most circumstances not all were counted. Sections I-IV consider the tragic competition at the Dionysia, in which three competitors vied for the prize. For the questions we consider, two likely cases are examined (when the votes are divided 4-3-3 and 5-3-2), then a random distribution covering all possible cases, and finally the situation when two competitors are favoured against a third (when the votes are divided 5-5-0, 5-4-1 and 4-4-2). Section I presents the proposal and situates it within the Athenian cultural context. Section II asks how many lots are typically drawn before a victory is obtained. Section III considers how other places are determined. Section IV introduces the question of 'fairness': does the person who receives the most votes actually win? Section V considers adjudication for comedies and at the Lenaia. Section VI considers dithyrambic competitions.

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