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IKARIA (Ancient demos) DIONYSSOS
The father of Greek Tragedy. He was a contemporary of Pisistratus, and a native of Icarus, one of the demes in Attica, where the worship of Dionysus had long prevailed. The alteration made by Thespis , which gave to the old Tragedy a new and dramatic character, was very simple but very important. Before his time the leader of the Chorus had recited the adventures of Dionysus and had been answered by the Chorus. Thespis introduced an actor (hupokrites, or "answerer") to reply to the leader of the Chorus. It is clear that, though the performance still remained, as far as can be gathered, chiefly lyrical, and the dialogue was of comparatively small account, yet a decided step towards the drama had been made. Some modern scholars have credited Horace's statement that Thespis went about in a wagon as a strolling player. It is suggested that the expressions for the freedom of jesting at the festival of the Lenaea (ta ex hamaxon, ex hamaxes hubrizein) may have given rise to the story.
This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
The “inventor of tragedy” was born in Attica,
and was the first prize winner at the Great Dionysia in 534 BC. He was an important
innovator for the theatre, since he intoduced such things as the independent actor,
as opposed to the choir, as well as masks, make up and costumes.
Thespis walked around Athens pulling a handcart, setting up a kind of one man plays, where he showed the bad behaviour of man. The word for actor “thespian” comes from his name.
His contemporary Solon resented him, with the explanation that what he showed on stage soon would be acted out in reality as well.
This text is cited Sept 2003 from the In2Greece URL below.
I. Tragedy in Greece originated in the lyric dithyramb; i. e. in the song of a chorus at the rites held in honour of Dionysus (see Dionysia). This song, in accordance with the cult of the god, expressed at one time exuberant joy, at another deep sorrow. The cult of Dionysus is also indicated by the very name of tragedy, signifying goat-song; i. e. (according to the usual explanation) the hymn sung by the chorus in their dance round the altar at the sacrifice of the goat (tragos), dedicated to Dionysus. Others derive the name from the fact that, to represent Satyrs, the chorus were clad in goat-skins, and hence resembled goats. These choral songs seem to have received a certain dramatic form as early as the time of Arion , to whom the dithyramb owes its artistic development. The true drama, including tragic and satyric plays, was evolved subsequently in Athens.
Tradition ascribes the origin of tragedy to a contemporary of Solon named Thespis, of Icaria, which was a chief seat of the cult of Dionysus. The date assigned to this is B.C. 540. Thespis was at the same time poet, leader of the chorus, and actor. According to the testimony of the ancients, his pieces consisted of a prologue, a series of choral songs standing in close connection with the action, and dramatic recitations introduced between the choruses. These recitations were delivered by the leader of the chorus, and were partly in the form of monologues, partly in that of short dialogues with the chorus, whereby the action of the play was advanced. The reciter was enabled to appear in different roles by the aid of linen or wooden masks, which are also said to have been introduced by the poet himself. (See Persona below.) The invention of Thespis , whose own pieces soon lapsed into oblivion, won the favour of Pisistratus and the approval of the Athenian public. Tragedy thus became an important element in the Attic festival of Dionysus. Thespis's immediate followers were Choerilus, Pratinas (the inventor of the Satyric Drama), his son Aristias , and Phrynichus. Phrynichus especially did good service towards the development of tragedy by introducing an actor apart from the leader of the chorus, and so preparing the way for true dialogue. He further improved the chorus, which still, however, occupied a disproportionate space in comparison with the action of the play.
Tragedy was really brought into being by Aeschylus, when he added a second actor (called the deuteragonistes) to the first, or protagonistes, and in this way rendered dialogue possible. He further subordinated the choruses to the dialogue.
Sophocles, in whom tragedy reaches its culminating-point, added to Aeschylus's two actors a third, or tritagonistes: and Aeschylus accepted the innovation in his later plays. Thenceforward three actors were regularly granted by lot to each poet, at the public expense. Only rarely, and in exceptional cases, was a fourth employed. Sophocles also raised the number of the chorus from twelve to fifteen. The only other important innovation due to him was that he gave up the internal connection, preserved by Aeschylus, among the several plays of a tetralogy which were presented in competition by the tragic poets at the festival of Dionysus. See; Tetralogia; Trilogia.
The third great master of tragedy is Euripides, in whom, however, we already observe a decline in many respects from the severe standard of his predecessor. During and after the age of these masters of the art, from whom alone have complete dramas come down to us, many other tragic poets were actively employed, whose works are known to us by name alone, or are only preserved in fragments.
It is remarkable that, in the case of the great tragic writers, the cultivation of tragic compositions seems to have been hereditary among their descendants, and among those of Aeschylus in particular, for many generations. His son Euphorion, his nephew Philocles, his grand-nephews Morsimus and Melanthius, his grandson Astydamas, and his great-grandsons Astydamas and Philocles, were poets of more or less note. In the family of Sophocles may be mentioned his son Iophon and his grandson Sophocles; and in that of Euripides, his son or nephew of the same name.
Among the other poets of the fifth century B.C., Ion, Achaeus, Aristarchus, and Neophron were accounted the most eminent. Agathon may also be included as the first who ventured to treat a subject of his own invention, whereas hitherto mythical history, especially that of Homer and the Cyclic Poets, or, in rare instances, authentic history, had furnished the materials of the play. After the Peloponnesian War, tragedy shared the general and ever-increasing decline of political and religious vitality. In the fourth century, besides the descendants of Aeschylus, we must mention Theodectes, Aphareus, and Chaeremon, who partly wrote for readers only.
The number of tragedies produced at Athens is marvellous. According to the not altogether trustworthy records of the number of plays written by each poet, they amounted to 1400. The works of the foremost poets were represented over and over again, especially in the theatres of Asia Minor, under the successors of Alexander. During the first half of the third century Ptolemy Philadelphus built a great theatre in Alexandria, where he established competitions in exact imitation of those at Athens. This gave a new impetus to tragic poetry, and seven poets became conspicuous, who were known as the Alexandrian Pleiad, Alexander Aetolus, Philiscus, Sositheus, Homerus, Aeantides, Sosiphanes, and Lycophron. The taste of the Alexandrian critics deemed them worthy to occupy a place beside the five great tragic poets of Athens, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Ion, and Achaeus. See Canon Alexandrinus;
Inasmuch as tragedy developed itself out of the chorus at the Dionysiac festivals, so, in spite of all the limitations which were introduced as a result of the evolution of the true drama, the chorus itself was always retained. Hence Greek tragedy consisted of two elements: the one truly dramatic, the prevailing metre of which was the iambic trimeter; the other consisting of song and dance (see Chorus) in the numerous varieties of Dorian lyric poetry. The dramatic portion was generally made up of the following parts: the prologos, from the beginning to the first entry of the chorus; the epeisodion, the division between each choral song and the next; and the exodos, or concluding portion which followed the last chorus. The first important choral part was called the parodos: and the song following an episodium, a stasimon. There were further songs of lamentation by the chorus and actors together, which were called kommoi. A solo was sometimes sung by the actor alone; and this became especially common in the later tragedies.
II. Roman tragedy was founded entirely on that of the Greeks. In early times there existed crude dramatic productions (see Satira), which provided an opening for the translation from the Greek dramas brought on the stage by Livius Andronicus. He was a Greek by birth, but was brought to Rome as a captive about B.C. 200. It is to him that Roman tragedy owes its origin. His dramas and those of his successors were more or less free versions of Greek originals. Even the tragedies, or historical plays, drawn from national Roman materials, called fabulae praetextae or praetextatae (see Praetexta), the first writer of which was his immediate successor Naevius (about B.C. 235), were entirely modelled on the Greek. The most noteworthy representatives of tragedy under the Republic were Ennius (B.C. 239-170), Pacuvius (220- 130), and Attius (170-84), besides whom only a few other poets produced any works about this time. It is true that the scanty fragments we possess of these dramas admit of no positive judgment as to their merit, but there is no doubt that they rank far below the original creations of the Greeks. It may also be clearly inferred from the fragments that declamation and pathos formed a characteristic attribute of Roman tragedy, which was intensified by a studied archaism of expression. Moreover, the titles of their plays that have come down to us show that preference was given to subjects relating to the Trojan epic cycle; this is to be explained by the Trojan origin claimed by the Romans. (See Trojan War.) Next to this the most popular were the myths of the Pelopidae, of the Theban cycle, and of the Argonauts. Euripides was the favourite model; after him Sophocles; rarely Aeschylus. Roman tragedy, like Greek, was made up of spoken dialogue in iambic trimeters and musical portions called cantica. See Canticum, and on the chorus in Roman tragedy see Chorus (near the end).
In the time of Augustus the representatives of tragedy were Asinius Pollio, Varius, and Ovid; under Tiberius, Pomponius Secundus; under Nero and Vespasian, Curiatius Maternus, of whose works scarcely a line has been preserved. The only tragedies of Roman antiquity which we possess are those of the philosopher Seneca, which show great mastery of form and a fertile imagination, but suffer from an intolerable excess of rhetorical declamation. It is doubtful whether they were intended for the stage at all, and not rather for public recitation and for private reading.
This extract is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Tragoedia. The purpose of this article is to sketch the progress of Greek Tragedy
from its origin to its maturity; and to give some account of Roman Tragedy, which
was derived from the Greek.
The Dorian worship of the gods, and especially of Apollo, had been accompanied from an early time by choral lyrics, to which an artistic development was given by Alcman of Sparta (660 B.C.) and Stesichorus of Himera (620 B.C.). It was reserved for a man of Aeolian origin to perfect one particular species of the poetry which Dorians had made their own. Arion, of Methymna in Lesbos, lived about 600 B.C. He gave a finished form to the dithurambos, or choral hymn in honour of Dionysus. The kuklios choros--i. e. the chorus which stood, or danced, round the altar of Dionysus--received from him a more complete organisation, its number being fixed at fifty. The earliest kuklioi choroi of this kind were trained and produced by Arion at Corinth in the reign of Periander. Pindar alludes to this when he speaks of Corinth as the place where the graces of Dionysus --the joyous song and dance of his festival--were first shown forth, sun boelatai . . . dithuramboi (Olymp. xiii. 19). The epithet boelates which is there given to the dithyramb probably refers to the fact that an ox was the prize, rather than to a symbolical identification of Dionysus with that animal. In one of his lost poems Pindar had connected the origin of the dithyramb with Naxos, and, in another, with Thebes. This is quite consistent with Corinth having been the first home of the matured dithyramb. It is well known that the dithyramb had existed before Arion's time. The earliest occurrence of the word is in Archilochus (circ. 670 B.C.), fr. 79: hos Dionusoi' anaktos kalon exarxai melos | oida dithurambon, oinoi sunkeraunotheis phrenas--a testimony to the impassioned character of the song. Herodotus speaks of Arion as not merely the developer, but the inventor (i. 23); and Aristotle made a similar statement, if we can trust the citation in Photius (ton de arxamenon tes oides Aristoteles Ariona phesin einai, hos protos ton kuklion egage choron: Biblioth. Cod. 239). But it was natural that the man who developed and popularised the dithyramb should have come to figure in tradition as its inventor. The etymology of dithurambos is unknown. Plato conjectures that its original theme was the birth of Dionysus (Legg. p. 700 B). If this was so, at any rate the scope must soon have been enlarged, so as to include all the fortunes of the god.
Earliest Tragic Choruses.
At Sicyon, circ. 600 B.C., tragikoi choroi were in use. This date coincides with the period at which Arion perfected the dithyramb; and we find that these choroi had originally been held in honour of Dionysus. The Sicyonians had diverted them from that purpose, and had applied them to the cult of the Argive hero Adrastus, whose adventures were celebrated by the choruses (Her. v. 67, ta pathea autou tragikoisi choroisi egerairon). Cleisthenes, the tyrant of Sicyon, reclaimed these choroi for Dionysus. Two points in this account deserve attention.
(1.) The epithet tragikoi is already given to these choruses, although there was as yet no actor distinct from the chorus. The saturoi (=tituroi, he-goats ) were woodland beings, half man, half beast, who attended on Dionysus, and who were conventionally represented with pointed ears, budding horns, a snub nose, and a tail. Some allusion to the satyrs was evidently involved in tragikos, as an epithet of the chorus, and in tragoidia, as a name for their song. But it is hardly doubtful that these terms also refer directly to the association of an actual goat with the Dionysiac worship. It was the goat that suggested the conventional type of the saturoi, not the latter that prompted the use of the terms tragikos and tragoidia. The choice of the votive animal is sufficiently explained by the lower side of the nature ascribed to the god, the side which would be most prominent in a rustic carnival. A goat was perhaps sacrificed to Dionysus before the choral song began. But this does not necessarily exclude another hypothesis--viz. that a goat was sometimes the prize. When, in early times, the country people spoke of a goat-chorus, or a goat-song, no doubt the literal and the allusive meanings were blended; men thought partly of the goat which was the sacrifice or the prize, partly of the goat-like satyrs who formed the Chorus. The word tragoidia is often applied to the purely choral performance in honour of Dionysus, when as yet there was no tragedy in the later sense. Thus Plato remarks that tragoidia had existed in Attica before the days of Thespis and Phrynichus (Minos, p. 321 A). Similarly Athenaeus (630 c) and Diogenes Laertius (iii. 56) speak of the primitive tragoidia which was performed wholly by a chorus.
(2.) Further, it appears that as early as 600 B.C. tragikoi choroi were not necessarily restricted to the worship of Dionysus, but could celebrate the fortunes of a hero such as Adrastus. This illustrates the peculiar position of Dionysus among the Hellenic deities. According to legend, his entrance into Greece had been opposed; he had endured various insults and trials before his worship was finally established. Dionysus alone was at once a god--superhuman in might--and a hero who had striven like Heracles. The tragic chorus, which sang the dithyramb, commemorated his pathe--the varying fortunes which had preceded his final triumph. Such a chorus might change its theme to a hero who had experienced like vicissitudes, but not to any other god. Apollo had long been honoured with choruses by the Dorians. But there was no germ of drama in the choral cult of Apollo, because there was no reminiscence of suffering.
Transition from Lyric to Dramatic Tragedy.
As the central idea of the Dionysiac worship was a vivid sympathy with the fortunes of the god, a certain dramatic element must have entered into it from the first. The energy of the dithyrambic style would itself prompt the dancers to use animated gesture. It would also be natural that their leader should enact the part of Dionysus himself, or of a messenger from him--reciting some adventure, to which the satyr-chorus would then make a lyric response. Greek tradition clearly associated some such rudiments of drama with the primitive tragoidia. [p. 859] Thus Diogenes Laertius says: In early tragedy the Chorus alone sustained the action (diedramatizen); afterwards Thespis introduced one actor, in order to give rest to the Chorus (iii. 56). Aristotle, too, states that tragedy was at first extemporary (autoschediastike), and took its rise from those who led off the dithyramb (apo ton exarchonton ton dithurambon: Poet. 4). He refers to an effusion, more or less unpremeditated, by the leader, as distinguished from the hymn chanted by the Chorus.
Thespis, a native of Icaria in Attica, flourished about 536 B.C., in the later years of Peisistratus. He was a trainer and leader of dithyrambic choruses, who made an improvement in the mode of performance. Hitherto the leader, who recited an adventure of Dionysus, had addressed the Chorus, and had been answered by them. Thespis now set apart a person specially for dialogue with the leader. As this person had to reply to the leader, he was called the answerer, hupokrites--which became the regular term for an actor. This was another step towards drama; but how far it went we do not know, because we do not know what the dramata of Thespis (as Suidas calls them) were like. The alleged fragments of Thespis in Plutarch, Clement of Alexandria, Pollux, and other writers, are spurious, as Bentley has shown (Phalaris, pp. 289 ff., ed. Dyce). Everything would depend on the manner in which the part of the new hupokrites was adjusted to that of the coryphaeus. If the latter was made virtually a second actor, then Thespis might fairly be regarded as the founder of drama proper. If, on the other hand, the dialogue remained comparatively unimportant, and the whole performance continued to be essentially lyric, then Thespis had merely modified the tradition--though in a fruitful way. The latter view seems the more probable. The ancients themselves were divided: some regarded him as the protos tragikos: others, as merely improving on Sicyonian tradition (Suidas). Bentley maintained that Thespis composed only pieces of a humorous character; Welcker, that he produced serious tragedy also. Neither view admits of proof. Horace (Ars Poet. 276) has given currency to the notion that Thespis went about the country with a strolling company, and acted his plays on a waggon. The fiction may have been suggested by the jests from a waggon which were associated with the processions to Eleusis (ex hamaxes hubrizein). When all the evidence has been sifted, Thespis remains to us a famous name, and little more. That he made an epoch in the gradual development is beyond question. But, in the light of such imperfect knowledge as we possess, Aeschylus, not Thespis, must be regarded as the true founder of Tragedy.
The Period between Thespis and Aeschylus.
(1) Choerilus, an Athenian, is said to have gained his first dramatic victory in 523 B.C., and to have been active for some sixty years afterwards. Pausanias (i. 14, § 2) refers to him as drama poiesanti Alopen. Alope was a hapless maiden whom her father Cercyon put to death; and Pausanias quotes the play for some genealogical details about Triptolemus. Here, then, we have a tragedy, connected, by subject, with Eleusis, but not directly with Dionysus. Choerilus is said by Suidas to have composed 160 plays. Only a few words are extant. The view that he excelled in satyr-drama rests on a verse of an unknown poet, henika men basileus en Choirilos en saturois, quoted by Marius Plotius Sacerdos (circ. 300 A.D.), in the third book of his Ars Grammatica, where he treats of metres. The phrase en saturois, however, may have referred to Dionysiac choruses generally, and not to satyr-plays as distinguished from tragedies.
(2) Pratinas, a native of Phlius, is said by Suidas to have contended against Choerilus and Aeschylus in the 70th Olympiad, i. e. at some time between 500 and 497 B.C. If the first year of the Olympiad is meant, the date would be the spring of 499 B.C. The tradition that he was the first to write satyr-plays is founded on the words of Suidas, protos egraphe saturous: but it can be traced further back, if Pratinae be read for Cratini in a note on the Ars Poetica (230) by Helenius Acron, the commentator on Terence and Horace (circ. 190 A.D.). The satyr-plays of Pratinas were presumably intended to preserve the old type of satyr-chorus, now threatened with extinction by the new improvements. Such an effort would have been natural for one whose native place was not far from Sicyon. Among the scanty fragments of Pratinas, which are almost wholly lyric, the most considerable is a passage of 20 lines from a huporchema (Bergk, Poet. Lyr. 953 ff.: cf. Nauck, Frag. Trag. p. 562). Suidas says that he wrote 60 plays, of which 32 were, satyric dramas; unless, with Boeckh, 32 should be altered to 12 (lb' to ib').
(3) Phrynichus, an Athenian, is said to have gained the tragic prize first in 511 B.C., and for the last time in 476 B.C. His tragedy on the Capture of Miletus must have been produced soon after the date of the event (494 B.C.): it is uncertain whether the title was Miletou halosis (Her. vi. 21), or Persai. Eight other of his plays are known by titles, but only a few verses remain (Nauck, Frag. Trag. 557 ff.). According to Bentley's conjecture, the Phoenissae (on the same subject as the Persae of Aeschylus) was the play produced in 476 B.C., when Themistocles was his choregus. In the Thesmophoriazusae of Aristophanes the tragic poet Agathon says of Phrynichus that the comeliness of his person was matched by the beauty of his dramas (v. 166). His lyrics, in particular, were admired for their simple grace and sweetness. It seemed as if the birds had taught him to warble (Ar. Av. 748 ff.) These lyrics had probably more of an Ionian than of a Dorian or an Aeolian stamp. He was. the most popular tragic poet of his time: the audiences to whom Aeschylus made his earlier appeals are described as having been brought up in the school of Phrynichus (para phrunichoi traphentas, Ar. Ran. 910).
Aeschylus, a native of Eleusis in Attica, was born in 525 B.C. About 499 B.C. he was already exhibiting tragedy, but it was in 484 that he first gained the prize. The great change which he introduced consisted in adding a second actor, and in making the dialogue more important than the Chorus (ton lolon protagonisten pareskeuase, Arist. Post. 4). It may be conjectured that this change had been made some years before 484 B.C.; at any rate it was earlier [p. 860] than the date of the Persae, 472 B.C. So long as there was only a single actor, that actor might, indeed, assume different parts in succession, but there could be no drama in the proper sense of the word. If, for instance, Phrynichus used only one actor in the Capture of Miletus, that person might first appear as a messenger, relating the calamity; the Chorus would express their grief; the actor might then reappear as one of the victors or of the vanquished, and give occasion for another choral strain. But the presentment of an action as passing before the eyes of the spectators became possible only when a second actor was added. Aeschylus also gave a new grandeur to the scenic accessories of tragedy. He improved the masks, and introduced new costumes, of which we shall speak presently. The introduction of scene-painting has also been ascribed to him; but it is probable that his use of this aid did not go beyond an elementary form. Aeschylus is essentially the creator of the tragic drama as it existed at Athens during the 5th century B.C. In comparison with Phrynichus and his other predecessors, Aeschylus stood out as the first of the Greeks who had built up a lofty diction for Tragedy, and who had made it a splendid spectacle. (Ar. Ran. 1004 f.)
Sophocles was born in or about 495 B.C., and first gained the tragic prize in 468 B.C., against Aeschylus. He added a third actor. He also raised the number of the tragic chorus from 12 to 15. Hitherto one of the ordinary choreutae had acted as leader. One of the three additional men was now appointed coryphaeus; the other two were destined to serve as leaders of hemichoria when the Chorus was required to act in two divisions (as it does in a passage of the Ajax, 866 ff.). Aristotle mentions scene-painting (skenographia) as an improvement distinctive of Sophocles. It cannot be doubted that, though Aeschylus may have used some kind of scenepainting at an earlier date, Sophocles was the dramatist who first made a more thorough and effective use of it, so that it continued to be associated with his name. (see Theatrum) The external form of Attic tragedy was now complete.
Occasions on which Tragedy was acted at Athens
We may next consider the conditions under which tragedy was presented to the Athenian public. Before the time of Peisistratus, the rural Dionysia (ta kat' agrous) afforded the only occasion for the Bacchic choruses in Attica. It is conjectured that Peisistratus was the founder of the Dionysiac festival called the Lenaea. This was held every January in the Lenaion (so named from lenos, a wine-press), the precinct sacred to Dionysus, on the S.E. slope of the Acropolis. The Lenaea witnessed the exhibitions of Thespis, Choerilus and Pratinas, as well as the earlier plays of Phrynichus and of Aeschylus. A regular contest (agon) for the tragic prize at the Lenaea seems to have existed as early as the days of Thespis and Choerilus. The institution of the Great, or City, Dionysia (ta kat' astu) may probably be referred to the time immediately after the Persian wars, circ. 478 B.C. The Great Dionysia then became the chief occasion for Tragedy; and in the middle part of the 5th century the Lenaea seems to have been exclusively the festival of Comedy. About 416 B.C., however, we again hear of Tragedy at the Lenaea. Thenceforth, down at least to the days of Demosthenes, tragic drama accompanied both festivals; though it was more especially associated with the Great Dionysia. At the Anthesteria, the February festival, no drama was exhibited.
Trilogy and Tetralogy
The form in which Aeschylus produced his tragedies, -during, at least, the later part of his career,- was that of the trilogy, or group of three. To these was appended a satyr-drama (saturoi, or saturikon drama), so called because the Chrous consisted of satyrs attendant on Dionysus. We have seen that Pratinas was the reputed inventor of the satyr-play, and that its object was to preserve the memory of the tragic chorus in its earliest phase. A mingling of seriousness and mirth was characteristic of the Dionysiac worship. Tragedy represented one side of this mood, and Comedy the other. The satyr-drama--true to its origin from the old tragikos choros--was nearer to Tragedy than to Comedy, but contained elements of the latter also; hence it was aptly described as paizousa tragoidia (Demetrius, de Elocut. § 169). The trilogy, or group of three tragedies, and the satyr-drama, together made up the tetralogy. It is not known that Aeschylus himself, or any of the Attic dramatists, used the word trilogia or tetralogia. These terms cannot be traced back beyond the Alexandrian age. But, whether the Attic dramatists did or did not use these words, it is certain that they composed in these forms. The origin of the trilogy has been conjecturally derived from a custom, in the days when there was only one actor, that he should give three successive recitations between the choral songs: but this is doubtful. Nor is it certain, though it is very probable, that Aeschylus was the inventor of the trilogy. His Oresteia is the only extant example. In that trilogy, the three plays form successive chapters of one story. A trilogy which has this kind of unity has been called a fable-trilogy. On the other hand the term theme-trilogy has been used to describe three tragedies linked, not by story, but by some abstract idea, such as that of Hellenic victory over the barbarian. Thus, according to Welcker, the Persae belonged to a theme-trilogy in which the first play (Phineus) related to the Argonauts, and the third (Glaucus) to the victory of the Sicilian Greeks at Himera (480 B.C.). The fable-trilogy was the type characteristic of Aeschylus. It has been attempted to show, from the recorded titles of his plays, that his trilogies always had the unity either of fable or of theme. But it is more probable that, though he preferred fabletrilogies, he sometimes also produced trilogies in which the plays were wholly unconnected. With regard to the practice of the poets after Aeschylus, these points may be observed. (1) In addition to the Aeschylean examples, ten tetralogies can be traced, ranging in date from 467 to 405 B.C. Five of these belong to Euripides; the other five, to minor tragic poets. (2) Suidas says that Sophocles began the practice of play contending against play, and not tetralogy against tetralogy. But it is known that Sophocles competed with Euripides on at least two occasions when the latter produced [p. 861] tetralogies, viz. in 438 and in 431 B.C. It cannot be doubted that in each of these cases Sophocles, too, produced four plays. To have competed with a single play against a tetralogy would have argued sterility or arrogance. Sophocles continued to use the tetralogical form, but the tragedies in his trilogy were usually unconnected, as those of Aeschylus had usually been linked. The statement of Suidas is probably founded on a statement of some older writer who was noticing a result of the Sophoclean practice: viz., that the judges of the tragic prize, having to decide between trilogies of unconnected plays, found it easier to pronounce which one play was the best of all, than to determine which trilogy was best as a whole. Thus, though tetralogies were still produced, the contest for the prize would often be one of play against play. (3) There is no proof that Sophocles, or any poet of his time, ever competed at the Dionysia with one tragedy only. The year 340 B.C. is the earliest in which it is proved that the tragic poets exhibited less than three plays each; and in that year they produced two each. This is proved by a contemporary inscription. (4) The conclusion is that tetralogy continued to be the rule in Tragedy down at least to 400 B.C., and perhaps somewhat longer. It was only by a tetralogy that the old Dionysiac chorus of fifty persons was fully represented. The Aeschylean chorus of 12, and the Sophoclean of 15, roughly symbolised a quarter of that number. Anything less than a tetralogy would have seemed an incomplete tribute to the god. No argument can be drawn from the case of Comedy. Comedies were always produced singly.
In the time of Thespis, poet and actor were identical. In the earlier years of Aeschylus and Sophocles it was still not unusual for a poet to bear a part in the performance of his own tragedies. Thus Sophocles is recorded to have played the title-role in his own Thamyris, and Nausicaa in his Plyntriae. But, when the tragic drama had once been matured, the art of the tragic actor became a distinct profession. According to the degree of the actor's skill--which was tested by special trials--he was classed as a player of first, second, or third parts. We must remember that, until Aeschylus introduced the second actor, the principal performer was not the single actor, but the coryphaeus, since the choral element was more important than the dialogue. It was Aeschylus who, in Aristotle's phrase, first made the dialogue protagonist. The protagonist played the most important character of the piece, which was often, but not necessarily, the character from which the piece was named. He might take more than one part, if the leading person disappeared long before the end of the play: thus in the Ajax the protagonist would play Ajax and Teucer; in the Antigone, the heroine, Teiresias, and Eurydice. The deuteragonist usually played the person, or persons, most directly concerned with the principal character;--as Ismene and Haemon in the Antigone. The tritagonist took the smaller parts,--as, for example, the part of a king, when, like Creon in the Antigone, he was not the chief person of the play (Dem. de Fals. Leg. § 247). The Athenian actor went through an elaborate preparation. In the first place, great care was given to the artistic training of the voice (plasma phones), with a view to flexibility and strength. This was demanded alike by the size of the theatres and by the fineness of the Athenian ear. Deportment was also carefully studied. In Attic Tragedy the movements were usually slow and stately: much, also, depended on statuesque effects. As the masks excluded play of feature, it was all the more necessary that the actor should have command of expressive gesture, especially with the hands. Now and then, though not often, he was required to dance (cf. Eur. Phoen. 316); hence his professional training was incomplete without orchestike.
How the tragic actor was dressed before the time of Aeschylus, we do not know; it is only a conjecture that the dress of the Dionysiac priests may have been the model. Aeschylus introduced a type of costume which remained in use throughout the classical period. Its chief elements were the following. (1) A tunic, with stripes of bright colours, sometimes richly embroidered with patterns of flowers or animals. It was girt up high under the breast, and fell in long folds to the feet. The sleeves reached to the hands. Such a tunic was called. poikilon (Pollux). Women sometimes wore a purple robe, with a long train (surtos porphurous). (2) Over the tunic, or robe, an upper garment was worn;--sometimes the himation, an oblong piece of cloth; sometimes a mantle, chlamus, which was cut in a circular form, and fastened by a clasp on the right shoulder. The chlamys was often very splendid. Some other varieties of garment, with special names, are mentioned; but their nature is often uncertain. Padding was worn under the costume, which was designed to exaggerate all the actor's proportions. (3) A boot, which the Greeks called embates, and the Romans cothurnus. The sole was wooden, and the shape such as to fit either foot. The object of this boot--like that of the high girdle--was to increase the actor's apparent stature; and the sole seems to have varied in thickness from some two inches to as many as six, or even more. Indeed, for an inexperienced actor, the difficulty of walking on the embates seems to have resembled that of walking on stilts. We hear of clumsy actors falling; and the support afforded by a long walking-stick was not disdained, where the part admitted of it. (4) Masks. Thespis, according to the tradition, first used pigments to, smear the actor's face, and afterwards adopted linen masks of a simple kind. Masks suited to female characters are said to have been used first by Phrynichus. The improvement made by Aeschylus seems to have been the application of painting to the plain linen masks of the earlier period. In the Alexandrian age, if not earlier, the workmanship of tragic masks had become highly elaborate. Pollux gives a list, derived from that age, which includes six types of old men, eight types of young men, and eleven types of women. These various types. were distinguished by a regular system of conventional traits, such as the colour of the hair, and the mode of wearing it; the tint of the face; the expression given by the eyebrows; the shape of the forehead, and even the line of the nose: thus a hooked nose (epigrupos) was [p. 862] considered appropriate to the anaides. Each mask was known by a technical name: for example, the suffering heroine was the katakomos ochra. [PERSONA] A mask which did not belong to any regular type, but was made for some exceptional part (such as the horned Actaeon), was called enskeuon prosopon. In the tragic mask a peculiar device was used to raise the height of the forehead. This was a cone-shaped frame (onkos), built up above the face, from which the hair of the mask fell over the brows. The height of the onkos varied with the dignity of aspect desired. (5) Special attributes. A king carried a sceptre; Hermes, a herald's staff (kerukeion); the bacchant, a thyrsus, etc. Such an emblem was usually borne in the left hand, in order that the right might be free for gesture: extant works of art show this (cf. Baumeister, Denkmaler, p. 1852; Ovid, Amor. iii. 1, 13). Warriors had swords, spears, etc. But, except by indications of this nature, the dress was not adapted to the particular part which the actor played. This will not appear strange if it is recollected that Athenian drama was an act of Dionysiac worship. The tragic costume was festal first, and dramatic only in a secondary sense, because, at the Dionysia, art was merely the handmaid of religion. It is said that Aeschylus took some hints from the splendid dresses of the hierophant and the daidouchos at the Eleusinian mysteries. (Athen. p. 21 e, reading zelosas hen with Fritzsche; A. Muller, Buhnenalth. p. 229.) This would have been quite in the Aeschylean spirit; but the tradition can no longer be verified. In satyric drama the costume of gods and heroes was the same as in Tragedy, but the chiton was shorter, as livelier movement was required. Silenus, an important figure in satyric drama, was dressed either in tights, set with tufts of goat's hair, or in a tunic and hose of goat's skin.
In the 5th century B.C. we find great actors specially associated by fame with the poets in whose plays they excelled: as Cleander and Mynniscus with Aeschylus; Cleidemides and Tlepolemus with Sophocles; Cephisophon with Euripides. At a somewhat later period, it became usual for the three competitors in tragedy to receive their protagonists from the archon by lot. But that arrangement seems to have ceased before 341 B.C., when a protagonist played in one piece of a trilogy for each of the three poets. Thus, by successive steps, the connexion between poet and actor had become less and less close.
In the development of Attic Tragedy the treatment of the Chorus passed through several phases. Even after Aeschylus had made the dialogue more important than the lyric element, he continued to compose choral odes of a length which seemed excessive--or at least archaic--to the next generation. In the Frogs, Euripides complains that his rival's Chorus used to inflict on the audience four strings of lyric verse, one after another, while the actors were silent (914, ho de choros ereiden hormathous an | melon ephexes tettaras xunechos an: hoi d'esigon). In the Supplices of Aeschylus the Chorus follows up the parodos with eight consecutive pairs of strophes and antistrophes; in the first stasimon of the Agamemnon there are six pairs. Such a practice was tolerated, Euripides remarks, only because the audiences of Aeschylus had been accustomed to it by Phrynichus. The Aeschylean treatment of the Chorus bears, in fact, some impress of the still recent period when the Chorus, and not the dialogue, had been protagonist: the Chorus has lost its old primacy, but it still claims a large share of attention. Here, as in other respects, Sophocles represents a golden mean. Nothing could be more perfect than his management of the Chorus, given the two conditions under which he worked--viz., a matured drama, in which the dialogue necessarily holds the first place; and secondly, the requirement that the Chorus should continue to be an organic part of such drama. His choral odes have always a direct bearing on the action, by commenting on what has passed, by preparing the mind for what is to come, and, generally, by attuning the thoughts of the spectator to successive moods, in harmony with the progress of the action. Then they are always of moderate length, and often very short. Euripides marks a third phase. The Chorus is now little more than an external adjunct to the drama; the choral songs have often nothing to do with the action. This could hardly be avoided. The Chorus presented difficulties to a poet who, like Euripides, was beginning a transition. When the gods and heroes were handled in the new spirit, the old meaning of the Chorus was lost. It is not a reproach to Euripides, it is rather a proof of insight, that he modified the use of the Chorus in accordance with his dramatic aim, and in perhaps the best manner which that aim permitted.
The Chorus was trained and equipped by the choregus whom the Archon had assigned to the poet [Chorus; Theatrum]. The tragic chorus of fifteen entered the orchestra three abreast: this was the arrangement called kata stoichous ( in files ). The auletes walked in front. The leader of the Chorus (koruphaios) walked third in the file nearest the spectators. The two leaders of hemichoria were next to him--one in front of him, as second man of the file, and the other behind him, as fourth. On reaching the orchestra, the Chorus made an evolution to the right, so as to change from three files, five deep, into three ranks, facing the actors, with five men in each rank. This was the disposition kata zuga. The file of five men who, on entering, had been nearest the spectators, now formed the front rank: the coryphaeus was in the middle of it, having on his right and left the half-chorus-leaders, who were thence called parastatai. In dialogue between the actors and the Chorus, the coryphaeus spoke for the Chorus. It is also possible, though not certain, that he alone recited any anapaests which belonged to the choral part. In the delivery of choral odes the strophe was accompanied by a dance-movement towards the right, and the antistrophe by a corresponding movement towards the left; while, during the singing of the epode, the Chorus remained stationary. It would appear that, at least in some cases, the functions of singing and dancing were divided; one part of the Chorus executed the dance, while another sang. The dance proper to Tragedy (he tragike orchesis) was technically called emmeleia, a name denoting stately movement in time to music: [p. 863] as the dance of Comedy was the kordax, and that of satyric drama the sikinnis. The huporchema--sometimes introduced in Tragedy, either incidentally or in the place of a regular choral stasimon--was a more lively dance, a kind of ballet, in which the best dancers appeared, adapting their movements to the sense of the words sung by the other choreutae. Sophocles often employs it to express sudden emotions of delight or hope,--especially for the purpose of contrast, when a tragic catastrophe is at hand. In a kommos, or lyric dialogue between actor and Chorus, parts were sometimes assigned to single choreutae. The verses with which the Chorus close a tragedy were not attended by dancing, but were recited to a musical accompaniment. As a rule the Chorus consists of persons belonging to the scene of the action. In such cases the Chorus entered the orchestra, and left it at the close of the play, by the entrance on the spectator's right hand. But the entrance on his left was used if the Chorus represented strangers to the place, as in Aesch. Suppl.; Soph. Phil.; Eur. Suppl., Ion, Iph. in Aul. With regard to the first song of the Chorus on entering the orchestra (parodos), the extant plays illustrate three different cases. (1.) The play can begin with this parodos: as Aesch. Suppl. and Pers. (2.) The Chorus may enter to the anaepaestic chant after the prologos: as in Soph. Ant. and Aj. (3.) The Chorus may enter silently, after the prologos, and then begin the parodos: as in Aesch. P. V., Soph. El., and often. In some exceptional instances the drama required that the Chorus should enter, not in regular procession, but singly or in small groups (sporaden); as in Aesch. Theb. and Soph. O. C. The costume of the Chorus was, like that of the actors, conventional--a chiton, made shorter than the actor's, for convenience in dancing--and a himation. If the Chorus represented mourners, they could be attired in dark-coloured garments (cf. Aesch. Cho. 19). Where the Chorus represented sailors (as in Soph. Aj. and Phil.) hats (piloi) may have been worn; in the Bacchae of Euripides, the Chorus seem to have carried the tumpana of Bacchants (v. 58). But the general type of costume remained the same, whatever was the special character of the Chorus. Instead of the embates of the tragic actor, they wore the half-boots called krepides, which were sometimes white. In satyric drama the Chorus wore a closefitting dress (somation) representing the naked form, with a short apron (or girdle) of goat's skin.
The Innovations of Euripides.
The unsparing satire of Aristophanes, amusing and often instructive as it is, must not blind us to the nobler side of the effort made by Euripides to maintain the place of Tragedy as a living force in the spiritual life of Athens. A change was coming over the old mental attitude of Athenians towards wards the popular religion and the consecrated mythology. A large and increasing proportion of the spectators in the theatre was now destitute of the training, musical and poetical, which earlier poets could take for granted. The spirit of his age, and the bent of his own genius, led Euripides to renounce much of the ideal grandeur with which Tragedy had been invested by Aeschylus and Sophocles. He made a step from typical towards individual portraiture, relying on the delineation of human passion and human suffering in traits with which the ordinary spectator could sympathise. He was not afraid of being homely, so long as he touched the springs of natural feeling.
At first sight it might seem that, in a dramatist, such a conception deserves nothing but praise. The praise awarded to it must, however, be tempered by regard for the conditions under which the experiment was made. Euripides was not the unfettered creator of a new drama. He inherited and maintained the old framework of Attic Tragedy. He had still only three actors. He had still a Chorus in the orchestra. His materials were still drawn exclusively from the heroic myths. Such Tragedy could be great only so long as it was ideal. Every step by which its persons were brought nearer to everyday life was a step which increased the danger of burlesque. This fact is the element of justice in the attacks made on Euripides by Aristophanes. Euripides gave a signal proof of original genius, not only in the boldness of his conception, but also in the degree of success with which he executed it. Nevertheless his effort was foredommed to the measure of failure which attends on artists who, in seeking an impossible conciliation, achieve only a clever compromise. Euripides stands between ideal and romantic drama; his Tragedy has lost the noblest beauty of idealism, without attaining to the full charm of romance. But, just for that reason, it was through Euripides, rather than through Aeschylus or Sophocles, that the tradition of Tragedy was derived in the later periods of ancient literature.
We said above that the Aristophanic jests on Euripides, however unfair, are often instructive. This is particularly true of the satire in the Frogs. It shows us the points in which Euripides seemed an innovator to those who were familiar with the older school of Tragedy. One such point was his use of the prologue to introduce duce the persons of the drama and explain its subject:--a clumsy and sometimes ludicrous expedient, which is best excused by the plea that the spectators, no longer familiar with the old mythology, required something in the nature of a modern play-bill. Another novelty ascribed to Euripides is his practice of dressing his suffering heroes in rags,--a detraction from their dignity which probably struck Athenians all the more, because it was also a departure from the conventional type of tragic costume described above. With regard to the frequent use of the deus ex machina which has sometimes been made a reproach to Euripides, it is only fair to distinguish between two classes of examples. In some instances his deus ex machina is really no better than a mechanical expedient: this might be said of the Andromache and of the Orestes. But in some other cases the intervention is dramatically warranted by the plot, as in the Hippolytus and in the Bacchae. In respect to lyrics, Aristophanes represents Euripides as having admitted the more florid style which was becoming fashionable, and having thus destroyed the grave dignity of the old choral song. The extant plays of Euripides indicate that there was some ground for this charge: jingling repetitions of single words are especially frequent; no fewer than sixteen instances occur in 150 lines of the Orestes. But the most important innovation made by Euripides in the lyric province was the introduction of florid lyric solos (monoidiai), to be sung by an actor on the stage. Perhaps the cleverest stroke in the Frogs is the parody of such a monoidia (1331 ff.), in the course of which the hapless heroine describes herself as linou meston atrakton | heieieieieieilissousa cheroin.
After 400 B.C. Greek Tragedy declined. Numerous tragic poets appeared, indeed, who won more or less applause from their contemporaries; but no one of them rivalled the great masters. In the fourth century B.C. an ordinance was made that some work of Aeschylus, Sophocles, or Euripides should always be produced at the Dionysia along with the new tragedies. Lycurgus (circ. 330 B.C.) caused a standard text of those three poets to be deposited in the public archives, with a view to guarding against further corruption by actors; and this text afterwards passed into the possession of Ptolemy Euergetes (247-222 B.C.). Down to about 300 B.C., Athens continued to be the chief seat of Tragedy. Alexandria afterwards became so; and under the Ptolemies tragic composition had many votaries. Among these were the seven poets who, in the reign of Philadelphus (283-247 B.C.), were known as the tragic Pleiad. It was in 217 A.D. that the edict of Caracalla abolished theatrical performances at Alexandria.
Aristotle defines Tragedy as the imitation of an action which is serious, complete in itself, and of a sufficient magnitude or compass. The instrument of imitation is language, made delightful to the hearers, either (a) by metre alone, or (b) by metre combined with music. Further, this language is not used in the way of narrative merely, but is conjoined with action on the part of the speakers. The elements of Tragedy are six in number:--muthos, the story; ethe, the moral qualities of the persons; lexis, the verbal form; dianoia, the thoughts or sentiments; opsis, the presentation to the eye (under which Aristotle includes not merely scenic accessories of every kind, but also gesture and dancing); melopoia, musical composition. In every tragedy there is desis, a tying of a knot, and lusis, a solution. The most effective kind of lusis is that which is introduced by a peripeteia, a sudden reversal of fortune for the persons of the drama; or by an anagnorisis, the discovery of a previously concealed relationship between the persons. The anagnorisis may or may not be accompanied by a peripeteia. A muthos is said to be peplegmenos when it involves a peripeteia, an anagnorisis, or both. It is haplous when the lusis is managed without either. Again, a tragedy is pathetike when the chief person acts mainly under the influence of pathos, a strong impulse of the mind,--as Medea does. It is ethike when the chief person acts mainly in accord with a deliberately formed purpose (proairesis), as Antigone does. As to the so-called unities, the unity of action is the only one upon which Aristotle insists. The action represented by tragedy must be one; it must not be a series of incoherent or loosely-linked episodes. About the unity of place he says nothing at all. As to the unity of time, he says that Tragedy now seeks, as far as possible, to confine the supposed action within the compass of a single day, or nearly so: but the earliest form of Tragedy, he adds, did not even do this; in it, just as in epic poetry, the time was indefinite. Viewed as a composition, Tragedy consists of the following parts; which are, in Aristotle's phrase, the mere kata to poson, as distinguished from the six elements named above, which are the mere kata to poion. All that part of a tragedy which precedes the first choral song is called prologos. The part which comes between two choral songs is an epeisodion (a term probably derived from the reappearance, epeisodos, of the single actor in primitive Tragedy). The exodos is the part after the last choral song. The parodos is the first utterance of the whole Chorus. The stasimon is a choral song without anapaests or trochaics: i.e., not preceded by an anapaestic march, like the parodos, nor interrupted by dialogue in trochaic tetrameters, such as that which the Chorus in the Agamemmon (ad fin.) holds with the actors. The term stasimon melos means literally, a song by the Chorus at its station in the orchestra. A kommos is a threnos koinos chorou kai apo skenes, a lyric lament, sustained partly by the Chorus and partly by an actor.
Tragedy is described by Aristotle as di' eleou kai phobou perainousa ten ton toiouton pathematon katharsin, effecting, by means of pity and terror, that purgation (of the soul) which belongs to (is proper for) such feelings. The word katharsis involves a medical metaphor, from the use of purgatives. Tragedy excites pity and terror by presenting to the mind things which are truly pitiable and terrible. Now, pity and terror are feelings natural to men; but they are often excited by unworthy causes. When they are moved, as Tragedy moves them, by a worthy cause, then the mind experiences that sense of relief which comes from finding an outlet for a natural energy. And thus the impressions made by Tragedy leave behind them in the spectator a temperate and harmonious state of the soul. Similarly Aristotle speaks of the enthusiastic worshippers of Dionysus as obtaining a katharsis, a healthful relief, by the lyric utterance of their sacred frenzy:--hotan exorgiazosi ten psuchen melesi, kathistamenous, hosper iatreias tuchontas kai katharseos (Pol. viii. 7).
Of the three great tragedians, Sophocles seems to have been on the whole the favourite of Aristotle, who refers to him in the Poetics about twenty times, and in all cases, except three, with praise. The Oedipus Tyrannus is cited in no less than ten places. Euripides is defended against the critics who had complained that his plays usually ended unhappily; this, says Aristotle, is right in Tragedy, and the, proof is that Euripides, although a faulty composer in other respects, is found to be at, least the most tragic of poets (ei kai ta alla me eu oikonomei, alla tragikotatos ge ton poieton phainetai: Poet. 13). By most tragic is here meant, exciting pity most strongly, --most pathetic. But in Aristotle's other notices of Euripides censure decidedly predominates [p. 865] over praise. Aeschylus is named only thrice in the Poetics: there are further three citations of his plays without his name. Aristotle seems to regard him as belonging to a period when the proper type of Tragedy had not yet been matured. In this connexion it may be noticed that not only are the terms trilogy and tetralogy absent from the Poetics, but there is no indication in the treatise that tragedies had ever been produced otherwise than singly. In one place, indeed (c. 24), there is a reference to the number of tragedies set for one hearing (i. e. performed in one day); but nothing in the context forbids us to suppose as many poets as pieces. The reason of this silence is simply, doubtless, that the grouping of plays in representation was foreign to the subject with which Aristotle was immediately concerned,--viz. the analysis of Tragedy considered as a form of poetical art. Indeed, the scenic aspect of drama generally receives comparatively little attention from him. The production of scenic effects (apergasia ton opseon) is the affair of the stage-manager. The art of the actor, again, is but slightly touched, since it lies outside of the poet's domain.
Aristotle compiled a work called Didaskaliai, Dramatic performances, being a list of the tragedies and comedies produced at Athens in each year. His materials were contemporary records. In the 5th century B.C. it had been customary for the archon, after each festival at which dramas had been performed, to draw up a list of the competing poets, the choregi, the plays, and the protagonists, with a notice of the order in which the judges had placed the competitors. This record was preserved in the public archives. At some time between 450 and 400 B.C. it became usual to engrave such a record on a stone tablet, and to set it up in or near the Dionysiac theatre. Further, the choregus whose poet gained the prize received a tripod from the state, and erected it, with an inscription, in the same neighbourhood. Aristotle's compilation has perished, but its nature is known from citations of it which occur in the Greek Arguments to some plays, in scholia, and in late writers. There are altogether thirteen such citations, five of which cite the Didaskaliai with Aristotle's name, and eight without it. They are collected in the Berlin Aristotle (vol. v. p. 1572). About 260 B.C. the Alexandrian poet Callimachus compiled another work of the same kind, Pinax kai anagraphe ton kata chronous ap' arches genomenon didaskalion, A table and record of dramatic performances from the earliest times. He made use of Aristotle's Didaskaliai (Schol. Ar. Nub. 552). Works of a similar kind were written by Aristophanes of Byzantium (circ. 200 B.C.), and by other scholars of Alexandria and of Pergamum. Several of these writings were extant as late at least as 150 A.D. This appears from Athenaeus, who was able to consult the Didaskaliai of Callimachus and Aristophanes, as well as the Pergamene records (Athen. p. 336 c). Among the authors of the last-named was Carystius of Pergamum (circ. 110 B.C.), who wrote peri Didaskalion. The period covered by the extant fragments of Didaskaliai ranges from 472 B.C. (Arg. Aesch. Persae) to 388 B.C. (Arg. Ar. Plut.).
The first half of the 3rd century B.C. was the period at which the influence of Greek literature began to be directly felt by the Romans. Tarentum was the greatest of the Greek colonies in Southern Italy. After the fall of Tarentum in 272 B.C., the intercourse between Romans and Greeks became more familiar. In the First Punic War (263-241 B.C.) Sicily was the principal battle-ground; and in Sicily the Romans had ample facilities for improving their acquaintance with the Greek language. They had also frequent opportunities of witnessing Greek plays. Just after the close of the war the first attempt at a Latin reproduction of Greek tragedy was made by Livius Andronicus (240 B.C.). He was a Greek, probably of Tarentum, and had received his freedom from his master, M. Livius Salinator, whose sons he had educated. He then settled at Rome, and devoted the rest of his life to literary work. It may be conjectured that most of his plays were translated from the Greek. All of them, so far as we know, were on Greek subjects. Among the titles are Aegisthus, Ecus Trojanus, Ajax, Tereus, Hermione. His Latin style appears to have been harsh and crude. Livianae fabulae non satis dignae quae iterum legantur is Cicero's concise verdict (Brutus, 18, 71).
Five years after the first essay of Livius Andronicus, a Latin dramatist of greater originality came forward (235 B.C.). Cn. Naevius was probably a Campanian; and the racy vigour with which he could use his native language entitles him to be regarded as the earliest Roman poet. Comedy was the form of drama in which Naevius chiefly excelled; and he turned it to the purposes of political strife, in a spirit similar to that of Aristophanes. But he was also a writer of tragedy. His Lycargus was akin in theme to the Bacchae of Euripides; while the titles of his Andromache, Ecus Trojanus, and Hector Proficiscens, show that, like Livius, he drew largely on the Trojan cycle. At the same time he occasionally composed tragedies founded on Roman history, or, as they were technically called, fabulae praetextatae. The earliest praetextatae on record are his; one of them was called Romulus. In the scanty fragments of his works we can recognise his ardour, his self-confidence, his somewhat aggressive vigour, and his gift for terse and nervous expression, of which the familiar laudari a laudato viro is a specimen.
The career of Naevius was drawing to a close when Q. Ennius came to Rome (204 B.C.). Ennius, a native of Rudiae in Calabria, was serving as a centurion with the army in Sardinia, when Cato arrived there as quaestor. Ennius followed Cato to Rome; acquired the Roman citizenship in 184 B.C.; and made his permanent abode on the Aventine. Here we have to do with his work only so far as it concerned Tragedy. Although his Annals and his Satires were more characteristic products of his genius, he was also the most popular tragic dramatist who had yet appeared; and it was due to him, in the first instance, that Roman Tragedy acquired the popularity which [p. 866] it retained down to the days of Cicero. About twenty-five of his tragedies are known by their titles. Two of these were praetextatae,--one of which, called Sabinae, dealt with the intervention of the Sabine women in the war between Romulus and Tatius; while another, the Ambracia, turned on the capture of the town of Ambracia in the Aetolian war. The other pieces were on Greek subjects,--about one half of them being connected with the Trojan war. His Medea was translated from the play of Euripides, and the opening lines, which are extant, indicate that the version was a tolerably close one. They have a certain rugged majesty which agrees with Horace's description of the style used by Ennius in Tragedy,--In scaenam missos magno cum pondere versus.
M. Pacuvius, a nephew of Ennius by the mother's side, was a native of Brundusium. He is thus the third instance (Livius and Ennius being the two others) in which early Roman drama is associated with South Italian birth. Pacuvius was born about 219 B.C., and lived to the age of ninety. Of his tragedies, one, called Paulus, was a praetextata; twelve more are known to have been on Greek subjects; and among these one of the most celebrated, the Antiope, was a translation from Euripides. Some remarkable fragments of his Chryses--a tragedy concerned, like his Dulorestes, with the wanderings of Orestes in search of Pylades--disclose the growth of a Roman interest in physical philosophy, and also in ethical questions. About 400 lines of Pacuvius are extant, but many of these are merely single verses, preserved by grammarians as examples of strange words or usages. Much as Pacuvius was admired on other grounds, his Latinity was not accounted pure by Cicero, who couples him with the comic poet Caecilius in the censure, male locutos esse (Brutus, 74, 258). Pacuvius was prone to coin new forms of words (such as temeritudo, concorditas), and carried the invention of compound adjectives to an extent which sometimes became ludicrous,--as in Nerei repandirostrum incurvicervicum pecus.
L. Attius was born at Pisaurum, a Roman colony in Umbria, in 170 B.C. The forms Attius and Accius are equally well-attested; but in the Imperial age the form with tt became predominant; and the Greeks always wrote Attios (Teuffel, Hist. Rom. Lit. § 119, 1). The aged Pacuvius, having left Rome in ill-health, was spending the evening of his days at Brundusium, when Attius, then a young man, passed through that place on his way to Asia. Attius was entertained by Pacuvius, and read to him his tragedy Atreus. The old man found it sonorous and elevated, but somewhat harsh and crude; and the younger poet, admitting the defect, expressed his hope that the mellowing influence of time would appear in his riper work. The excellences which Pacuvius recognised must have been present in the maturer writings of Attius, whom Horace calls altus, and Cicero, gravis et ingeniosus poeta. The harshness of his earlier style was due, perhaps, to a youthful excess of that nervous and impetuous character, as Cicero calls it (de Orat. iii. 58, 217), which afterwards distinguished him, and which Ovid expresses by the epithet animosus. Attius was far the most productive of the Roman tragic dramatists. The extant notices and fragments indicate, according to one estimate, about 37 pieces; according to another, about 50. Two of these were praetextatae;--the Brutus, on the downfall of the Tarquins and the Aeneeadae, dealing with the legend of the Decius who devoted himself at the battle of Sentinum. There are indications that Attius was a student of Sophocles, though Euripides was probably his chief model. Thus the verse in his Armorum indicium (fr. 10), virtuti sis par, dispar fortunis patris, is translated from Soph. Ai. 550 f. Among his other celebrated tragedies were the Atreus, Epigoni, Philocteta, Anstigona, Telephus. Cicero, in his youth, had. often listened to the reminiscences of Attius (Brutus, 28, 107). The poet, who was sixty-four at the date of the orator's birth (106 B.C.), must therefore have lived to an advanced age.
The period from 240 to 100 B.C. is the first period in the history of Roman poetry and oratory. And the century from 200 to 100 B.C. marks the flourishing age of Roman Tragedy, as cultivated by Ennius, Pacuvius, and Attius. But Tragedy continued to be a favourite form of composition in the later years of the Republic and in the earlier part of the Imperial age. It became, however, more and more a literary exercise, less and less a form of poetry which could appeal with living force to the mind of the people. In the Augustan age C. Asinius Pollio wrote tragedies which seem to have been acted. Virgil's well-known praise of them, as sola Sophocleo digna cothurno, must be qualified by the criticism in the Dialogus de Oratoribus (c. 21), where Tacitus observes that the harshest traits of earlier Roman tragedy were reproduced in the style of Pollio ( adeo, durus et siccus est ). In the same dialogue high praise is given to the Medea of Ovid and the Thyestes of Varius (c. 12). No fragment of this Medea remains, except a few words quoted by Quintilian (xii. 10, 75). Of the Thyestes Quintilian says that it is comparable to any Greek Tragedy (x. 1, 98); and in another place he quotes it (iii. 8, 45). Two anapaestic fragments are also extant (Ribbeck, Frag. Lat. p. 195 f.). But for Ovid and for Varius, as for other less famous poets, Tragedy was now a mere parergon, a field into which they might make occasional excursions, not the province of poetry in which they sought to establish their permanent renown. In the middle of the 1st century A.D. we have eight tragedies on Greek subjects by L. Annaeus Seneca: Hercules Furens, Thyestes, Phaedra, Oedipus, Troades (Hecuba), Medea, Agamemnon, Hercules Oetaeus; also part of an Oedipus Coloneus (362 lines), and of a Phoenissae (302). A praetextata called Octavia, which was formerly ascribed to Seneca, was certainly of later origin. The parentage of the other tragedies has also been disputed, but the results of recent criticism confirm Seneca's authorship. The general characteristic of the plays is rhetoric of the most pompous and artificial kind. A fertile and lively fancy is present; the psychology, too, is often acute; but there is no depth either of thought or of feeling. As most of Seneca's Greek models are extant, a comparison is instructive. It serves to show how completely, in this latest age of Roman [p. 867] Tragedy, the love of declamation had displaced all regard for the soul and essence of tragic art. The pieces of Seneca were primarily designed, doubtless, for recitation; but it is not impossible that, in Nero's age, they were also acted; and certain scenic hints have been thought to point in that direction (e.g. Phaedra, 392 f.). The last Roman writer of Tragedy who claims mention is Curiatius Maternus, whose activity extended from the reign of Nero to that of Vespasian. He wrote both tragedies (as Medea, Thyestes) and praetextatae (as Domitius, Cato); and his eminent reputation is attested by several passages in the Tacitean Dialogus (cc. 2, 3, 5, 11).
In looking back on the course of Roman Tragedy as a whole, we see, in the first place, that for inspiration and material it was altogether dependent on Greece. Euripides was more especially the master of the Roman dramatists, because, in his hands, Tragedy had become less distinctively Hellenic, and therefore more susceptible of imitation by those who were strangers to the Hellenic spirit. In the plays of Euripides, the Chorus was already ceasing to be an organic part of drama; and the Roman dramatists went only one step farther when they banished the Chorus from the orchestra, leaving to it merely an occasional part in the dialogue. Lyrics of a simple character, with a musical accompaniment, served, indeed, to accentuate the more impassioned moments of a Roman tragedy; but, save for these, the lyric element of the great Attic drama had vanished. In dialogue the iambic and trochaic metres were retained: yet even here the Roman imitation marred the Greek original. Any foot possible for an iambic verse was now admitted in any place except the last. The finer rhythms were thus destroyed. Quintilian says, Comedy is our weak point (x. 1, 99). But, so far as the tragic fragments warrant a judgment, Roman Tragedy was, in style, much less successful than Roman Comedy. Comedy had more in common with the satura, and the satura is the one species of composition in which the Roman mind expressed itself with a truly original force. [see Satura] At the same time it is clear that there were noble qualities in the Roman Tragedy of the Republic. It was marked by earnestness and by oratorical power; the tones of the statesman and of the soldier were heard in it; it imbued the youth of Rome with the fas et antiqua castitudo (as Attius says),--with the lessons of ancestral fortitude and prudence; it taught the men who were conquering the world how they should work, how they should suffer, and how they should rule. So long as Roman Tragedy was doing this, it was living, though its spirit was not Athenian. But this moral and political significance departed with the Republic; and then it was inevitable that Roman Tragedy should descend to the place which it occupies under the Empire. That noble form of drama which the Attic genius had matured, and which is first made known to us in the majestic poetry of Aeschylus, disappears from the ancient world in the rhetoric of Seneca.
This text is from: A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890) (eds. William Smith, LLD, William Wayte, G. E. Marindin). Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
1. In Athens the production of plays was a State affair, not a private undertaking. It formed a great part of the religious festival of the Dionysia, in which the drama took its rise (see Dionysia); and it was only at the Greater Dionysia that pieces could be performed during the author's lifetime. The performances lasted three days and took the form of musical contests, the competitors being three tragic poets, with their tetralogies, and five comic poets, with one piece each. The authority who superintended the whole was the archon, to whom the poets had to bring their plays for reading and apply for a chorus. If the pieces were accepted and the chorus granted, the citizens who were liable for the choregia undertook at their own cost to practise and furnish for them one chorus each. (See Liturgia.) The poets whose plays were accepted received a reward from the State. The State also supplied the regular number of actors, and made provision for the maintenance of order during the performances. At the end of the performance a certain number of persons (usually five) were chosen by lot from a committee (agonothetai) nominated by the Senate to award the prizes, and bound by solemn oath to give their judgment on the plays, the choregi, and the actors. The poet who won the first prize was presented with a crown in the presence of the assembled multitude--the highest distinction that could be conferred on a dramatic author at Athens. The victorious choregus also received a crown, with the permission to dedicate a votive offering to Dionysus. This was generally a tripod, which was set up either in the theatre or in the temple of the deity or in the Street of Tripods, so named from this custom, an inscription being put on it recording the event, as in that of Panofka, Musee Blacas, pl. I. (British Museum): Akamantis enika phule: Glaukon kalos. The actors in the successful play received prizes of money, besides the usual honoraria.
From the time of Sophocles the actors in a play were three in number. They had to represent all the parts, those of women included. This involved changing their costume several times during the performance. The three actors were distinguished as protagonistes, deuteragonistes, and tritagonistes, according to the importance of their parts. If the piece required a fourth actor, which was seldom the case, the choregus had to provide one. The choregus had also to see to the position and equipment of the mute actors.
In earlier times it is possible that the persons engaged in the representation did not make a business of their art, but performed gratuitously, as the poets down to the time of Sophocles appeared upon the stage. But the dramatic art gradually became a profession requiring careful preparation, and winning general respect for its members as artists. The chief requirements for the profession were distinctness and correctness of pronunciation, especially in declamatory passages, and an unusual power of memory, as there was no prompter in a Greek theatre. An actor had also to be thoroughly trained in singing, melodramatic action, dancing, and play of gesture. The latter was especially necessary, as the use of masks precluded any facial expression. The actors were according to strict rule assigned to the poets by lot; yet a poet generally had his special protagonist, on whose peculiar gifts he kept his eye in writing the dramatic pieces.
The Athenian tragedies began to be known all over the Hellenic world as early as the time of Aeschylus. The first city outside of Attica that had a theatre was Syracuse, where Aeschylus brought out some of his own plays. Scenic contests soon began to form part of the religious festivals in various Greek cities, and were celebrated in honour of other deities besides Dionysus. It was a habit of Alexander the Great to celebrate almost every considerable event with dramatic exhibitions, and after him this became the regular custom. A considerable increase in the number of actors was one consequence of the new demand. The actors called themselves artists of Dionysus, and in the larger cities they formed permanent societies (sunodoi) with special privileges, including exemption from military service and security in person and property. These companies had a regular organization, presided over by a priest of their patron-god Dionysus, annually elected from among their members. A treasurer and officers completed the staff. At the time of the festivals the societies sent out their members in groups of three actors, with a manager and a flute-player, to the different cities. This business was especially lively in Ionia and on the Euxine, the societies of Teos being the most distinguished. The same arrangement was adopted in Italy, and continued to exist under the Roman Empire.
The universal employment of masks was a remarkable peculiarity of costume. (See Persona.) It naturally excluded all play of feature, but the masks corresponded to the general types of character, as well as to the special types indicated by the requirements of the play. Certain conventionalities were observed in the colour of the hair. Goddesses and young persons had light hair; gods and persons of riper age, dark brown; aged persons, white; and the deities of the lower world, black. The height of the masks and top-knots varied with the age of the actors and the parts they took. Lucian ridicules the "chest-paddings and stomach-paddings" of the tragic actors (De Salt. 27). Their stature was considerably heightened in tragedies by the high boot (see Cothurnus), and the defects in proportion corrected by padding and the use of a kind of gloves. The conventionalities of costume, probably as fixed by Aeschylus, maintained themselves as long as Greek tragedies were performed at all. Men and women of high rank wore on the stage a variegated or richly embroidered long-sleeved chiton, reaching to the feet, and fastened with a girdle as high as the breast. The upper garment, whether himation or chlamus, was long and splendid, and often embroidered with gold. Kings and queens had a purple train and a white himation with a purple border; soothsayers, a netted upper garment reaching to the feet. Persons in misfortune, especially fugitives, appeared in soiled garments of gray, green, or blue; black was the symbol of mourning. Soothsayers always wore a woollen garment of network; shepherds, a short leathern tunic; while each of the gods had some distinguishing mark, as the bow for Apollo, the caduceus for Hermes, the aegis for Athene. So with the well-known heroes: Heracles bore a club; Perseus, the cap of darkness. Kings wore a crown, and carried a sceptre. Warriors appeared in complete armour. Old men bore a staff with a curved handle, introduced by Sophocles. Messengers who brought good news were crowned with olive or laurel. Myrtle crowns denoted festivity. Foreigners wore some one special badge, as a Persian turban for Darius ( Aesch. Pers.661). From the time of Euripides, heroes in misfortune (e. g. Telephus and Philoctetes) were sometimes dressed in rags.
In the Satyric Drama the costumes of the heroic characters resembled in all essentials what they wore in the tragedies, although, to suit the greater liveliness of the action, the chiton was shorter and the boot lower. In the Old Comedy the costumes were taken as nearly as possible from actual life, but in the Middle and New Comedy they were conventional. The men wore a white coat; youths, a purple one; slaves, a motley, with mantle to match; cooks, an unbleached double mantle; peasants, a fur or shaggy coat, with wallet and staff; panders, a coloured coat and motley overgarment. Old women appeared in sky-blue or dark yellow; priestesses and maidens, in white; courtesans, in motley colours, and so on. Red hair marked a roguish slave; beards were not given to youths or old men. The eyebrows were strongly marked and highly characteristic. When drawn up, they denoted pride or impudence. A touchy old man had one eyebrow drawn up and one down. The members of the chorus were masked and dressed in a costume corresponding to the part assigned them by the poet. (On their dress in the Satyric Drama, see Satyric Drama.) The chorus of the comedy caricatured the ordinary dress of the tragic chorus. Sometimes they represented animals, as in the Frogsand Birdsof Aristophanes. In the Frogsthey wore tight dresses of frog-colour, and masks with a mouth wide open; in the Birds, large beaks, bunches of feathers, combs, and so on, to imitate particular birds.
2. Roman. Dramatic performances in Rome, as in Greece, formed a part of the usual public festivals, whether exceptional or ordinary, and were set on foot by the aediles and praetors. (See Ludi.) A private individual, however, if he were giving a festival or celebrating a funeral, would have theatrical representations on his own account. The giver of the festival hired a troupe of players (grex), the director of which (dominus gregis) bought a play from a poet at his own risk. If the piece was a failure the manager received no compensation. But after its performance the piece became his property, to be used at future representations for his own profit. In the time of Cicero, when it was fashionable to revive the works of older masters, the selection of suitable pieces was generally left to the director. The Romans did not, like the Greeks, limit the number of actors to three, but varied it according to the requirements of the play. Women's parts were originally played by men, as in Greece. Women first appeared in mimes, and not till very late times in comedies. The actors were usually freedmen or slaves, whom their masters sent out to be educated, and then hired them out to the directors of the theatres. The profession was technically branded with infamia, nor was its legal position ever essentially altered. The social standing of actors was, however, improved through the influence of Greek education; and gifted artists like the comedian Roscius, and Aesopus, the tragedian, in Cicero's time, enjoyed the friendship of the best men in Rome. The instance of these two men may show what profits could be made by a good actor. Roscius received, for every day that he played, $175, and made an annual income of some $21,000. Aesopus, in spite of his great extravagance, left $852,500 at his death. Besides the regular honoraria, actors, if thought to deserve it, received other and voluntary presents from the giver of the performance. These often took the form of finely wrought crowns of silver or gold work. Masks were not worn until Roscius made their use general. Before his time actors had recourse to false hair of different colours and paint for the face. Young men wore black wigs; slaves, red ones; old men, white ones. The costume in general was modelled on that of actual life, Greek or Roman, but parasites were conventionally represented in black or gray (Pollux, iv. 148). As early as the later years of the Republic, a great increase took place in the splendour of the costumes and the general magnificence of the performance. In tragedy, particularly, a new effect was attained by massing the actors in great numbers on the stage.
This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
The word choros in Greek meant a number of persons who performed songs and dances at religious festivals. When the drama at Athens was developed from the dithyrambic choruses, the chorus was retained as the chief element in the Dionysiac festival. With the old dramatists the choral songs and dances much preponderated over the action proper. As the form of the drama developed, the sphere of the chorus was gradually limited, so that it took the comparatively subordinate position which it occupies in the extant tragedies and comedies. The function of the chorus represented by its leader was to act as an ideal public, more or less connected with the dramatis personae. It might consist of old men and women or of maidens. It took an interest in the occurrences of the drama, watched the action with quiet sympathy, and sometimes interfered--if not to act, at least to advise, comfort, exhort, or give warning. At the critical points of the action, it performed long lyrical pieces with suitable action of dance and gesture. In the better times of the drama these songs stood in close connection with the action; but even in Euripides this connection is sometimes loose, and with the later tragedians, after the time of Agathon, the choral performance sank to a mere intermezzo. The style of the chorus was distinguished from that of the dialogue partly by its complex lyrical form, partly by its language, in which it adopted a mixture of Attic and Doric forms. The proper place of the chorus was on the orchestra, on different parts of which, after a solemn march, it remained until the end of the piece, drawn up, while standing, in a square. During the action it seldom left the orchestra to reappear, and it was quite exceptional for it to appear on the stage. As the performance went on, the chorus would change its place on the orchestra; as the piece required, it would divide into semi-choruses and perform a variety of artistic movements and dances. The name emmeleia was given to the tragic dance, which, though not lacking in animation, had a solemn and measured character. The comedy had its burlesque and often indecent performance called kordax; the satyric drama its Sikinnis, representing the wanton movements of satyrs. The songs of the choruses, too, had their special names. The first ode performed by the entire body was called parodos; the pieces intervening between the parts of the play, stasima; the songs of mourning, in which the chorus took part with the actors, kommoi. The [p. 336] number of the members (choreutai) was, in tragedies, originally twelve, and after Sophocles fifteen. This was probably the number allowed in the satyric drama; the chorus in the Old Comedy numbered twenty-four.
The business of getting the members of the chorus together, paying them, maintaining them during the time of practice, and generally equipping them for performance, was regarded as a leitourgia, or public service, and devolved on a wealthy private citizen called a choregos, to whom it was a matter of considerable trouble and expense. We know from individual instances that the cost of a tragic chorus might run up to thirty minae (about $540), of a comic chorus to sixteen minae (about $265). If victorious, the choregus received a crown and a finely wrought tripod. This he either dedicated, with an inscription, to some deity as a memorial of his triumph, or set up on a marble structure built for the purpose in the form of a temple, in a street named the Street of Tripods, from the number of these monuments which were erected there. One of these memorials, put up by a certain Lysicrates in B.C. 335, still remains. (See Choregus.) After the Peloponnesian War, the prosperity of Athens declined so much that it was often difficult to find a sufficient number of choregi to supply the festivals. The State, therefore, had to take the business upon itself. But many choruses came to an end altogether. This was the case with the comic chorus in the later years of Aristophanes; and the poets of the Middle and New Comedy accordingly dropped the chorus. This explains the fact that there is no proper chorus in the Roman comedy, which is an imitation of the New Comedy of the Greeks. In their tragedies, however, imitated from Greek originals, the Romans retained the chorus, which, as the Roman theatre had no orchestra, was placed on the stage, and as a rule performed between the acts, but sometimes during the performance as well. See Drama; Theatrum.
The Roman chorus, in fact, belonged especially to the crepidatae--i. e. the tragedies modelled on and derived from the Greek ones; but it also appears in the national tragedy of the Romans, the praetextatae. Even though Diomedes declares that the Roman comedy had no chorus, yet this is only true generally, for there is an undoubted chorus of fishermen in the Rudens of Plautus. It was probably the whole company of actors (caterva, grex), not a chorus, which said the "Plaudite" with which comedies end. There appear to have been choruses in the pantomimus and in the pyrrhica of the Empire. There was no fixed number of choreutae. As that part of the theatre which was the Greek orchestra was given up to the spectators at Rome, the chorus had to occupy the stage (Vitruv. v. 6, 2). The Roman chorus took more part in the action of the drama than did the Greek chorus ( Ars Poet. 193). It was led by a magister chori, who had his place in the middle of the chorus, and so was called mesochorus ( Epist. ii. 14, 6). The musical accompaniment was played by a choraules on a double flute. Between the acts the chorus (probably in tragedy) and the tibicen (in comedy) used to sing or play (Donatus, Arg. ad Andriam); and Horace (Ars Poet. 194) especially urges that the subject of the songs should be pertinent to the action of the drama. The chorus was composed of men who were professionals (artifices), and who were for the most part slaves. As the chorus of the Romans sometimes represented women, they must have worn masks. They were probably dressed after the manner of the Greeks, and the dresses appear to have been very splendid, as was the whole production of plays at the end of the Republic and during imperial times --e. g. purple chlamydes were wanted for a chorus of soldiers, as is told in a well-known story of Lucullus ( Epist. i. 6, 40).
This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Choregus (choregos); in Latin, Choragus. The person who supplied a properly trained
The maintenance of a choregia (choregia) was one of the regularly recurring state burdens (enkuklioi leitourgiai) at Athens. Originally the chorus consisted of all the inhabitants in the State. With the improvement of the arts of music and dancing, the distinction of spectators and performers arose; it became more a matter of art to sing and dance in the chorus; paid performers were employed; and at last the duties of this branch of worship devolved upon one person, selected by the State to be their representative, who defrayed all the expenses which were incurred on the different occasions. This person was the choregus. It was the duty of the managers of a tribe (epimeletai phules) to which a choregia had come round, to provide a person to perform the duties of it; and the person appointed by them had to meet the expenses of the chorus in all plays, tragic or comic (tragoidois, komoidois) and satirical; and of the lyric choruses of men and boys, the pyrrhichistae, cyclian dancers, and flute-players (choregein andrasi, or andrikois chorois, paidikois chorois, purrichistais, kuklioi choroi auletais andrasin), etc. He had first to collect his chorus, and then to procure a teacher (chorodidaskalos), whom he paid for instructing the choreutae. The choregi drew lots for the first choice of teachers; for as their credit depended upon the success of their chorus in the dramatic or lyric contests, it was of great importance to them whose assistance they secured. When the chorus was composed of boys, the choregus was occasionally allowed to press children for it, in case their parents were refractory. The chorus were generally maintained, during the period of their instruction, at the expense of the choregus, and he had also to provide such meat and drink as would contribute to strengthen the voice of the singers. The expenses of the different choruses are given by Lysias as follows: Chorus of men, 20 minae; with the tripod, 50 minae; pyrrhic chorus, 8 minae; pyrrhic chorus of boys, 7 minae; tragic chorus, 30 minae; comic, 16 minae; cyclian chorus, 300 minae. According to Demosthenes, the chorus of flute-players cost a great deal more than the tragic chorus. The choregus who exhibited the best musical or theatrical entertainment received as a prize a tripod, which he had the expense of consecrating, and sometimes he had also to build the monument on which it was placed. There was a whole street at Athens formed by the line of these tripodtemples, and called "The Street of the Tripods." A well-preserved specimen is the Choragic Monument of one Lysicrates, shown in the illustration. The laws of Solon prescribed forty as the proper age for the choregus, but this law was not long in force.
The choragus among the Romans (Plaut. Trin.iv. 2. 16) was a lender of costumes and properties, and to him the aediles used to give a contract for supplying the necessary accessories for a play. In Plautus (Curc. iv. 1), the choragus delivers a sort of parabasis. Under the Empire the procurator summi choragii, appointed probably by Domitian, was a regular imperial minister, with a great many subordinates, and had charge of the whole supply of decoration, machinery, and costume necessary for the performance of the various shows as well in the amphitheatre as in the theatre. A subdivision of this office was the ratio ornamentorum, which had special reference to the "make-up" of the actors. Under Gordian we find the name had vanished. Apuleius ( Apol.i. 13) had spoken of the choragium thymelicum; but the functionary called logista thymelae now took the place of the procurator summi choragii. In the fourth century, at Rome the praefectus urbi, in the East the praefectus praetorio, and in Africa the proconsul looked after the games. In the fifth century, at Rome, Milan, and Carthage, we find this done by tribuni voluptatum.
This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited August 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
Histrio (hupokrites). An actor.
The steps by which hupokrinomai, hupokrites acquired their dramatic meaning have been variously traced. The primitive sense of "answering" (i. e. of the quick repartee of dialogue between the actor and the chorus--hupokrinesthai implying a more ready and instantaneous reply than apokrinesthai) seems quite sufficient for the purpose ( Poll.iv. 123).
It is shown in the articles Chorus and Dionysia that the Greek drama originated in the chorus which at the festivals of Dionysus danced around his altar, and that at first one person detached himself from the chorus and, with mimetic gestures, related his story either to the chorus or in conversation with it. If the story thus acted required more than one person, they were all represented in succession by the same choreutes. Thespis, who was regarded in antiquity as the inventor of tragedy, was the first to employ an actor distinct from the chorus; the latter still took the most important part in the performance, but lost something of its original character by becoming an interlocutor in the dialogue. Aeschylus therefore added a second actor, so that the action and the dialogue became independent of the chorus, and the dramatist at the same time had an opportunity of showing two persons in contrast with each other on the stage (Aristot. Poet.4. 16). Sophocles took the final step by adding a third actor (Aristot. l. c.); and towards the close of his career, Aeschylus found it necessary to follow the example of his younger rival, and to introduce a third actor, as is seen in the Agamemnon, Choephori, and Eumenides ( Poll.iv. 110). This number of three actors was also adopted by Euripides, and remained the limit scarcely ever exceeded in any Greek drama, at least in tragedy. In comedy a somewhat greater license was taken; and though Cratinus kept to the regular three performers, Aristophanes sometimes, and notably in the Thesmophoriazusae, employed a larger number.
Some real or apparent exceptions to this rule in tragedy have been keenly discussed, and demand a short notice. For instance, the Prometheus is a piece for two actors, yet in the opening scene there are four persons upon the stage--Prometheus, Hephaestus, and the allegorical Kratos and Bia. But Bia does not speak, and mute actors were unquestionably not reckoned; while Prometheus himself, there can be no doubt, was represented by a gigantic lay figure, "so contrived that an actor standing behind the pictorial mountain could speak through the mask. No protagonist could have been expected to submit to the restraint of such an attitude throughout the whole of the play, to say nothing of the catastrophe at the end, when the rocks fall asunder, and Prometheus is dashed down into Tartarus" (Donaldson, Theatre of the Greeks, 7th ed. p. 286). In the Choephori Aeschylus had three actors, but in 900 foll. a fourth seems required, where Pylades, who has been present most of the time as a mute actor, begins to speak. The notion of the Scholiast that the oiketes, who has only just quitted the stage, reappears as Pylades, is rejected by A. Muller on the ground that the actor has not had time to change his dress. It may be remarked, however, that the Greek tragic actor, in order to assume another character, had only to change an upper garment, a mask, and perhaps a wig. There were none of the minute toilet accessories of the modern "make-up," and the operation may have been got through with much greater rapidity. Once more, in the Oedipus at Colonus, a fourth actor must be assumed unless the part of Theseus is divided among all three performers. The former alternative is supported by C. O. Muller (Diss. on Eumen. p. 127) and A. Muller (p. 175, n. 4); the latter by K. F. Hermann (De Distributione Personarum inter Histriones in Tragoediis Graecis, Marburg, 1840, p. 42) and Donaldson, who observes that "the mask and the uniformity of tragic declamation would make it as easy for two actors to represent one part as for one actor to sustain several characters". The terms paraskenion and parachoregema here come in for explanation. The usual meaning of parachoregema is of course a subordinate chorus or heteros choros; but the statement that the word was also applied to the part taken by a fourth actor rests only on the authority of Pollux (iv. 109, 110), where there is almost certainly some confusion in the text. It is more likely that a supernumerary who spoke a few words only, such as the children in the Medea, or the above cases of a fourth actor being required, was called paraskenion.
The three regular actors were distinguished by the technical names of protagonistes, deuteragonistes, and tritagonistes, indicating the more or less prominent part each had to play in the drama. Certain conventional means were also devised, by which the spectators, as soon as an actor appeared on the stage, were enabled to judge which part he was going to perform; thus the protagonist regularly came from a door in the centre, the deuteragonist from one on the right, and the tritagonist from a door on the left-hand side ( Poll.iv. 124). The protagonist naturally undertook the character in which the interest of the piece was intended to centre; not always the title-role, unless it were that of the real hero or heroine. It is true that, in six out of the seven extant plays of Sophocles, the title-role is also the leading part; but in the Cresphontes and Oenomaus of Euripides the titlerole was only a third-class part, and as such was taken by Aeschines ( De Cor. p. 288. 180). The conjecture is also unfounded that the protagonist was always the principal messenger (angelos), or again that the narrative of a death (e. g. of Hippolytus or Pentheus) was necessarily assigned to the actor of the dead man's part (K. F. Hermann, op. cit. p. 33). It is an ingenious but rather fanciful notion of K. O. Muller's (Griech. Lit. ii. 57) that the deuteragonist regularly took sympathetic parts as a friend of the hero or heroine, whereas the tritagonist was generally "an instigator who was the cause of the sufferings of the protagonist, while he himself was the least capable of depth of feeling or sympathy;" in popular language, that he was the "villain of the piece." This is supported by the recorded fact that Creon in the Antigone was a tritagonist's part, and by an arrangement of the characters in the Orestean trilogy of Aeschylus which gives the part of Clytaemnestra throughout to the tritagonist. It is a fact not without significance that the thirty-two extant tragedies contain no "hero" who is also a "villain," like Macbeth or Richard the Third; but the titles of lost plays show an Ixion of Aeschylus, an Acrisius and an Atreus of Sophocles; and it would seem that the villainhero, though rare, was not altogether unknown. It is safer to say with Donaldson that the second and third performers "seem to have divided the other characters between them, less according to any fixed rule than in obedience to the directions of the poet, who was guided by the exigencies of his play." As on the modern stage, parts were written for particular actors; a proof that the author, notwithstanding the many conventional restrictions imposed by the sacred character of the Attic drama, had some influence over the choice of his actors.
The number of supernumeraries was unlimited. They were usually silent, but sometimes spoke a few words, especially when a fourth interlocutor was required as above; in which case the speaker was occasionally placed behind the scenes, or sheltered from view by the chorus, that the limit of three actors might not be obtrusively violated. Persons of rank and dignity always came upon the stage suitably attended, just as no Athenian lady or gentleman in real life went out without at least one slave: the body-guards of royal personages were a conspicuous feature, so that doruphoros or doruphorema became an equivalent to kophon prosopon, and in one or two instances (the opening scene of the Oedipus Tyrannus and probably that of the Acharnians) we have a regular "stage-mob" of citizens like those in Julius Caesar and Wilhelm Tell.
The acting of female characters by men was greatly assisted by the use of masks; there was no need to assign such parts to beardless youths, as in England in the Shakespearian times. In early days the dramatic poets themselves acted in their own plays, and doubtless as protagonists. Of Aeschylus it is further recorded that he was his own ballet-master, and trained his choruses to dance without the aid of a professional orchestodidaskalos ( Ath.i. 21 e). Sophocles appeared only twice on the stage; as Thamyris in the play of that name, accompanying a song on the cithara, and as Nausicaa playing at ball, in the Pluntriai: he then gave up acting on account of the weak ness of his voice. After his time it became exceptional for the poet to be also an actor. Aeschylus, who seems to have been usually protagonist in his own plays, employed Cleander as his deuteragonist, and subsequently (after the introduction of a third actor) Mynniscus as tritagonist (Vit. Aesch. p. 3, l. 75 Dind.). Cleidemides and Tlepolemus were similarly associated with Sophocles, and Cephisophon with Euripides. Actors sometimes received enormous salaries, occasionally as much as a talent ($1180) for two or even one day's performance ( Gell.xi. 9. 2).
No social stigma attached to the actor's calling (Corn. Nep. Praef.5). Distinguished Athenian citizens appeared on the stage as amateurs, and the role of a tritagonistes, notwithstanding the scurrilous and exaggerated invectives of Demosthenes, did not detract from Aeschines' position as a soldier and orator. Bad actors, however, to whatever station in life they belonged, were not, on that account, spared; displeasure was shown by whistling or hissing (surittein, Demosth. De Cor. p. 315. 265); another word is thorubein, probably denoting uproar against the author rather than the actor. For the throwing of fruit or nuts in theatres, and sometimes even of stones, cf. [Andoc. ] c. Alcib. 20; Demosth. De Cor. p. 314. 262. On the other hand, the practice of encoring (authis) is inferred from Symp.9. 4.
At a later time, when Greece had lost her independence, we find regular troops of actors, who were either stationary in particular towns of Greece, or wandered from place to place, and engaged themselves wherever they found it most profitable. They formed regular companies or guilds (sunodoi) with their own internal organization, with their common officers, property, and sacra. There are a number of inscriptions belonging to such companies. They can be traced at Athens, Thebes, Argos, Teos, Cyprus, and Rhegium. But these actors are generally spoken of in very contemptuous terms; they were perhaps in some cases slaves or freedmen, and their pay was sometimes as low as seven drachmas ($1.25) for a performance (Lucian, Icaromen. 29). The language of Lucian must, however, be received with caution. He has evidently confused the old Greek estimate of the profession with the much lower Roman one of his own time; and in one passage ( Apol.5) writes as though Polus and Aristodemus, free Greeks of the highest consideration, had been liable to the ius virgarum in histriones.
The word histriones, by which the Roman actors were called, is said to have been formed from the Etruscan hister, which signified a ludio or dancer (Livy, vii. 2). The origin of scenic representations at Rome has been related under Comoedia. The name histrio thenceforward lost the signification of a dancer, and was now applied to the actors in the drama. Only the Atellanae and exodia were played by freeborn Romans, while the regular drama was left to the histriones, who formed a distinct class of persons.
In the times of Plautus and Terence we find the actors gathered into a company (grex, caterva), under the control of a manager (dominus gregis, also called actor in a technical sense, though actor is of course also a synonym of histrio). It was through the manager that a magistrate who was giving games, of which stage-plays formed a part, engaged the services of a company. Brutus, who was praetor in the year of Caesar's death, tried to regain the popularity he had lost through the murder by giving the Ludi Apollinares with unusual splendour; and he went all the way to Naples to negotiate with actors, who seem to have been Greeks, besides getting his friends to use their interest in his behalf ( Plut. Brut.21). So in imperial times a public singer is said vocem vendere praetoribus ( Juv.vi. 379). The pay (merces) was on as varied a scale as in modern times. In the first century of the Empire an ordinary actor seems to have received five denarii and his food ( Plin. Ep.80. 7); while at an earlier period "stars" like Roscius and Aesopus, the contemporaries and friends of Cicero, made ample fortunes. Cicero tells us that Roscius could have honourably made 6,000,000 sesterces ($240,000) in ten years had he chosen to do so (Pro Rosc. Com. 8. 23); and Pliny gives half a million ($20,000) as his annual earnings. The tradition preserved by Macrobius ( Sat.iii. 14. 11-13) is that Roscius alone received 1000 denarii ($175) for every day's performance; while Aesopus left a fortune of 20,000,000 sesterces ($800,000), acquired solely by his profession. This was afterwards squandered by his son ( Sat.ii. 3 Sat., 239).
It is clear from the words of Livy (vii. 2) that the histriones were not citizens; that they were not contained in the tribes, nor allowed to be enlisted as soldiers in the Roman legions; and that, if any citizen entered the profession of histrio, he, on this account, was excluded from his tribe. The histriones were therefore usually either freedmen, foreigners, or slaves; the latter specially educated for the stage to their master's profit. Even if ingenui, they were legally infames (Edict. Praet. ap. Dig. 3, 2, 1; cf. De Rep. iv. fr. 10 ap. Aug. De Civ. Dei, ii. 13), and socially in low estimation ( Pro Arch. 5. 10; Corn. Nep. Praef.4; Suet. Tib.35). Aesopus seems to have been a freedman of the Claudian gens; but Roscius, the amor et deliciae of Cicero, was certainly ingenuus, and probably of good birth. Sulla gave him the gold ring of equestrian rank. Towards the close of the Republican period, a few men of position and Greek culture raised themselves above the prejudices of their countrymen, and valued the person no less than the genius of great artists. When Caesar forced Laberius, a knight advanced in years, to appear on the stage in his own mimes, he was thought to have exceeded the powers even of a dictator, and his victim took a dignified revenge (Macrob. Sat.ii. 7. 3 foll.). Under the emperors men of equestrian rank often appeared, with or without compulsion ( Suet. Aug.43; Dio Cass. liii. 31; Suet. Tib.35); and this circumstance, together with the increasing influence of Greek manners, tended to improve the social position of the actors. At the very beginning of the reign of Tiberius it had become necessary to check the extravagant compliments paid them ( Tac. Ann.i. 77). Their legal status remained the same as regards infamia and exclusion from office; even provincial honours are denied them in the Lex Iulia Municipalis of B.C. 45, where they are coupled with gladiators (C. I. L. p. 123); thoughinscriptions show that the rule was not always enforced (Orelli, 2625). But the old law was now somewhat modified, by which the Roman magistrates were empowered to coerce the histriones at any time and in any place, and the praetor had the right to scourge them (ius virgarum in histriones). Augustus entirely did away with the ius virgarum, and limited the interference of the magistrates to the time when, and the place where (ludi et scaena), the actors performed ( Suet. Aug.45). But he nevertheless inflicted, of his own authority, very severe punishments upon those actors who, either in their private life or in their conduct on the stage, committed any impropriety. After these regulations the only legal punishments that could be inflicted upon actors for improper conduct seem to have been imprisonment and exile ( Tac. Ann.iv. 14Tac. Ann., xiii. 28).
The competition of the actors for public favour was carried to extraordinary lengths, and stirred up factions like those of the Circus. If not as early as the time of Plautus himself, yet at the time when the existing Plautine prologues were composed (probably about B.C. 150-100), we find partisanship (ambitio) in full operation (Plaut. Poen.prol. 37 foll.). At first palms and inexpensive crowns of gold or silver tinsel were the reward of popularity (Pliny , Pliny H. N.xxi. 6); afterwards, under the Empire, presents of money and rich garments ( Juv.vii. 243 with Schol.). There was a regularly organized and paid claque (the theatrales operae of Tac. Ann.i. 16; cf. Mart.iv. 5Mart., 8); and over and above that the backers (fautores) resorted to actual violence and even bloodshed. Hence Tiberius on one occasion found himself obliged to expel all histriones from Italy ( Tac. Ann.iv. 14); but they were recalled and patronized by his successor. The emperors as a rule tolerated, sometimes encouraged, and occasionally checked the excesses of the stage. We read of the emperor's private companies who performed during dinner-time ( Suet. Aug.74), and were sometimes allowed also to play in the theatres before the people. The practice of giving immoderate sums to actors was restricted by Tiberius ( Tac. Ann.i. 77; Suet. Tib.34); again by M. Aurelius, and by Alexander Severus. Aurelius ordained a maximum payment of five aurei ($25.50) to each actor, and that no editor should exceed the sum of ten aurei ($51); this must mean that there were to be editores in number equal to half the actors, for it cannot be thought that he reduced the actors to two for each performance. The restrictions of the Greek stage as to the number of actors never prevailed upon the Roman.
This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
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