Development Of Greek Drama

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Greek drama first began to emerge during 700 BC, the purpose of these performances was to honour and respect their gods, these dramas were performed at the Greek theatre which actually takes place in Athens the main centre for these theatrical traditions. These festivals were distributed to its various allies in order to achieve and promote a shared identity, common genres of plays that were performed on stage were tragedy plays, comedy plays, and satyr plays which dealt with the mythological subject in a comic manner. What are Greek dramas plays? What roles significantly impacted & influenced the dramas in Greece? What are the roles of Greek dramas for both men and women? And from where did Greek drama originate? When looking at the history behind Athens and the role of the theatre, these questions are frequently asked.

Comedy plays were usually sarcastic and used to mock people or the weakness of another person. Aristophanes was the first comedy writer followed by Menander later writing comedies about ordinary people and making his plays more like sitcoms. Tragedy plays deal with love, loss, pride, abuse of power and disturbed relations between men and gods, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were the three prime playwrights of tragedy. Aristotle argued that, through compassion and terror, tragedy cleansed the heart, purging us of our petty concerns and worries by making us conscious that pain can be noble. He called this’ catharsis’ experience. Satyr dramas are brief plays performed similar to the plays of tragedy in which they mock or make fun of the plight of the protagonists of the tragedy. The satyrs are mythical creatures half-human and half-animal. Not many of these plays have been listed in history and there are few that exist, they are categorized as tragicomic or comedy-dramas by some writers.

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In the worship of the Greek god Dionysus, Greek drama happened in the 6th century BCE. Greek plays were often performed in honour of the god Dionysus but were primarily performed in Athens. They were provided every day for 7 to 8 hours in the Greek month of Elaphebolion 11-13 in March-April. Acropolis plays have been played on the theatre’s round dance floor. This was the Great Dionysia celebration, a god festival, but held only for men. In other parts of Greece festivals for the god Dionysus, there was also festivals for women in Athens, but it was also unique in that dramas were produced. From religious festivals, the theatre became well recognized and there is said to be proof that females partook in festivals where they played the role of a goddess in Minoan culture. “…there is one kind of poetry and tale-telling which works wholly through imitation, as you remarked, tragedy, and comedy, and another which employs the recital of the poet himself, best exemplified, I presume, in dithyramb, and there is again that which employs both, in epic poetry and in many other places.” It was Aristotle who stated the origins of drama.

In Greek dramas, both men and women performed a significant part, however preforming in plays was not so frequent for women. Women’s roles in drama may have been a response to current politics. Women were expected to be obedient and domestic which was why they did not partake in many drama roles. Greek drama may have demonstrated what happened when they were not. There is evidence that, during the 19th century and later, Greek drama may have improved the status of females. When a female became prominent in ancient Greece, it meant that she had to do her job with others, had more expensive clothes, and rich jewellery. Usually these types of females remained in the shade at home and socialized with their friends. Some prominent women had become priests and have performed religious ceremonies. Women were not approved to preform alongside side males since men were the authors of the plays, which is why males only played those roles. Women have been greatly involved in religion so they may have participated completely in the theatre, but they were excluded from the festival where the dramas that have come down to us were performed. Women were selected to play the goddess ‘ role in Minoan culture. This would have been a dramatization and not a drama performance.

Greek drama grew out of religious festivities and traditions, it began small in the beginning but the concept of acting came about to make these religious events more enjoyable and meaningful to individuals. It evolved from religious dancing and singing rituals for the god held in forest glades These rituals became more structured and special theatres were built for their performance. Traditional theatre is a round stage that does not have a back stage. The performers are encircled in all directions by the crowd with no curtains in musicals or vaudeville like traditional stages. It has been said that that this style of theatre originates in Greek theatre. This was to provide the audience with a better view of the performance so that they could see the plays from all angles. It is believed that drama developed in the dithyramb verse from narrative songs, first performed by a single person and later performed by a chorus. At first there was no distinct voice identification of characters but eventually a second voice was introduced and at least part of the sung narrative became dialogue. Greek drama and tragedy have grown over the centuries from a religious ceremony to a formalized organized medium. Three well-known fifth-century Greek tragedy playwrights are Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus, who wrote some of the world’s oldest tragedies at the City Dionysia around 499 B.C. Only a few of the plays of Aeschylus survived, but they include the Persians and the trilogy of Oresteia. Aeschylus is selected to the stage with the introduction of the second actor.

To conclude, Greek drama played a significant part in society as it helped the Greek people to grow nearer to their god Dionysus and gave both men and females the chance to hold these festivities in relation to their god throughout the years. During this span of time, many excellent play authors went up and wrote excellent plays for the individuals to watch. 


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