Important Facts About the Greek Theater and Greek Drama
- Tragedy revolves around a tragic hero who suffers misfortune.
- In his Poetics, Aristotle wrote about the qualities of tragedy, which include a catharsis or cleansing: Aristotle's Tragedy Terminology.
- Greek tragedy was performed as part of an estimated 5-day Athenian religious festival, which may have been instituted by Peisistratus.
- The Great Dionysia, the name of this festival, was held in the Attic month of Elaphebolion, from the end of March to mid-April.
- Three tragic playwrights competed during the festival for the prize for the best series of three tragedies and a satyr play.
- The first competition is thought to have been held in 535 B.C. at which time Thespis won.
- There were rarely more than a chorus and 3 actors, regardless of how many roles were played. Actors changed their appearance in the skene.
- Greek Comedy is divided into Old and New.
- Since the only Greek comedy comes from Attica -- the country around Athens -- it is often called Attic Comedy.
- Old Comedy tended to examine political and allegorical topics while New Comedy looked at personal and domestic themes.
- Euripides (one of the 3 great writers of tragedy) is considered an important influence on the development of New Comedy.
- The primary writer of Old Comedy is Aristophanes; the primary figure for New Comedy is Menander.
- The Roman comedy writers followed Greek New Comedy.
- The relatively modern "Comedy of Manner" can be traced to Greek New Comedy.
General Information on the Greek Theatre
- Men played the role of women.
- Actors wore masks.
- Performances were outdoors often on hillsides.
- The word "theater" comes from the word theatron which was the viewing area for the Greek audience.