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CHORE´GUS (χορηγός).


The choregia (χορηγία) was one of the ordinary services (ἐγκύκλιοι λειτουργίαι) at Athens, and consisted in providing a properly-trained chorus for one of the festivals. It was a very heavy burden, involving great trouble and expense; but during the flourishing period of Greek freedom this was counterbalanced by the emulation which subsisted among the different choregi and the honour it brought them from their fellow-citizens.

Originally, there was a choregus elected by each tribe (Introd. to Dem. Midias, p. 510, line 8). The choregi used to be appointed eleven months before the festival. The ἐπιμεληταὶ of each tribe looked out for the fitting persons to fulfil the duty of choregi, and probably proposed them (προὐβάλλοντο οἱ χορηγοί, Dem. Mid. 519.13; cf. Arg, p. 510). Usually the most well-to-do were appointed choregi in turn, but sometimes public-spirited individuals voluntarily undertook the duty even when not in their turn: e. g. Demosthenes (l.c.). On the choregi being proposed, the archon used to allot them (χορὸν διδόναι) to as many as he thought deserving from among the poets who applied to him for a chorus (χορὸν αἰτεῖν). Then there was a drawing of lots among the choregi (Antiph. de Chor. § 11) as to who should get first choice of the διδάσκαλοι. The duty of the διδάσκαλος (who was sometimes the poet, and then he had a ὑποδιδάσκαλος: see Photius, s. v.) was with the help of musicians--generally flute-players, sometimes harpists--to teach (διδάσκειν, συγκροτεῖν) the choristers the words, songs, and dances. In an emergency we find a single individual taking the place of διδάσκαλος and αὐλητής, e. g. Telephanes (Dem. Mid. 520.17). The relative importance of the functions of the διδάσκαλος and the αὐλητὴς in course of time came to be reversed, the musical element becoming more and more important. The lot now decided who should have the first choice of flute-players (Dem. Mid. 519.13), and the flute-player came to be mentioned in the διδασκαλίαι (see below).

The next duty of the choregus was to collect the chorus. The members of the chorus had to be citizens. At the Lenaea metics were allowed to act as choristers and even as choregi (Schol. on Aristoph. Pl. 953). But at all other festivals only citizens could serve under penalty of 1000 drachmae for each foreign chorister (Plut. Phoc. 30). The collecting (συλλέγειν) of the chorus was effected by means of officers of the tribe called χορολέκται. This was hard in the case of boys, as parents did not like to let their children incur the moral risks of the theatre; and that these were not insignificant is evident from the law of Solon forbidding any one younger than forty years to form a chorus of boys (Aeschin. Tim. 33.12). Fines and confiscations of goods, accordingly, had often to be employed (Antiphon, de Chor. § 11). Meanwhile the choregus had to provide a place for training the chorus (διδασκαλεῖον, χορηγεῖον, Poll. 4.106), which was often in his own house (Antiphon, l, c.), but in some demes we find public buildings for the purpose (cf. Hesych. Μελιτέων ολ̓̂κος).

In the flourishing times of Athens the greatest emulation existed among the rival choregi: some spent their whole patrimony in the service (Dem. Mid. 534.61). And indeed no wonder: for it must have been a proud moment when the choregus, leading his own chorus (cf. Ath. 633a) and in splendid array, was crowned victor before his assembled fellow-countrymen (Dem. Mid. 532.55). The prize was a bronze tripod, which became the property of the tribe (Dem. Mid. 516.5). Accordingly, owing to the [p. 1.418]emulation, the very strictest observance of the laws relating to the festivals was required. Among these laws there was one that, if a stranger was brought in as a chorister, a rival choregus might take him by the hand and lead him out (Andoc. in Alcib. § 20; cf. Dem. Mid. 534.60), but not interrupt him while performing. In the heat of competition, too, there were frequent violations of law, and special enactments for the laying of plaints with regard to misdeeds at the festivals (Dem. Mid. 517.8; 562.147). The crime of assault of a choregus during the festival appears to have been ὕβρις, though Demosthenes all through his speech against Midias tries to make out that, inasmuch as the festival was a religious ceremony, the offence he as choregus had sustained should be considered ἀσέβεια <*> (Arg. p. 510; cf. 532.55).

No one was liable for the choregia nor for any of the regular services unless he had a property of at least three talents (Isaeus, de Pyrrh. hered. § 80; Dem. Aphob. 1.833.64): for the expenses that fell upon the choregus were great. The state certainly defrayed part of them (Introd. to Mid. p. 510), and the lessee of the theatre who received the entrance money must have supplied a considerable sum towards the outlay (Boeckh, Staatshaushaltung der Athener, 1.540, ed. 1886). But still much remained for the choregus; principally the expenses which attached to the chorus directly. For he had not merely to train the chorus or have it trained, but he had also to feed (Introd. to Mid. l.c.) them during the time of training, and right good cheer used to be provided (Plut. de glor. Athen. 100.6). At Corcyra we find the members given an equivalent in money, σιτηρέσια (C. L G. 1845, line 23). The choregi used at times to give drugs to the choristers to improve their voice; and this proved fatal in one case (see the whole speech of Antiphon, de Choreuta). They had to provide the dresses (Aristot. Eth. Nic. 4.2, 20; Ath. 103f), which were often most expensive--e. g. Demosthenes once (Mid. 520.16) had golden crowns for his chorus and a gold-embroidered robe for himself--and also at times the accessories of the play; e. g. in Aristoph. Peace 1023, the animal for sacrifice. Besides, too, they appear to have had to pay the choristers (Xen. Resp. Ath. 1.13). An additional chorus (παραχορήγημα) had sometimes to be provided. Each choregus provided the chorus for a whole tetralogy; but whether the actual choristers were the same in all four plays is uncertain (see Hermann-Müller, Büahnenalterthümer, p. 333). The choregus had not to pay the actors (Boeckh, op. cit. p. 542). Interesting statistics as to the expenses of the different kinds of choruses are to be found in Lysias, Ἀπολογία δωροδοκίας, § 2 fol.--a passage which should be read with the sober criticism of Boeckh, pp. 542-5. The speaker spent on a tragic chorus 30 minae; on a chorus of men at the Thargelia, 2000 drachmas; on a Pyrrhic chorus of Ephebi at the Panathenaea, 800 drachmas; on a chorus of men at the Dionysia and on the dedication of the tripod, 5000 drachmas; on a cyclic chorus at the lesser Panathenaea, 300 drachmas; on a chorus of boys, 15 minae; on a comic chorus with dedication of the dress, 16 minae; on a chorus of youthful pyrrhicists, 7 minae. Thus we see that a comic chorus cost much less than a tragic one, just as an ordinary chorus of men cost less than a chorus of flute-players (Dem. Mid. 565.156). The dedication of the tripod, too, seems to have considerably increased the expenditure, as may be seen by comparing 30 minae (= 3000 drachmas) with 5000. The reason was that the prize tripod (τρίπους χορηγικός) was generally dedicated to Dionysus, either on the top of a pillar (see Baumeister, Denkmäler, fig. 422) or on the top of a round, open, temple-like structure. A fine example of such a structure is the celebrated Monument of Lysicrates and the Thrasyllus monument. From the inscriptions engraved on the architraves of these temples the didascaliae were mainly compiled (Wordsworth, Athens and Attica, p. 153). A whole street lined with such shrines to hold dedicated tripods, and hence called Τρίποδες, was on the east side of the Acropolis (Paus. 1.20, 1), and was a fashionable promenade in the time of Demetrius of Phalerum (Ath. 542). For a full account of the Street of Tripods, see Baumeister, Denkm. s. v. ; Athen. pp. 188-9.

The expense, accordingly, of the choregia was great. So when the state became poor, single private individuals became unable to bear the burden, and the decline of public spirit so noticeable in the Demosthenic age showed them unwilling. Thus the Aeolosicon, of Aristophanes and the Odysseus of Cratinus had no choral odes, nor parabases, but this latter for another reason. (see Platonius in the Tauchnitz Aristophanes, vol. i. pp. 7, 8); and neither has the Plutus. The first step to remedy this state of things was the συγχορηγορία: i. e. two tribes or two individuals uniting to supply a chorus. This took place first in the archonship of Callias, 406 B.C. (Schol. on Ar. Ran. 404). The first documentary evidence of the joint choregia that we have is the inscription found on the Temple of the Winds at Athens (Köhler in Hermes, 2.23). See also Antiphon, de Chor. § 11. Later in the time of Demetrius of Phalerum (316-307 B.C.) the state undertook the choregia, appointed each year an ἀγωνοθέτης to produce all the choruses for the different festivals, and bore all the expense.

The inscriptions on the monuments varied. In the fifth cent. B.C. the name of the tribe comes first, that of the choregus second, and of the trainer third: e.g. C. I. G. 212, Οἰνηὶς ἐνίκα παίδων (sc. χορῷ), Εὐρυμένης Μελετῶνος ἐχορήγει, Νικόστρατος ἐδίδασκε (cf. Plut. Arist. 100.1.2). In the fourth cent. the choregus or choregi come first, the tribe is frequently omitted, and the flute-player occasionally mentioned and before the trainer (see Köhler, l.c.). Of the choregia of the state we have the following:--C. I. G. 225, δή̀μος ἐχορήγει, Πυθάρατος ἦρχεν (271 B.C.) Ἀγωνοθέτης Θρασυκλῆς Θρασύλλου Δεκελεεύς, Ἱπποθωντὶς παίδων ἐνίκα Πέων Πηβαῖος ηὔλει Πρόνομος Θηβαῖος ἐδίδασκεν. Note the non-Athenian trainers. For other important inscriptions of the choregia, see Köhler in Mittheilungen des arch. Instit. in Athen, vol. iii.

The choregia was not confined to Athens; it is found at Siphnos (Isocrat. Aegin. 17), Ceos (C. I G. 2363), Aegina (Hdt. 5.83), Mytilene (Antiphon, de caede Herod. 77), Thebes (Plut. Arist. 1). At Lasos in Caria (Lebas, Inscr. iii. [p. 1.419]252-299) a voluntary choregus sometimes undertook the whole expense; but more usually each citizen paid a subscription of 200 drachmas and each metic 100 towards the expenses of the festival. This does not seem to have been formally a tax, but a subscription fixed by custom and enforced by public opinion.

For the choregia generally, see Boeckh, Die Staatshaushaltung der Athener, 1.539-548, ed. Fränkel; Krebs in Saglio's Dict. des Antiquités, s.v.; Bernard Arnold in Baumeister's Denkmäler, s. v. Hermann-Müller, Die griechischen Bühnenalterthümer, esp. § 22.

2. Roman

The choragus among the Romans (Plaut. Pers. 1.3, 79; Trin. 4.2, 16) was a lender of costumes and properties (cf. Festus, p. 52, choragium instrumentumum; scaenic and Plaut. Capt. Prol. 61); and to him the aediles used to give a contract for supplying the necessary accessories for a play. In Plaut. Curc. 4.1, 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 “get up” of the actors. Under Gordian we find the name had vanished. Apuleius (Apol. 1.13) had spoken of the choragium thymelicum; but the functionary called logista thymelae now took the place of the proc. summi choragii. In the fourth century, at Rome the praef. urbis, in the East the praef. praet., 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. On the whole point see especially Hirschfeld, Verwaltungsge-schichte, 1.182-186.


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