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1. Athenian

In Athens the production of plays was a State affair, not a private undertaking. It formed a great part of the religious festival of the Dionysia, in which the drama took its rise (see Dionysia); and it was only at the Greater Dionysia that pieces could be performed during the author's lifetime. The performances lasted three days and took the form of musical contests, the competitors being three tragic poets, with their tetralogies, and five comic poets, with one piece each. The authority who superintended the whole was the archon, to whom the poets had to bring their plays for reading and apply for a chorus. If the pieces were accepted and the chorus granted, the citizens who were liable for the choregia undertook at their own cost to practise and furnish for them one chorus each. (See Liturgia.) The poets whose plays were accepted received a reward from the State. The State also supplied the regular number of actors, and made provision for the maintenance of order during the performances. At the end of the performance a certain number of persons (usually five) were chosen by lot from a committee (ἀγωνοθέται) nominated by the Senate to award the prizes, and bound by solemn oath to give their judgment on the plays, the choregi, and the actors. The poet who won the first prize was presented with a crown in the presence of the assembled multitude—the highest distinction that could be conferred on a dramatic author at Athens. The victorious choregus also received a crown, with the permission to dedicate a votive offering to Dionysus. This was generally a tripod, which was set up either in the theatre or in the temple of the deity or in the Street of Tripods, so named from this custom, an inscription being put on it recording the event, as in that of Panofka, Musée Blacas, pl. I. (British Museum): Ακαμαντὶς ἐνίκα φυλή: Γλαύκων καλός. The actors in the successful play received prizes of money, besides the usual honoraria.

From the time of Sophocles the actors in a play were three in number. They had to represent all the parts, those of women included. This involved changing their costume several times during the performance. The three actors were distinguished as protagonistes, deuteragonistes, and tritagonistes, according to the importance of their parts. If the piece required a fourth actor, which was seldom the case, the choregus had to provide one. The choregus had also to see to the position and equipment of the mute actors.

In earlier times it is possible that the persons engaged in the representation did not make a business of their art, but performed gratuitously, as the poets down to the time of Sophocles appeared upon the stage. But the dramatic art gradually became a profession requiring careful preparation, and winning general respect for its members as artists. The chief requirements for the profession were distinctness and correctness of pronunciation, especially in declamatory passages, and an unusual power of memory, as there was no prompter in a Greek theatre. An actor had also to be thoroughly trained in singing, melodramatic action, dancing, and play of gesture. The latter was especially necessary, as the use of masks precluded any facial expression. The actors were according to strict rule assigned to the poets by lot; yet a poet generally had his special protagonist, on whose peculiar gifts he kept his eye in writing the dramatic pieces.

The Athenian tragedies began to be known all over the Hellenic world as early as the time of Aeschylus. The first city outside of Attica that had a theatre was Syracuse, where Aeschylus brought out some of his own plays. Scenic contests soon began to form part of the religious festivals in various Greek cities, and were celebrated in honour of other deities besides Dionysus. It was a habit of Alexander the Great to celebrate almost every considerable event with dramatic exhibitions, and after him this became the regular custom. A considerable increase in the number of actors was one consequence of the new demand. The actors called themselves artists of Dionysus, and in the larger cities they formed permanent societies (σύνοδοι) with special privileges, including exemption from military service and security in person and property. These companies had a regular organization, presided over by a priest of their patron-god Dionysus, annually elected from among their members. A treasurer and officers completed the staff. At the time of the festivals the societies sent out their members in groups of three actors, with a manager and a flute-player, to the different cities. This business was especially lively in Ionia and on the Euxine, the societies of Teos being the most distinguished. The same arrangement was adopted in Italy, and continued to exist under the Roman Empire.

The universal employment of masks was a remarkable peculiarity of costume. (See Persona.) It naturally excluded all play of feature, but the masks corresponded to the general types of character, as well as to the special types indicated by the requirements of the play. Certain conventionalities

Masking-room of a Greek Theatre.

were observed in the colour of the hair. Goddesses and young persons had light hair; gods and persons of riper age, dark brown; aged persons, white; and the deities of the lower world, black. The height of the masks and top-knots varied with the age of the actors and the parts they took. Lucian ridicules the “chest-paddings and stomach-paddings” of the tragic actors (De Salt. 27). Their stature was considerably heightened in tragedies by the high boot (see Cothurnus), and the defects in proportion corrected by padding and the use of a kind of gloves. The conventionalities of costume, probably as fixed by

1. Mask of Perseus with Cap of Darkness. 2. Pompeian Mask.

Aeschylus, maintained themselves as long as Greek tragedies were performed at all. Men and women of high rank wore on the stage a variegated or richly embroidered long-sleeved χιτών, reaching to the feet, and fastened with a girdle as high as the breast. The upper garment, whether ἱμάτιον or χλαμύς, was long and splendid, and often embroidered with gold. Kings and queens had a purple train and a white ἱμάτιον with a purple border; soothsayers, a netted upper garment reaching to the feet. Persons in misfortune, especially fugitives, appeared in soiled garments of gray, green, or blue; black was the symbol of mourning.

Comedy Scene. (Painting from Pompeii.)

Soothsayers always wore a woollen garment of network; shepherds, a short leathern tunic; while each of the gods had some distinguishing mark, as the bow for Apollo, the caduceus for Hermes, the aegis for Athené. So with the well-known heroes: Heracles bore a club; Perseus, the cap of darkness. Kings wore a crown, and carried a sceptre. Warriors appeared in complete armour. Old men bore a staff with a curved handle, introduced by Sophocles. Messengers who brought good news were crowned with olive or laurel. Myrtle crowns denoted festivity. Foreigners wore some one special badge, as a Persian turban for Darius (Aesch. Pers. 661). From the time of Euripides, heroes in misfortune (e. g. Telephus and Philoctetes) were sometimes dressed in rags.

In the Satyric Drama the costumes of the heroic characters resembled in all essentials what they wore in the tragedies, although, to suit the greater liveliness of the action, the χιτών was shorter and the boot lower. In the Old Comedy the costumes were taken as nearly as possible from actual life, but in the Middle and New Comedy they were conventional. The men wore a white coat; youths, a purple one; slaves, a motley, with mantle to match; cooks, an unbleached double mantle; peasants, a fur or shaggy coat, with wallet and staff; panders, a coloured coat and motley overgarment. Old women appeared in sky-blue or dark yellow; priestesses and maidens, in white; courtesans, in motley colours, and so on. Red hair marked a roguish slave; beards were not given to youths or old men. The eyebrows were strongly marked and highly characteristic. When drawn up, they denoted pride or impudence. A touchy old man had one eyebrow drawn up and one down. The members of the chorus were masked and dressed in a costume corresponding to the part assigned them by the poet. (On their dress in the Satyric Drama, see Satyric Drama.) The chorus of the comedy caricatured the ordinary dress of the tragic chorus. Sometimes they represented animals, as in the Frogs and Birds of Aristophanes. In the Frogs they wore tight dresses of frog-colour, and masks with a mouth wide open; in the Birds, large beaks, bunches of feathers, combs, and so on, to imitate particular birds.

2. Roman

Dramatic performances in Rome, as in Greece, formed a part of the usual public festivals, whether exceptional or ordinary, and were set on foot by the aediles and praetors. (See Ludi.) A private individual, however, if he were giving a festival or celebrating a funeral, would have theatrical representations on his own account. The giver of the festival hired a troupe of players (grex), the director of which (dominus gregis) bought a play from a poet at his own risk. If the piece was a failure the manager received no compensation. But after its performance the piece became his property, to be used at future representations for his own profit. In the time of Cicero, when it was fashionable to revive the works of older masters, the selection of suitable pieces was generally left to the director. The Romans did not, like the Greeks, limit the number of actors to three, but varied it according to the requirements of the play. Women's parts were originally played by men, as in Greece. Women first appeared in mimes, and not till very late times in comedies. The actors were usually freedmen or slaves, whom their masters sent out to be educated, and then hired them out to the directors of the theatres. The profession was technically branded with infamia, nor was its legal position ever essentially altered. The social standing of actors was, however, improved through the influence of Greek education; and gifted artists like the comedian Roscius, and Aesopus, the tragedian, in Cicero's time, enjoyed the friendship of the best men in Rome. The instance of these two men may show what profits could be made by a good actor. Roscius received, for every day that he played, $175, and made an annual income of some $21,000. Aesopus, in spite of his great extravagance, left $852,500 at his death. Besides the regular honoraria, actors, if thought to deserve it, received other and voluntary presents from the giver of the performance. These often took the form of finely wrought crowns of silver or gold work. Masks were not worn until Roscius made their use general. Before his time actors had recourse to false hair of different colours and paint for the face. Young men wore black wigs; slaves, red ones; old men, white ones. The costume in general was modelled on that of actual life, Greek or Roman, but parasites were conventionally represented in black or gray (Pollux, iv. 148). As early as the later years of the Republic, a great increase took place in the splendour of the costumes and the general magnificence of the performance. In tragedy, particularly, a new effect was attained by massing the actors in great numbers on the stage.

Bibliography.—For the historical development of the drama, see Chorus; Comoedia; Mimus; Satira; Thespis; Tragoedia. For the theatre and the setting of plays, see Theatrum. For the actors, see Histrio. For theatrical costumes, see Chlamys; Himation; Persona; Tunica. For the great dramatic writers of Greece, see Aeschylus; Aristophanes; Cratinus; Eupolis; EuRipides; Sophocles. For the great Roman writers, see Ennius; Livius (Andronicus); Plautus; Seneca; Terentius. Valuable works on the subject of the ancient drama are the following: Witzschell, The Athenian Stage (Eng. tr. London, 1850); Walford, Handbook of the Greek Drama (London, 1856); Donaldson, The Theatre of the Greeks (8th ed. London, 1875); Bergk, Griech. Literaturgeschichte, vol. iii. (Berlin, 1884); Bernhardy, Grundriss d. griech. Litteratur, vol. ii. pt. ii. (Halle, 1880); Schneider, Das Attische Theaterwesen (Weimar, 1835); Klein, Geschichte des Dramas, vols. i.-iii. (Leipzig, 1866); Haigh, The Attic Theatre (Oxford, 1889).

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