Although the historic origins the Greek drama space unclear it might be stated it had actually relevance come religion, art and to the love the expression and perceptive storytelling in general. The origins of the chorus in particular may have stemmed out of ancient rites and rituals with facets of song and dance, and most importantly – the gathering of people.

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In stimulate to recognize the duty of the chorus one need to remember the at the origins of Greek drama over there was only one actor; and also even at later days no much more than three actors occupied the stage, every of whom may have played numerous roles. As there was this clear should distract the audience when the actors went off-stage to readjust clothes and also costumes, and also perhaps prepare because that their next role, the role of the chorus may have had an ext to execute with practicality, than with artistic or thoughtful considerations.

Aside native the helpful the chorus would have had plenty of functions in providing a substantial and consistent artistic unit. Firstly, according to a view embraced by numerous scholars, the chorus would administer commentary top top actions and events that were taking place prior to the audience. By law this the chorus would develop a depths and much more meaningful connection in between the characters and the audience. Secondly, the chorus would allow the playwright to develop a type of literary complexity only achievable by a literary maker controlling the atmosphere and also expectations of the audience. Thirdly, the chorus would allow the playwright come prepare the audience because that certain vital moments in the storyline, develop up inert or sluggish down the tempo; he might underline details elements and also downplay others. Such consumption of the choral structure-making features may be it was observed throughout many classic plays but may be more obvious in part than in others.

In Aeschylus’ “Prometheus Bound”, the chorus is written of Oceanids (nymphs native the ocean, the youngsters of the sea god Oceanus and his mam Tethys). Aeschylus changed the duty of the chorus which lugged criticisms indigenous Aristotle who his Poetics argued that “he decreased the prominence of the Chorus” (Aristotle 5), and by more modern writers such as H. D. F. Kitto who in his Greek Tragedy: A Literary examine writes “Aeschylus arranges things differently. He makes the chorus execute what Greek choruses are claimed never come do: to take it a component in the action.” (Kitto 85) nonetheless such rearrangements might have do the chorus more convincing because it might remain top top the stage with Prometheus for the entire play together witness and also commentator. Here the chorus can express that sympathy for the lead character:

“I mourn for thee, Prometheus, minished and brought low, Watering my virgin cheeks through these sad drops, that flow From sorrow"s merganser fount, to fill soft-lidded eyes With pure libations for thy fortune"s obsequies.” (Aeschylus)

In the functions of Nietzsche the chorus take away on a fully new and also profound thoughtful meaning. In his The birth of Tragedy Nietzsche gift a check out of a unique dissonance between what that calls the Apollonian and the Dionysian paradigms, referencing come the dramatic and also choral features of Greek drama respectively. In a metaphysical frame the chorus is the essence of the play and embodies a particular Dionysian awareness which faces the primal realms of the human condition. Nietzsche goes to the extreme of arguing that the “tragic myth have the right to only be interpreted as a symbolic snapshot of Dionysian wisdom by means of Apollonian art.” (Nietzsche 261)

These primal pressures would be in ~ the command the the playwright v the selection of character and composition that the chorus. It can well consist of sea nymphs, as in Prometheus Bound, or 15 Theban elders as in Oedipus Rex, or of any kind of other kind of human being who would represent the unison the people. It might be suggested that the thing that merged the chorus to be their mode of interaction – an ext often than no the chorus would elevate its an interpretation in song. Moreover, and also perhaps partially for handy reasons (for it may have been complicated to see the personalities from afar since of the relatively huge size of the theatre) the chorus would certainly emphasize certain elements the the story through the use of qualities such together masks and also weapons.

The chorus might have distinguished itself by sophisticated use the language or style, varying the voice of reason or the of emotion relying on occasion and the intentionally of the playwright. An ext importantly though, the chorus could have represented the common views of the contemporary society holding up certain moral and cultural standards – lot like the media walk for modern-day people transparent their daily lives

In case of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex the audience might have already been acquainted – and also in many cases probably was - through the outcome of the play. This make the task of engaging the viewer ever much more difficult. For this reason the chorus would develop interest by presenting an alternate or extr viewpoint. That may have actually negotiated sympathies for one or another character, or perhaps depending upon the sophistication that the specific character, it might have even guided the characters through problem situations. This is exemplified by exactly how Oedipus’ (who is all but blind come his fate) and also Teiresias’ conversation is affected by the chorus.

“To united state it sounds together if Teiresias has talked in anger, and, Oedipus, you have done so, too. That’s not what us need. Rather we need to be looking into this: How deserve to we best carry the end the god’s decree?” (Sophocles 485)

Both in the works of Aeschylus and Sophocles and also in old Greek drama in general, the function of the chorus may have been important due to the fact that of structural and practical reasons. In ~ the exact same one might praise generally as one enhancer and amplifier that impression, and also sometimes the voice of a moderator, or the ethical voice the the people. Certainly it also had a similar function to music in modern-day drama underlining necessary events and also downplaying the less necessary ones. Probably most generally though, the chorus would offer the ancient playwright a multifunctional literary maker for the production of an award-winning beat on the Dionysian festival.


Aeschylus. The television series of Aeschylus. New York: forget Books, 2007.

Aristotle. Poetics. New York: forgotten Books, 2007.

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Kitto, H. D. F. Greek Tragedy: A literary Study. Brand-new York: Routledge Press, 1990.