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Ancient Greek theatre was a theatrical
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior, institutions, and Social norm, norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the ...
that flourished in
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, classical antiquity ( AD 600), th ...
from 700 BC. The
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereign city which serves as the center of political, economic, and cultural life over its contiguous territory. They have existed in many parts of the world since the dawn of history, including cities such as ...
of
Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is a coastal city in the Mediterranean and is both the capital and largest city of Greece. With a population close to four million, it is also the seventh largest c ...
, which became a significant cultural, political, and religious place during this period, was its centre, where the theatre was
institution Institutions are humanly devised structures of rules and norms that shape and constrain individual behavior. All definitions of institutions generally entail that there is a level of persistence and continuity. Laws, rules, social conventions a ...
alised as part of a
festival A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect or aspects of that community and its religion Religion is usually defined as a social- cultural system of designated behaviors and p ...
called the
Dionysia The Dionysia (, , ; Greek language, Greek: Διονύσια) was a large Athenian festivals, festival in ancient Athens in honor of the god Dionysus, the central events of which were the Greek drama, theatrical performances of dramatic tragedy, ...
, which honoured the god
Dionysus In ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, myth, Dionysus (; grc, wikt:Διόνυσος, Διόνυσος ) is the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking, orchards and fruit, vegetation, fertility, insanity, ritual madness, religious ecstas ...
.
Tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, wiktionary:τραγῳδία, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowful events that befall a tragic hero, main character. ...
(late 500 BC),
comedy Comedy is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, film, stand-up comedy, television, radio, books, Entertainment, or any other entertainment medium. T ...
(490 BC), and the
satyr play The satyr play is a form of Attica, Attic theatre performance related to both comedy and tragedy. It preserves theatrical elements of dialogue, actors speaking verse, a chorus that dances and sings, masks and costumes. Its relationship to tragedy ...
were the three
drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a g ...
tic
genre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a Category of being, category of literature, ...
s to emerge there. Athens exported the festival to its numerous colonies. Modern Western theatre comes, in large measure, from the theatre of ancient Greece, from which it borrows technical terminology, classification into genres, and many of its themes,
stock character A stock character, also known as a character archetype, is a fictional character in a work of art such as a novel, play, or a film whom audiences recognize from frequent recurrences in a particular literary tradition. There is a List of stock cha ...
s, and plot elements.


Etymology

The word grc, τραγῳδία, tragoidia, label=none, from which the word "
tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, wiktionary:τραγῳδία, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowful events that befall a tragic hero, main character. ...
" is derived, is a compound of two
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
words: grc, τράγος, tragos, label=none or "goat" and grc, ᾠδή, ode, label=none meaning "song", from grc, ἀείδειν, aeidein, to sing, label=none. This etymology indicates a link with the practices of the ancient Dionysian cults. It is impossible, however, to know with certainty how these fertility rituals became the basis for tragedy and
comedy Comedy is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, film, stand-up comedy, television, radio, books, Entertainment, or any other entertainment medium. T ...
.


Origins

The Greeks valued the power of a spoken word, and it was their main method of communication and storytelling. Bahn and Bahn write, "To Greeks the spoken word was a living thing and infinitely preferable to the dead symbols of a written language."
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher from Classical Athens, Athens who is credited as the founder of Western philosophy and among the first moral philosophers of the Ethics, ethical tradition of thought. An enigmati ...
himself believed that once something has been written down, it lost its ability for change and growth. For these reasons, among many others, oral storytelling flourished in Greece.
Greek tragedy Greek tragedy is a form of theatre from Ancient Greece and Greek inhabited Anatolia. It reached its most significant form in Athens in the 5th century BC, the works of which are sometimes called Attic tragedy. Greek tragedy is widely believed t ...
as it is presently known was created in Athens around the time of 532 BC, when
Thespis Thespis (; grc-gre, Θέσπις; fl. 6th century BC) was an Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is o ...
was the earliest recorded actor. Being a winner of the first theatrical contest held in Athens, he was the , or leader, of the
dithyramb The dithyramb (; grc, διθύραμβος, ''dithyrambos'') was an Ancient Greece, ancient Greek hymn sung and danced in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility; the term was also used as an epithet of the god. Plato, in ''Laws (dialogu ...
s performed in and around Attica, especially at the Rural Dionysia. By Thespis' time, the dithyramb had evolved far away from its cult roots. Under the influence of heroic epic, Doric choral lyric and the innovations of the poet
Arion Arion (; grc-gre, wikt:Ἀρίων, Ἀρίων; Floruit, fl. c. 700 BC) was a kitharode in ancient Greece, a Dionysus, Dionysiac poet credited with inventing the dithyramb. The islanders of Lesbos Island, Lesbos claimed him as their native son, ...
, it had become a narrative, ballad-like genre. Because of these, Thespis is often called the "Father of Tragedy"; however, his importance is disputed, and Thespis is sometimes listed as late as 16th in the chronological order of Greek tragedians; the statesman
Solon Solon ( grc-gre, wikt:Σόλων, Σόλων;  BC) was an History of Athens, Athenian statesman, constitutional lawmaker and poet. He is remembered particularly for his efforts to legislate against political, economic and moral decline in A ...
, for example, is credited with creating poems in which characters speak with their own voice, and spoken performances of
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') (born ) was a Greek poet who is credited as the author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. Homer is considered one of the ...
's epics by
rhapsode A rhapsode ( el, ῥαψῳδός, "rhapsōidos") or, in modern usage, rhapsodist, refers to a classical Greece, classical Greek professional performer of epic poetry in the fifth and fourth centuries BC (and perhaps earlier). Rhapsodes notably ...
s were popular in festivals prior to 534 BC. Thus, Thespis's true contribution to drama is unclear at best, but his name has been given a longer life, in English, as a common term for performer—i.e., a "thespian." The dramatic performances were important to the Athenians – this is made clear by the creation of a tragedy competition and festival in the
City Dionysia The Dionysia (, , ; Greek: Διονύσια) was a large festival A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect or aspects of that community and its religion Religion is usua ...
(or Great Dionysia). This was organized possibly to foster loyalty among the tribes of Attica (recently created by
Cleisthenes Cleisthenes ( ; grc-gre, Κλεισθένης), or Clisthenes (c. 570c. 508 BC), was an ancient Athenian lawgiver credited with reforming the constitution of ancient Athens and setting it on a Athenian democracy, democratic footing in 508 BC. Fo ...
). The festival was created roughly around 508 BC. While no drama texts exist from the sixth century BC, the names of three competitors besides Thespis are known: Choerilus, Pratinas, and Phrynichus. Each is credited with different innovations in the field. Some information is known about Phrynichus. He won his first competition between 511 BC and 508 BC. He produced tragedies on themes and subjects later exploited in the
Golden Age The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology, particularly the ''Works and Days'' of Hesiod, and is part of the description of temporal decline of the state of peoples through five Ages of Man, Ages, Gold being the first and the one during ...
such as the ''Danaids'', ''Phoenician Women'' and ''Alcestis''. He was the first poet we know of to use a historical subject – his ''Fall of Miletus'', produced in 493–2, chronicled the fate of the town of Miletus after it was conquered by the Persians. Herodotus reports that "the Athenians made clear their deep grief for the taking of Miletus in many ways, but especially in this: when Phrynichus wrote a play entitled ''The Fall of Miletus'' and produced it, the whole theatre fell to weeping; they fined Phrynichus a thousand drachmas for bringing to mind a calamity that affected them so personally and forbade the performance of that play forever." He is also thought to be the first to use female characters (though not female performers). Until the
Hellenistic period In Classical antiquity, the Hellenistic period covers the time in History of the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean history after Classical Greece, between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as sig ...
, all tragedies were unique pieces written in honour of Dionysus and played only once; what is primarily extant today are the pieces that were still remembered well enough to have been repeated when the repetition of old tragedies became fashionable (the accidents of survival, as well as the subjective tastes of the Hellenistic librarians later in Greek history, also played a role in what survived from this period).


New inventions during the classical period

After the Achaemenid destruction of Athens in 480 BC, the town and acropolis were rebuilt, and theatre became formalized and an even greater part of Athenian culture and civic pride. This century is normally regarded as the Golden Age of Greek drama. The center-piece of the annual
Dionysia The Dionysia (, , ; Greek language, Greek: Διονύσια) was a large Athenian festivals, festival in ancient Athens in honor of the god Dionysus, the central events of which were the Greek drama, theatrical performances of dramatic tragedy, ...
, which took place once in winter and once in spring, was a competition between three tragic playwrights at the
Theatre of Dionysus The Theatre of Dionysus (or Theatre of Dionysos, el, Θέατρο του Διονύσου) is an Theatre of ancient Greece, ancient Greek theatre in Athens. It is built on the south slope of the Acropolis of Athens, Acropolis hill, originally p ...
. Each submitted three tragedies, plus a
satyr play The satyr play is a form of Attica, Attic theatre performance related to both comedy and tragedy. It preserves theatrical elements of dialogue, actors speaking verse, a chorus that dances and sings, masks and costumes. Its relationship to tragedy ...
(a comic,
burlesque A burlesque is a literary, dramatic or musical work intended to cause laughter by caricaturing the manner or spirit of serious works, or by ludicrous treatment of their subjects.
version of a mythological subject). Beginning in a first competition in 486 BC each playwright submitted a comedy.
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
claimed that
Aeschylus Aeschylus (, ; grc-gre, wikt:Αἰσχύλος, Αἰσχύλος ; c. 525/524 – c. 456/455 BC) was an ancient Greece, ancient Greek Greek tragedy, tragedian, and is often described as the father of tragedy. Academic knowledge of the genre be ...
added the second actor ( deuteragonist), and that
Sophocles Sophocles (; grc, wikt:Σοφοκλῆς, Σοφοκλῆς, , Sophoklễs; 497/6 – winter 406/5 BC)Sommerstein (2002), p. 41. is one of three classical Greece, ancient Greek tragedy, tragedians, at least one of whose plays has survived in fu ...
introduced the third ( tritagonist). Apparently the Greek playwrights never used more than three actors based on what is known about Greek theatre.
Tragedy Tragedy (from the grc-gre, wiktionary:τραγῳδία, τραγῳδία, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a genre of drama based on human suffering and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowful events that befall a tragic hero, main character. ...
and
comedy Comedy is a genre of fiction that consists of discourses or works intended to be humorous or amusing by inducing laughter, especially in theatre, film, stand-up comedy, television, radio, books, Entertainment, or any other entertainment medium. T ...
were viewed as completely separate genres, and no plays ever merged aspects of the two. Satyr plays dealt with the mythological subject matter of the tragedies, but in a purely comedic manner.


Hellenistic period

The power of Athens declined following its defeat in the
Peloponnesian War The Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC) was an ancient Greece, ancient Greek war fought between Classical Athens, Athens and Sparta and their respective allies for the hegemony of the Ancient Greece, Greek world. The war remained undecided for ...
against
Sparta Sparta (Doric Greek: Σπάρτα, ''Spártā''; Attic Greek: wikt:Σπάρτη, Σπάρτη, ''Spártē'') was a prominent city-state in Laconia, in ancient Greece. In antiquity, the city-state was known as Lacedaemon (, ), while the nam ...
. From that time on, the theatre started performing old tragedies again. Although its theatrical traditions seem to have lost their vitality, Greek theatre continued into the
Hellenistic period In Classical antiquity, the Hellenistic period covers the time in History of the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean history after Classical Greece, between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as sig ...
(the period following
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc, wikt:Ἀλέξανδρος, Ἀλέξανδρος, Alexandros; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the Ancient Greece, ancient Greek kingdom of Maced ...
's conquests in the fourth century BC). The primary Hellenistic theatrical form was not tragedy but
New Comedy Ancient Greek comedy was one of the final three principal dramatic forms in the Theatre of ancient Greece, theatre of classical Greece (the others being tragedy and the satyr play). Classical Athens, Athenian comedy is conventionally divided into ...
, comic episodes about the lives of ordinary citizens. The only extant playwright from the period is
Menander Menander (; grc-gre, Μένανδρος ''Menandros''; c. 342/41 – c. 290 BC) was a Greek dramatist and the best-known representative of Athenian Ancient Greek comedy, New Comedy. He wrote 108 comedies and took the prize at the Lenaia festiva ...
. One of New Comedy's most important contributions was its influence on Roman comedy, an influence that can be seen in the surviving works of
Plautus Titus Maccius Plautus (; c. 254 – 184 BC), commonly known as Plautus, was a Ancient Rome, Roman playwright of the Old Latin period. His comedy, comedies are the earliest Latin literature, Latin literary works to have survived in their entiret ...
and
Terence Publius Terentius Afer (; – ), better known in English as Terence (), was a Roman Africans, Roman African playwright during the Roman Republic. His comedies were performed for the first time around 166–160 BC. Terentius Lucanus, a Roman Rom ...
.


Architecture

Most ancient Greek cities lay on or near hills, so seating was generally built into the slope of a hill, producing a natural viewing area known as the (literally "seeing place"). In cities without suitable hills, banks of earth were piled up. At the foot of the hill was a flattened, generally circular performance space with an average diameter of , known as the (literally "dancing place"), where a chorus of typically 12 to 15 people performed plays in verse accompanied by music. There were often tall, arched entrances called or , through which actors and chorus members entered and exited the orchestra. In some theatres, behind the orchestra, was a backdrop or scenic wall known as the . The term eventually came to mean to the whole area of , , and .


Theatron

The was the seating area, built into a hill to create a natural viewing space. The first seats in Greek theatres (other than just sitting on the ground) were wooden, but around 499 BC the practice of inlaying stone blocks into the side of the hill to create permanent, stable seating became more common. They were called the and reserved for priests and a few most respected citizens. The separated the upper and lower seating areas.


After 465 BC, playwrights began using a backdrop or scenic wall, called the (from which the word '' scene'' derives), that hung or stood behind the orchestra, and which also served as an area where actors could change their costumes. After 425 BC a stone scene wall, called a , became a common supplement to . The was a long wall with projecting sides, which may have had doorways for entrances and exits. Just behind the was the ("in front of the scene"), which is similar to the modern day
proscenium A proscenium ( grc-gre, προσκήνιον, ) is the metaphorical vertical plane of space in a theatre, usually surrounded on the top and sides by a physical proscenium arch (whether or not truly "arched") and on the bottom by the stage floor ...
. The upper story was called the . Some theatres also had a raised speaking place on the orchestra called the . By the end of the 5th century BC, around the time of the Peloponnesian War, the was two stories high. The death of a character was always heard behind the , for it was considered inappropriate to show a killing in view of the audience. Conversely, there are scholarly arguments that death in Greek tragedy was portrayed off stage primarily because of dramatic considerations, and not prudishness or sensitivity of the audience. A temple nearby, especially on the right side of the scene, is almost always part of the Greek theatre complex. This could justify, as a transposition, the recurrence of the
pediment Pediments are gables, usually of a triangular shape. Pediments are placed above the horizontal structure of the lintel, or entablature, if supported by columns. Pediments can contain an overdoor and are usually topped by hood moulds. A pediment ...
with the later solidified stone scene.


Orchestra

The orchestra was a circular piece of ground at the bottom of the theatron where the chorus and actors performed. Originally unraised, Greek theatre would later incorporate a raised stage for easier viewing. This practice would become common after the advent of "New Comedy," which incorporated dramatic portrayal of individual character. The '' coryphaeus'' was the head chorus member, who could enter the story as a character able to interact with the characters of a play. Plays often began in the morning and lasted into the evening.


Acoustics

The theatres were built on a large scale to accommodate a large number of people on stage and in the audience—up to fourteen thousand. Physics and mathematics played a significant role in the construction of these theatres, as their designers had to be able to create
acoustics Acoustics is a branch of physics that deals with the study of mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including topics such as vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is an acoustician ...
in them such that the actors' voices could be heard throughout the theatre, including the very top row of seats. The Greek's understanding of acoustics compares very favorably with the current state of the art.


Scenic elements

There were several scenic elements commonly used in Greek theatre: * ''
mechane A mechane (; el, μηχανή, ''mēkhanḗ'') or machine was a crane (machine), crane used in History of theatre#Greek theatre, Greek theatre, especially in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Made of wooden beams and pulley systems, the device was us ...
'', a crane that gave the impression of a flying actor (thus, ''
deus ex machina ''Deus ex machina'' ( , ; plural: ''dei ex machina''; English "god out of the machine") is a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem in a story is suddenly and abruptly resolved by an unexpected and unlikely occurrence. Its function ...
'') * '' ekkyklêma'', a wheeled platform often used to bring dead characters into view for the audience * ''
pinakes The ''Pinakes'' ( grc, Πίνακες "tables", plural of ) is a lost bibliography, bibliographic work composed by Callimachus (310/305–240 BCE) that is popularly considered to be the first library catalog in the West; its contents were based ...
'', pictures hung to create scenery * ''thyromata'', more complex pictures built into the second-level scene (3rd level from the ground)


Masks


Masks

The Ancient Greek term for a
mask A mask is an object normally worn on the face, typically for protection, disguise, performance, or entertainment and often they have been employed for rituals and rights. Masks have been used since antiquity for both ceremony, ceremonial an ...
is ''prosopon'' (lit., "face"), and was a significant element in the worship of
Dionysus In ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, myth, Dionysus (; grc, wikt:Διόνυσος, Διόνυσος ) is the god of the grape-harvest, winemaking, orchards and fruit, vegetation, fertility, insanity, ritual madness, religious ecstas ...
at
Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is a coastal city in the Mediterranean and is both the capital and largest city of Greece. With a population close to four million, it is also the seventh largest c ...
likely used in ceremonial rites and celebrations. Many masks worshipped the higher power, the gods, making masks also very important for religion. Most of the evidence comes from only a few vase paintings of the 5th century BC, such as one showing a mask of the god suspended from a tree with decorated robe hanging below it and dancing and the ''Pronomos'' vase, which depicts actors preparing for a
satyr play The satyr play is a form of Attica, Attic theatre performance related to both comedy and tragedy. It preserves theatrical elements of dialogue, actors speaking verse, a chorus that dances and sings, masks and costumes. Its relationship to tragedy ...
. No physical evidence remains available to us, as the masks were made of organic materials and not considered permanent objects, ultimately being dedicated at the altar of Dionysus after performances. Nevertheless, the mask is known to have been used since the time of
Aeschylus Aeschylus (, ; grc-gre, wikt:Αἰσχύλος, Αἰσχύλος ; c. 525/524 – c. 456/455 BC) was an ancient Greece, ancient Greek Greek tragedy, tragedian, and is often described as the father of tragedy. Academic knowledge of the genre be ...
and considered to be one of the iconic conventions of classical Greek theatre. Masks were also made for members of the chorus, who play some part in the action and provide a commentary on the events in which they are caught up. Although there are twelve or fifteen members of the tragic chorus they all wear the same mask because they are considered to be representing one character.


Mask details

Illustrations of theatrical masks from 5th century display helmet-like masks, covering the entire face and head, with holes for the eyes and a small aperture for the mouth, as well as an integrated wig. These paintings never show actual masks on the actors in performance; they are most often shown being handled by the actors before or after a performance. This demonstrates the way in which the mask was to 'melt' into the face and allow the actor to vanish into the role. Effectively, the mask transformed the actor as much as memorization of the text. Therefore, performance in ancient Greece did not distinguish the masked actor from the theatrical character. The mask-makers were called ''skeuopoios'' or "maker of the props," thus suggesting that their role encompassed multiple duties and tasks. The masks were most likely made out of light weight, organic materials like stiffened linen, leather, wood, or cork, with the wig consisting of human or animal hair. Due to the visual restrictions imposed by these masks, it was imperative that the actors hear in order to orient and balance themselves. Thus, it is believed that the ears were covered by substantial amounts of hair and not the helmet-mask itself. The mouth opening was relatively small, preventing the mouth being seen during performances. Vervain and Wiles posit that this small size discourages the idea that the mask functioned as a megaphone, as originally presented in the 1960s. Greek mask-maker Thanos Vovolis suggests that the mask serves as a resonator for the head, thus enhancing vocal acoustics and altering its quality. This leads to increased energy and presence, allowing for the more complete metamorphosis of the actor into his character.


Mask functions

In a large open-air theatre, like the
Theatre of Dionysus The Theatre of Dionysus (or Theatre of Dionysos, el, Θέατρο του Διονύσου) is an Theatre of ancient Greece, ancient Greek theatre in Athens. It is built on the south slope of the Acropolis of Athens, Acropolis hill, originally p ...
in
Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is a coastal city in the Mediterranean and is both the capital and largest city of Greece. With a population close to four million, it is also the seventh largest c ...
, the classical masks were able to create a sense of dread in the audience creating large scale panic, especially since they had intensely exaggerated facial features and expressions. They enabled an actor to appear and reappear in several different roles, thus preventing the audience from identifying the actor to one specific character. Their variations help the audience to distinguish sex, age, and social status, in addition to revealing a change in a particular character's appearance, e.g.,
Oedipus Oedipus (, ; grc-gre, wikt:Οἰδίπους, Οἰδίπους "swollen foot") was a mythical Greek king of Ancient Thebes (Boeotia), Thebes. A tragic hero in Greek mythology, Oedipus accidentally fulfilled a prophecy that he would end up kill ...
after blinding himself. Unique masks were also created for specific characters and events in a play, such as the
Furies The Erinyes ( ; sing. Erinys ; grc, Ἐρινύες, pl. of ), also known as the Furies, and the Eumenides, were female chthonic The word chthonic (), or chthonian, is derived from the Ancient Greek word ''χθών, "khthon"'', meani ...
in
Aeschylus Aeschylus (, ; grc-gre, wikt:Αἰσχύλος, Αἰσχύλος ; c. 525/524 – c. 456/455 BC) was an ancient Greece, ancient Greek Greek tragedy, tragedian, and is often described as the father of tragedy. Academic knowledge of the genre be ...
' '' Eumenides'' and Pentheus and
Cadmus In Greek mythology, Cadmus (; grc-gre, Κάδμος, Kádmos) was the legendary Phoenician founder of Boeotian Thebes, Greece, Thebes. He was the first Greek hero and, alongside Perseus and Bellerophon, the greatest hero and slayer of monsters ...
in
Euripides Euripides (; grc, Εὐριπίδης, Eurīpídēs, ; ) was a tragedy, tragedian of classical Athens. Along with Aeschylus and Sophocles, he is one of the three ancient Greek tragedians for whom any plays have survived in full. Some ancient sc ...
' ''
The Bacchae ''The Bacchae'' (; grc-gre, Βάκχαι, ''Bakchai''; also known as ''The Bacchantes'' ) is an Classical Greece, ancient Greek tragedy, written by the Classical Athens, Athenian playwright Euripides during his final years in Macedonia (ancie ...
''. Worn by the chorus, the masks created a sense of unity and uniformity, while representing a multi-voiced persona or single organism and simultaneously encouraged interdependency and a heightened sensitivity between each individual of the group. Only 2–3 actors were allowed on the stage at one time, and masks permitted quick transitions from one character to another. There were only male actors, but masks allowed them to play female characters. The modern method to interpret a role by switching between a few simple characters goes back to changing masks in the theatre of ancient Greece.


Other costume details

The actors in these plays that had tragic roles wore boots called ''cothurnus'' ( buskin), that elevated them above the other actors. The actors with comedic roles only wore a thin-soled shoe called a '' soccus'' or sock. For this reason, dramatic art is sometimes called " sock and buskin." Male actors playing female roles would wear a wooden structure on their chests (''posterneda'') to imitate the look of breasts and another structure on their stomachs (''progastreda'') to make them appear softer and more lady like. They would also wear white body stockings under their costumes to make their skin appear fairer. Most costuming detail comes from pottery paintings from that time as costumes and masks were fabricated out of disposable material, so there are little to no remains of any costume from that time. The biggest source of information is the Pronomos Vase where actors are painted at a show's after party. Costuming would give off a sense of character, as in gender, age, social status, and class. For example, characters of higher class would be dressed in nicer clothing, although everyone was dressed fairly nicely. Contrary to popular belief, they did not dress in only rags and sandals, as they wanted to impress. Some examples of Greek theatre costuming include long robes called
chiton Chitons () are marine molluscs of varying size in the class Polyplacophora (), formerly known as Amphineura. About 940 extant and 430 fossil species are recognized. They are also sometimes known as gumboots or sea cradles or coat-of-mail ...
that reached the floor for actors playing gods, heroes, and old men. Actors playing goddesses and women characters that held a lot of power wore purple and gold. Actors playing queens and princesses wore long cloaks that dragged on the ground and were decorated with gold stars and other jewels, and warriors were dressed in a variety of armor and wore helmets adorned with plumes. Costumes were supposed to be colourful and obvious to be easily seen by every seat in the audience.


See also

* List of ancient Greek playwrights * List of ancient Greek theatres *
History of theatre The history of theatre charts the development of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event bef ...
* Representation of women in Athenian tragedy * '' Agôn'' *
Antistrophe Antistrophe ( grc, ἀντιστροφή, "a turning back") is the portion of an ode sung by the chorus in its returning movement from west to east, in response to the strophe A strophe () is a poetic term originally referring to the first par ...
*
Archon ''Archon'' ( gr, ἄρχων, árchōn, plural: ἄρχοντες, ''árchontes'') is a Greek word that means "ruler", frequently used as the title of a specific public office. It is the masculine present participle of the verb stem αρχ-, mean ...
*
Aulos An ''aulos'' ( grc, αὐλός, plural , ''auloi'') or ''tibia'' (Latin) was an Music of ancient Greece, ancient Greek wind instrument, depicted often in Ancient Greek art, art and also attested by classical archaeology, archaeology. Though ''a ...
* Chorêgos * Chorus of the elderly in classical Greek drama * Didascaliae * Didaskalos * '' Eisodos'' * '' Ekkyklêma'' *
Episode An episode is a narrative unit within a larger drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama ...
*
Epode An epodeFrom el, ἐπῳδός, ''epodos'', "singing to/over, an enchanter." is the third part of an ode that follows the strophe A strophe () is a poetic term originally referring to the first part of the ode in Ancient Greek tragedy, follow ...
* '' Kommós'' * '' Mêchanê'' *
Monody In music, monody refers to a solo vocal style distinguished by having a single melody, melodic line and instrumental accompaniment. Although such music is found in various cultures throughout history, the term is specifically applied to Italy, I ...
* Ode * Onomastì komodèin * ''
Parabasis In Greek comedy, the parabasis (plural parabases; grc, παράβασις, plural: ) is a point in the play when all of the actors leave the stage and the Greek Chorus, chorus is left to address the audience directly. The chorus partially or compl ...
'' * Phlyax play * ''
Sparagmos ''Sparagmos'' ( grc, σπαραγμός, from σπαράσσω ''sparasso'', "tear, rend, pull to pieces") is an act of rending, tearing apart, or mangling, usually in a Dionysian context. In Dionysian rite as represented in myth and literature, ...
'' * ''Stasimon, Stásimon'' * Stichomythia * Strophe, Strophê * Thalia (Muse) * Theatre of ancient Rome * Theorica, Theoric fund * Roman theatre (structure) * List of films based on Greek drama


References


Bibliography

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Further reading

*Bosher, Kathryn G. 2021. ''Greek Theater in Ancient Sicily''. Cambridge University Press. *Buckham, Philip Wentworth, iarchive:bub gb IjAZAAAAYAAJ, ''Theatre of the Greeks'', London 1827. *Davidson, J.A., ''Literature and Literacy in Ancient Greece, Part 1'', Phoenix (classics journal), Phoenix, 16, 1962, pp. 141–56. *Davidson, J.A., ''Peisistratus and Homer'', ''TAPA'', 86, 1955, pp. 1–21. * *Easterling, Patricia Elizabeth; Hall, Edith (eds.)
''Greek and Roman Actors: Aspects of an Ancient Profession''
Cambridge University Press, 2002. *Else, Gerald F. **''Aristotle's Poetics: The Argument'', Cambridge, Massachusetts 1967. **''The Origins and Early Forms of Greek Tragedy'', Cambridge, Massachusetts 1965. **''The Origins of ΤΡΑΓΩΙΔΙΑ'', Hermes 85, 1957, pp. 17–46. * Flickinger, Roy Caston
''The Greek theater and its drama''
Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1918 *Foley, Helene, ''Female Acts in Greek Tragedy'', Princeton: Princeton University Press 2001. *Freund, Philip, ''The Birth of Theatre'', London: Peter Owen, 2003. *Arthur Elam Haigh, Haigh, A. E., ''The Attic Theatre'', 1907. *Harsh, Philip Whaley, ''A handbook of Classical Drama'', Stanford University, California, Stanford University Press; London, H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1944. *Lesky, A. ''Greek Tragedy'', trans. H.A., Frankfurt, London and New York 1965. *Ley, Graham. ''A Short Introduction to the Ancient Greek Theatre.'' University of Chicago, Chicago: 2006 *Ley, Graham. ''Acting Greek Tragedy.'' University of Exeter Press, Exeter: 2015 *Loscalzo, Donato, ''Il pubblico a teatro nella Grecia antica'', Roma 2008 *McDonald, Marianne, Walton, J. Michael (editors), ''The Cambridge companion to Greek and Roman theatre'', Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. *McClure, Laura. ''Spoken Like a Woman: Speech and Gender in Athenian Drama'', Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999. *Richard Green Moulton, Moulton, Richard Green, ''The ancient classical drama; a study in literary evolution intended for readers in English and in the original'', Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1890. * Padilla, Mark William (editor)
"Rites of Passage in Ancient Greece: Literature, Religion, Society"
Bucknell University Press, 1999. *Pickard-Cambridge, Sir Arthur Wallace **''Dithyramb, Tragedy, and Comedy '', Oxford 1927. **''The Theatre of Dionysus in Athens'', Oxford 1946. **''The Dramatic Festivals of Athens'', Oxford 1953. * *Riu, Xavier, ''Dionysism and Comedy'', 1999
review
*Ross, Stewart. ''Greek Theatre.'' Wayland Press, Hove: 1996 * Rozik, Eli
''The roots of theatre: rethinking ritual and other theories of origin''
Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2002. *August Wilhelm von Schlegel, Schlegel, August Wilhelm, :gutenberg:7148, ''Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature'', Geneva 1809. *Sommerstein, Alan H.
''Greek Drama and Dramatists''
Routledge, 2002. *Sourvinou-Inwood, Christiane, ''Tragedy and Athenian Religion'', Oxford:University Press 2003. *Tsitsiridis, Stavros, "Greek Mime in the Roman Empire (P.Oxy. 413: ''Charition'' and ''Moicheutria''"
''Logeion'' 1 (2011) 184-232
*Wiles, David. ''Greek Theatre Performance: An Introduction.'' Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 2000 *Wiles, David. ''The Masks of Menander: Sign and Meaning in Greek and Roman Performance'', Cambridge, 1991. *Wiles, David. ''Mask and Performance in Greek Tragedy: from ancient festival to modern experimentation'', Cambridge, 1997. *Wise, Jennifer, ''Dionysus Writes: The Invention of Theatre in Ancient Greece'', Ithaca 1998

*Zimmerman, B., ''Greek Tragedy: An Introduction'', trans. T. Marier, Baltimore 1991.


External links


Ancient Greek Theatre
– Dr. Thomas G. Hines, Department of Theatre, Whitman College
Greek and Roman theatre glossaryIllustrated Greek Theater
– Dr. Janice Siegel, Department of Classics, Hampden–Sydney College, Virginia
Searchable database of monologues for actors from Ancient Greek TheatreLogeion: A Journal of Ancient Theatre with free access which publishes original scholarly articles including its reception in modern theatre, literature, cinema and the other art forms and media, as well as its relation to the theatre of other periods and geographical regions.
{{Authority control Ancient Greek theatre, Ancient Greek dramatists and playwrights, Cult of Dionysus Masks in theatre