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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