Lit. ‘teaching’, came to be used in Greece as the standard term for the production of a performance at a dramatic festival. Dithyrambs, tragedies, satyr‐plays (see satyric drama), and comedies were all performances that entailed the ‘teaching’ (didaskein) of choruses; didaskalia denoted both the training of the chorus and actors and the production itself, whether of a single play or of a group, and eventually was applied to a poet's entire output. The pl. didaskaliai was used of the official list of productions staged at a particular festival; this is the sense in which modern scholars use the word. The keeping of such records by the archontes in charge of the festivals is probably as old as the institution of choregia.
The earliest example of dramatic records inscribed on stone dates from the 340s bc, which for each year's City Dionysia gives the names of the archon, the winning tribe and chorēgos in the boys' and men's dithyrambic chorus, and the victorious choregos and poet in comedy and tragedy, with the name of the victorious leading actor added after the introduction of the contest for the best actor in 449. The beginning of this inscription is missing: the earliest year listed is 473/2, but the record probably went back to the late 6th cent.
Aristotle probably composed his lost books Victories at the Dionysia, Didaskaliai, and On Tragedies at Athens in the period 334–322. He too must have drawn on the archontes' records, and his work must have been a source for the Alexandrian scholars who worked on drama and the festivals. Some traces of this research are evident in the hypotheseis to some of the surviving plays. The most important of the later inscriptions from Athens is a list, going back to the 5th cent., of tragedies and comedies at the City Dionysia and the Lenaea, which gives the name of the archon, the poets in order of success, and the title of each play with the name of the leading actor who took part in it.
Subjects: Classical studies