In Donna Tartt's novel The Secret History, one of the characters defends the reenactment of an ancient bacchanal:

It had to be approached on its own terms, not in a voyeuristic light or even a scholarly one. At the first, I suppose, it was impossible to see it any other way, looking at it as we did in fragments, through centuries. The vitality of the act was entirely obfuscated, the beauty, the terror, the sacrifice. … [W]e didn't believe. And belief was the one condition which was absolutely necessary. Belief, and absolute surrender.1

Like Tartt's cohort of young classicists, the scholars and performers who populate Samuel N. Dorf's Performing Antiquity follow an imperative to know ancient Greece experientially rather than intellectually. In some ways, eccentric figures such as Natalie Clifford Barney and Théodore Reinach might seem more at home in Tartt's novel than in a musicological study, though...

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