Greek Plays Essay Research Paper What role

Greek Plays Essay, Research Paper

What role does the chorus play in the play?

In ancient Greek plays, the role of the chorus was to sing lyrical passages. The lyrical passages were set up

by the writer and the chorus would then perform dance movements to compliment those lyrics. In today’s day and

age, it is the cast members in many musicals who depict the role as the chorus. However, in some cases, the chorus

also helps assist the modern reader in interpreting ancient terminology used during that period.

I believe that the chorus held a very important role in the play Antigone, by Sophocles. The loyal and

religious citizens of Thebes, who are very devoted to their state, represent the chorus. These citizens also have

excellent moral values portrayed in them. The author uses the chorus as a way to illustrate the reaction that the public

has to the events that occur throughout the play. It (The chorus) can be considered the narrator of the story; it “filled in

the gaps” so to speak. They also help the readers (or viewers considering ancient Greek times) to better comprehend

the entire concept of the play, as well as allowing the readers or the viewers to foresee the imminent tale. In the usual

course of events, the chorus is used to apply a setting, or a mood in the play. For example on page 1281, the chorus

describes the entrance of Isemes as she comes in as, “weeping a sister’s tears, …her face flushed, her cheeks

streaming….” The author sensibly chooses for the chorus to narrate this event because, this very minute detail

provides the audience to picture the state that the character is in. Similarly, on page 1283, the chorus describes the

power of Zeus as being the foremost, unbeatable power. This is quoted in the text as, “power that neither sleep, the

all –ensnaring no, nor the tireless months of heaven can ever overmaster- young through all time, mighty lord of


I feel that the chorus adds flavor to the play. In other words, it is used as a seasoning in the dish (play). No

matter how good the chef (writer) is, without the seasoning (chorus), he is unable to provide that special flavor, that

zest (interest), that the meal (play) needs in order to add that complimenting appeal in to his (writers) work. In the

same notion, the chorus is added to help spice up the play, and not leave the audience wondering what the writer was

trying to imply through his work. Sophocles and other dramatists use “the chorus” as a notable element to portray an

image, or an idea that they base their work on. In Antigone, Sophocles uses the chorus to show the chief concerns of

the people of Thebes. As a matter of fact, all the tragic events occurring throughout the play are seen through the

eyes of the chorus.

When learning about history, we hear about the changes in form or the revision of style in an entity over a

specific period of time. We realize that given an interval of a few years or more, almost everything from man to

machine advances, and becomes more improved. Similarly in literature, the style or format evolves to adjust to the

change in time. Over the years, the art of drama in literature has also taken a turn, and has been reconstructed for the

better. Drama has also taken many twists and turns in order to stay up to date with the developing world. For

instance, in the early fourteen hundreds, drama became a popular source of entertainment. In order to amuse the

people, the play used the chorus as a source to keep the audience tuned in and interested. In the earlier days, the

seating arrangements were designed to place the wealthy, and royalties along the back of the theater. It is ironic how

today people pay a whole lot of money for the same seats, which were considered bad or limited to those who did not

earn a lot of money. A similar notion applies to the various regions that make up the art of drama. In order to contrast

the use of certain elements in a given genre, specifically drama or playwright, the importance of that element is

considerably essential for the success of a play. In ancient Greek plays, the dramatists used an element referred to

as “the chorus” to enhance the level of entertainment in their work, just as in today’s plays and dramas, the writer

uses talented cast members.

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