Ancient Greek Drama Essay

2839 words - 11 pages

For other uses of "Greek Theatre", see Greek theatre (disambiguation).Theatre mask, 1st century BCThe theatre of Ancient Greece, or ancient Greek drama, is a theatrical culture that flourished in ancient Greece 700 BC. The city-state of Athens, which became a significant cultural, political, and military power during this period, was its centre, where it was institutionalised as part of a festival called the Dionysia, which honoured the god Dionysus. Tragedy (late 5th century BC), comedy (486 BC), and the satyr play were the three dramatic genres to emerge there. Athens exported the festival to its numerous colonies and allies in order to promote a common cultural identity.Contents [hide]1 Etymology2 Origins3 New inventions during the Classical Period4 Hellenistic period5 Characteristics of the buildings5.1 Scenic elements6 Masks6.1 Masks and ritual6.2 Mask details6.3 Mask functions6.4 Other costume details7 See also8 References9 Additional literature10 External linksEtymology[edit]The word τραγῳδία (tragoidia), from which the word "tragedy" is derived, is a compound of two Greek words: τράγος (tragos) or "goat" and ᾠδή (ode ) meaning "song", from ἀείδειν (aeidein), "to sing".[1] 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.[2]Origins[edit]Main article: Greek tragedyMartin Litchfield West speculates that early studies in Greek religion and theatre, which are inter-related, especially the Orphic Mysteries, was heavily influenced by Central Asian shamanistic practices. A large number of Orphic graffiti unearthed in Olbia seem to testify that the colony was one major point of contact.[3]Panoramic view of the theatre at Epidaurus.Greek tragedy as we know it was created in Athens around the time of 532 BC, when Thespis was the earliest recorded actor. Being a winner of the first theatrical contest held at Athens, he was the exarchon, or leader,[4] of the dithyrambs 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, 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, for example, is credited with creating poems in which characters speak with their own voice, and spoken performances of Homer's epics by rhapsodes were popular in festivals prior to 534 BC.[5] Thus, Thespis's true contribution to drama is unclear at best, but his name has been immortalized as a common term for...

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