The word χορὸς
in Greek signifies both a
place for dancing (Hom. Od. 8.260
) and the collection of dancers,
but is more especially confined to the latter. In early times we find
harvest festivals and weddings (Hes. Scut.
celebrated with bands of dancers (Hom. Il.
). There is a detailed picture of young men and maidens
dancing on the shield of Achilles (Il.
ff.). Another kind of chorus mentioned in the Iliad is the
paean the Greeks sang as they marched to the ships after the death of
Hector (Il. 22.391
). It is to be
remarked that in early times the song and the dance were assigned to
But it is especially in the service of the gods, and most of all in that
of Apollo and Dionysus (cf. Dem. Mid.
p. 530.51), that
bands of dancers appear prominently. In religious ceremonies, poetry,
music, and dancing were all united; and the strong impulse of the Greeks
to give expression to their feelings led to the dance being, as all
artistic dancing ought to be, of a more or less imitative nature.
“It is the imitation of words by gestures (σχήμασιν
) which has developed the whole
art of dancing,” says Plato (Legg.
cf. Ath. 1.15
). There were dances of the
Curetes in Crete in honour of Zeus (Hes. Fragm.
Didot), and in very early times dances in the worship of Apollo at Delos
(Hom. Hymn. Apoll. Del.
249); but dance and song were
first fully developed by the Apolline religion of Delphi, which was the
guiding spirit and good genius of Dorian life. And the chorus was very
suitable to the Doric character, according to which everything was
public and collective, and which so strenuously demanded subordination
of the one to the whole. But the choruses of the Dorians, performed to
the music of the cithara, were most of them stately and measured,
partaking much of the nature of gymnastic and military exercises (cf.
) [GYMNOPAEDIA, PYRRHICA]; though the hyporchema, introduced into
Sparta from Crete by Thaletas, was a spirited song and dance, performed
to the music of the flute as well as of the cithara. [HYPORCHEMA
] The Doric
chorus was quadrangular, and analogies are found between it and the
divisions of infantry (Müller, Dor.
3.12, 10). There were choruses of boys, men, and old men
at the different Spartan festivals (Plut. Lyc.
); and the matrons and maidens danced likewise (ib. 14);
choruses of youths and maidens combined being called ὅρμοι
§ 12). We must not fail, however, to
remember, as Grote (chap. 29) warns us, that the term
“dance” is to be taken in a wide sense for “every
variety of rhythmical accentuated conspiring movements or
gesticulations or postures of the body, from the slowest to the
quickest.” For Sparta the Doric choral style was fixed by
Alcman, and remained unaltered during three centuries. Further it is to
be noticed that as the chorus was much developed at the same time in
Argos, Sicyon, and other parts of Peloponnesus, the Doric dialect came
to be regarded as the artistic dialect for choral song (cf. Curtius,
Hist. of Greece,
2.83, Eng. trans.), and was used by
all choral writers, whether Aeolian or Ionian, being retained in the
language of the chorus even in Attic tragedy.
But in the Apolline religion beside Apollo stood Dionysus, the god of the
peasantry, to whom the dithyramb was sung by the votary “when
all-ablaze in soul with wine's thunder” (οἴνῳ συγκεραυνωθεὶς φρένας
Archilochus says (Fragm.
72, ed. Bergk). Originally the
dithyramb was the spontaneous song, telling the tale of Dionysus and his
fortunes, which the chorus, which represented itself as Satyrs and
others of his faithful attendants, guided by its leader (ἔξαρχος
), sang to the music of the flute,
as it danced the while round the altar of the god. [DITHYRAMBUS
] The Satyrs
were half goats (τράγοι
), their song
was the “goat-song” (τραγῳδία
); and they were originally the sole performers in
what afterwards became the elaborate tragedy. But there was another sort
of chorus belonging to the old phallus cult which, [p. 1.420]
under the guidance of its leader, sang phallic songs and
danced in revel through the roads, with faces smeared with wine-lees, in
the worship of Dionysus, “the jolly god,” the friend of
love and wine. This was the wild song of the revel (κωμῳδία
), and the origin of Greek comedy.
Thus the chorus was the foundation of the two main kinds of Greek drama
(Aristot. Poet. iv.
14). But as the word
“chorus” in connexion with the ancient Greeks most
naturally suggests the chorus in the developed forms of the drama, it is
to the antiquities of the chorus in this sense that we must confine the
present article, referring the reader for information on the dithyramb
to the special article on the subject ; as to the manner in which the
original chorus developed into the drama, to the articles COMOEDIA
and TRAGOEDIA; and for the various kinds of
) and special technical
details of dancing, to the article SALTATIO
It is practically to the chorus of the Attic dramatists that we have to
confine our remarks; and they may be conveniently arranged under the
1. Number of Choreutae.
The circular dithyrambic chorus, as systematised by Arion for public
exhibition in the city, consisted of 50 members (Simonides, 147
(203), ed. Bergk). The early tragic chorus consisted of 12, and is
said to have been raised by Sophocles to 15 (Suidas, (Σοφοκλῆς
). It has been supposed
accordingly that the dithyrambic chorus of 50 was first arranged in
a quadrangular form, which required only 48, and afterwards was
divided into four choruses, one for each of the dramas of a
tetralogy. Pollux (4.110) declares that up to the production of the
the tragic chorus
consisted of 50, but that the people were so frightened at so many
horrible figures that thereafter the number of the chorus was
lessened. But this is a mere story, invented to account for the
change of numbers. Again it was from the country dithyramb, not from
the city dithyramb as organised by Arion, that the drama arose: this
latter is to be regarded as the elder sister rather than as the
parent of the Attic drama; and in the country dithyrambic chorus we
have no evidence how many choreutae took part. At any rate, in the
chorus of Attic tragedy there were originally 12 and afterwards 15;
and where 14 are mentioned (e. g.
Müller), the coryphaeus is omitted. Whether the same
choreutae took part in all four plays of a tetralogy or not, is a
disputed point, and there does not appear to be sufficient evidence
forthcoming to decide it (see A. Müller, Die
p. 333). There
were certainly 12 choreutae in the Persae
Müller, op. cit.
202, note 3), and
most probably in the Ajax
pp. 53, 79); but it remains an undecided
question whether there were only 12 in the Agamemnon
as is the
view of Wecklein (Neue
Jahrbücher für Philologie,
xiii. p. 217), who holds that Aeschylus had a chorus of 12 in all
his plays, or 15, as is attested by the
Scholiasts on Eumen.
586 and on Equites
589, and is maintained by R. Arnoldt
(Der Chor im Agamemnon,
chorus appears to have consisted of the
same number as the tragic chorus. The CHORUS very scanty evidence on
the matter points to 15 (Tzetzes, l.c.;
Arnoldt, Die chorische
But the chorus of comedy
consisted of 24
(Schol. on Aves,
297). Only half a
tragic chorus was given to the comic poet, and the same choreutae
had to appear in the three comedies of each Agon (O.
2. Movements and divisions of the Chorus.
The dramatic chorus, unlike the cyclic, was quadrangular (τετράγωνον σχῆμα,
), one of the features which it borrowed
from the Dorians (Ath. 5.181
Pollux tells us (4.108, 109), the entry of the chorus was called
its final departure
its temporary departure
and its return
after such departure ἐπιπάροδος.
(Examples of the latter due to change of scene in the Eumenides,
866; and Alcestis,
872.) The tragic chorus was arranged in ζυγὰ
of 3 and στοῖχοι
of 4 or 5; the comic chorus in ζυγὰ
of 4 and στοῖχοι
of 6. The
arrangement was said to be κατὰ
or κατὰ στοίχους,
according to the depth (Poll. 4.108). The chorus usually entered the
orchestra κατὰ στοίχους,
door at the right of the spectators. It rarely made its entrance
otherwise, e. g. on the stage, as in the Eumenides
(cf. 5.185), and in the
by half the chorus (Schol. on 5.321); or
hovering over it, as in the Prometheus
(128-283). Other examples in A. Müller, op. cit.
The arrangement of a chorus of 15 at its entrance may be represented
The members of the row (στοῖχος
next the spectators, viz. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, were called ἀριστεροστάται>
(a term retained
even when the chorus on very rare occasions, as coming from the
country, entered by the door on the left), or πρωτοστάται.
Here were the best-looking and most
skilled choristers (Schol. in Aristid. p. 535, 18 sqq.
), the middle place No. 3 (cf. Photius, s. v. τρίτος ἀριστεροῦ
), or No. 2 in a
chorus of 12, being occupied by the leader of the chorus, κορυφαῖος;
and before and behind him
were the παράσταται,
leaders of divisions cf the chorus. The leader, who was also the
arranger of the chorus, bore the titles ἡγεμὼν τοῦ χοροῦ, χοροστάτης, χορολέκτης,
and in early times he was the χοραγός.
(That all these titles were
applied to the leader is shown with great wealth of proof by
pp. 12-15.) The
members of the third row were called δεξιοστάται
(Poll. 2.161; 4.106); and those of the
second row, which contained the most inferior choristers, were
as forming a
kind of alley (λαύρα
) between the
first and third rows. What the ὑποκόλπιον
was (Photius, s. v.), whether the whole of
the second row (Muff, op. cit.
p. 5, note 3)
or only the middle members of it, viz. 7, 8, 9 (Sommerbrodt, op. cit.
p. 8), remains disputed. The ψιλεῖς
( “exposed” ), or,
as they are occasionally called, κρασπεδῖται
( “fringe men” )--which were
the same (Hesych. sub voce
)--were the two extreme
: viz. 1, 6, 11, and 5, 10,
The entry of the chorus by ζυγὰ
very rare. R. Arnoldt (Die Chorpartieen bei
pp. 35, 186) considers that it was the case in
Subjoined is a representation of an entry κατὰ ζυγὰ
of a chorus of 15.
Here 2 is the κορυφαῖος
: 1 and 3,
: 1, 2, 3, the
: 13, 14, 15,
: the three
Rows 1 13 and 3 to 15, the
Either row 2 to 14, or Nos. 5, 8, 11,
formed the ὑποκόλπιον τοῦ χοροῦ.
The chorus sometimes did not enter in order at all, but severally
); cf. Poll. 4.109. An obvious
example is the Oedipus Coloneus,
5.117 foll. (Muff,
When the chorus arrived in the orchestra and had to enter into a
dialogue with the actors, they made an evolution, so that the
the stage. When the stage was not occupied by actors, and specially
in the parabasis (see below), the chorous turned round, or perhaps
made a regular evolution round (Schol. on Pax,
733) and faced the audience (Proleg. de
vii. in Schol. in Aristoph.
xvii., ed. Dübner). They appear to have mounted the stage
occasionally, as in the Oedipus Coloneus,
291); probably in the Helena
(19627-1642), the Aves
(353-400), &c., if we are not merely to
suppose that the chorous stood sufficiently close to the actors to
be able to touch them. The chorus sometimes divided into two
each denoted in MSS.
which stood opposite
one another (χοροὶ ἀντιστοιχοῦντες
Xen. Anab. 5.4
). This was very frequent in the
strophe and antistrophe of the parabasis. In the chorus of 15 each
division was led by a παραστάτης,
while the κορυφαῖος
the whole; in the chorus of 12, the κορυφαῖος
led one division and the παραστάτης
the other. Subjoined is a representation
of a chorus of 15 divided in two in the most usual way:--
though no doubt many of the other possible orderly
arrangements were often employed. Notwithstanding the statement of
Pollux (4.107), there seems to have been a difference between
The latter is that permanent division of
age or sex or rank which is found, for example, in the
and the Aves,
where the chorus consists of a male and female
group (A. Müller, op. cit.
The Scholiast on the Equites,
that in such cases the more distinguished group, e. g. here the male
division, consisted of 13, and the less distinguished of 11; but
this is very questionable. There is no certain example of such
in the extant
tragedies, though it has been assumed in the Supplices
of Aeschylus and Euripides (R. Arnoldt,
Die chorische Technik des Euripides,
pp. 72 ff.).
But the chorus at times used further to divide into στοῖχοι
and even into individual choristers. A remarkable
example of this latter is in the Agamemnon
during the murder scene; and it has been
suggested that in this and similar cases all the choristers speak
each his own distich together,
and not one
after another (Mahaffy, History of Greek Literature,
1.267). When a chorister had to take the part of an actor, such was
(4.109), who however omits the really essential point that, as the
name indicates, his part must be spoken, not on
the stage but from the side
was an example of
what is called παραχορήγημα
is, anything outside what the choregus was strictly bound to supply,
but it is especially applied to an additional chorus, as, for
example, that of the θεράποντες
3. The songs of the Chorus.
As the chorus entered the orchestra, it, or as some say the
coryphaeus alone, usually sang the πάροδος,
a term like our “march,” applied
also to a species of music. Aristotle (Aristot. Poet. 12
) defines it as πρώτη λέξις ὅλη τοῦ χοροῦ.
It was very
frequently in anapaests. The στάσιμα
were the regular choral odes which were sung
after the chorus had taken up its position on the θυμέλη,
and had duly arranged itself.
served to divide the
play into acts. They generally consisted of one or more στροφαί,
that portion which was sung as
the chorus moved from left to right, ἀντιστροφαὶ
as it moved from right to left, while
the conclusion of the ode was sung standing and called ἐπῳδός
(Schol. on Eur. Hec. 647
). This of course can only
refer to the στάσιμα
which was sung
by the whole chorus, and not by two half-choruses. That the strophae
and antistrophae of all the stasima of Sophocles were sung by
half-choruses, while the whole chorus sang the ἐπῳδός,
is the view of Muff (op. cit.
p. 24 et passim
652). The introduction of the
strophe, antistrophe, and epode into the original monostrophic
chorus is attributed to Stesichorus, though it must be remembered
that Alcman had a chorus of fourteen strophes, of which the last
seven were in a different metre to the first seven (Grote, ch. 29).
The ἐξόδιοι νόμοι
or μέλη ἐξόδια
which is the term for the whole of the last
act: see Aristot. Poet. 12
Muff, p. 45) were sung by the chorus, or the coryphaeus, as the
chorus moved off the stage to the left of the spectators: like the
it was usually in
anapaests. A dirge between the chorus and the actors, as in the
(306 ff.) and the [p. 1.422]Electra
Sophocles (121 ff.), was called κομμός
dialogue which the MSS. by the heading ΧΟΠ.
seem to intimate was held between the actor and
the chorus was either sustained on the part of the former by the
coryphaeus, or, as seems very probable, the choral parts in κομμοὶ
are to be assigned to individual
choristers. (See the full discussion in Muff, op.
pp. 41, 42.) It is generally said that the dialogue of
the coryphaeus with the actor was called καταλογή,
while the παρακαταλογὴ
was what was delivered by the
individual choristers in opposition to μέλος
or song of the whole chorus (see B. Arnold, p.
388). But it is more correct to assume that the καταλογὴ
were the iambic trimeters which
by the actors, and the
verses which they sang in a kind of recitative with musical
accompaniment (see Muff, op. cit.
Zielinski, Die Gliederung der altattischen
is the distinctive feature of
the chorus of the old comedy. In it the chorus, making an evolution
and facing the audience, addressed them with remarks on personal
matters or on topics of the day (cf. Schol. on Eq.
733). It consisted of several
parts, all of which can be seen in the Aves:
--(1) The κομμάτιον
(675-683), a short lyrical piece, sung while the chorus was making
the evolution to face the audience. (2) The παράβασις
proper or ἀνάπαιστοι
(684-735), the address of the coryphaeus
to the audience, generally in anapaestic tetrameters catalectic (in
in Eupolidean metre). The concluding
portion of this was called the μακρὸν
(probably 722-735), as it had to be recited in one breath (Hephaest.
p. 135; Poll. 4.112). (3) στροφὴ
short lyrical hymn. (4) ἐπίρρημα
(752-767), trochaic tetrameters catalectic, sung in recitative to a
musical accompaniment by the coryphaeus. It is a sort of addition to
the parabasis proper, and is an address to the people, giving
advice, &c. (5) ἀντιστροφὴ
corresponding to the στροφή.
corresponding to the ἐπίρρημα.
many MSS. of Aristophanes the στροφὴ
are assigned each to a semi-chorus; but Müller (op. cit.
219, note 3) does not think much
weight is to be attached thereto. Sometimes the separate parts of
the parabasis are in different portions of the play, as in the
4. The dances of the Chorus.
As derived from the dithyramb, of course the chorus danced. The term
and the old name
given to poets,
proves this further (Ath. 1.22
). But it
must be remembered that the term “dance” is to be
regarded as equivalent to any “rhythmical movement.”
There were three kinds of dances: a special one for each of the
different kinds of drama--the grave and stately ἐμμέλεια
for tragedy, the frolicsome
for the Satyric drama,
and the licentious κόρδαξ
comedy (Lucian. de Salt.
p. 101, 16). Aristophanes (see Nubes,
540) does not appear to have used the
In some cases-as, for
example, in the στάσιμα
was generally quite a secondary feature; but there can be no doubt
that the chorus danced (i. e. moved rhythmically) while singing the
It is stated in so
many words (Aristoph. Thes.
); and the term στάσιμα
means what is sung, not while the chorus remains stationary (Schol.
on Eur. Phoen. 202
), but what is
sung after they had taken up their position in rank and were no
longer settling themselves (Hermann, Epist.
§ 665). That the contents of
many stasima point to the accompaniment of dancing, Muft (op. cit.
33, 34) considers very likely,
taking as example the celebrated chorus in the Oedipus
608 ff. Sometimes the coryphaeus sang while
the chorus danced. Those entrances and exits which were not regular
marches were often accompanied with the dance; and there appears to
have been a certain amount of rhythmical movement in the κομμοί
(A. Müller, op. cit.
p. 222). The dance took a much more
prominent position, and a more lively movement was adopted, in the
and in this
respect they are distinctly contrasted with the στάσιμα
(Schol. on Soph. Trach. 216
). Other examples of
693; Oed. Tyr.
appears that the coryphaeus used to give the first few steps of the
dance (ἐνεδίδου τοῖς ἄλλοις τὰ τῆς
ὀρχήσεως σχήματα πρῶτος,
Dionys. A. R. 7.72
). To help the
evolutions and dancing of the chorus lines (γραμμαί
) were drawn on the thymele to guide them
(Hesych. sub voce
), just as in the ballet at
present. After the Peloponnesian war the art of dancing declined.
Carcinus had introduced a kind of very quick ballet which consisted
of pirouettes and rapid twirlings of the legs, and this style of
dancing became popular (cf. Aristoph. Vesp.
and Curtius, History of Greece,
4.104). As to the
steps and figures of dancing, reference must be made to Chr.
and to the article SALTATIO.
5. The musical accompaniment of the Chorus.
Originally the accompaniment was played on a kind of stringed
instrument called κλεψίαμβος
; see Muff, op. cit.
47); afterwards by one flute-player (seldom by
more than one), playing on a double flute (A. Müller, op. cit.
p. 210, note 2). The flute was
chosen as the instrument, since it best harmonised with the human
voice (Aristot. Prob.
19.43). Dressed in splendid
garments and wearing a crown, the flute-player marched before the
chorus at their entrances and their exits. During the performance he
remained on the thymele or on the steps of the altar (A.
Müller, p. 136, note 1). Sometimes there was also the
accompaniment of a stringed
(Sext. Emp. 751, 17); and both the flute-player and the κιθαριστὴς
appear in the great picture
of the Satyric chorus from the vase of Ruvo, given by Wieseler
Taf. vi.), and elaborately
discussed by him in Das
it is also reproduced in Baumeister's
fig. 422. The διαύλιον
appears to have been a symphony
by the flute-player, the voices not joining in (Hesych. sub voce
cf. Schol. on
1264). When the chorus were to sing or
dance, the flute-player gave the signal (διδόναι τὸ ἐνδόσιμον
) by pressing with his foot
an instrument called κρούπεζα,
which was some sort of a wooden rattle (κρόταλον
): cf. Poll. 7.87; Hesych. sub voce
The flute accompaniment
of the σίκιννις
was called σικιννοτύρβη
c). [p. 1.423]
6. The personnel of the Chorus.
They were always men, citizens, of free birth (Dem.
532.56), and generally young. Only at the Lenaea
were metics allowed to serve in the chorus (Schol. on Plutus,
953). Originally the choreutae
served voluntarily (Aristot. Poet.
), but often in later times pressure had to be put on them
by the choregus or chorolectes to make them serve (Antiphon.
§ 11). They were supported by
the choregus during the time of training (Argum. ad
), and after the performance he gave them a
sumptuous meal (cf. Aristoph. Ach.
). They were also paid by the choregus (Xen.
1.13), but we do not know the amount. The state
granted the choreutae the privilege of exemption from military
service (Dem. Mid.
519.15). As there was danger of a
fracas often taking place between the choruses of rival choregi,
by the state to keep order among the choristers (Suidas, s. v.
note 3) thinks
their function was to see that the choristers did not fall into
confusion in making their evolutions.
As to the characters the chorus represented: while the actors were
mostly heroes, the chorus represented members of the people, and
these of the most various kinds,--old and young, men and women,
Greeks and foreigners, even Ocean nymphs in the Prometheus,
and inspired Bacchantes in the Bacchae.
The chorus of the Satyric drama
always represented Satyrs; and in comedy we have all kinds of
fantastic forms, such as clouds, frogs, birds, &c.
7. The dress of the Chorus.
They regularly wore masks [PERSONA
], in order to appear in similar style to the
actors (Theophr. Char.
6; Poll. 4.142). The garments
used in tragedy were a short chiton and the himation, though
generally special choruses were dressed in character: thus the
Eumenides wore black garments and black felt Arcadian hats (Ἀρκαδικὸ πῖλοι
: see Suidas, s. v.
); and the Bacchae wore
Bacchic costume. They also appear to have worn a tight-fitting
) over a certain
amount of padding (προστερνίδιον,
), and the term σωμάτιον
is sometimes applied to this padding (A.
Müller, op. cit.
p. 230). Sophocles
128, 30) is said to have introduced
which had very thin
soles. But as they are said to have been worn by actors as well as
by the chorus, we cannot be sure that the statement is very
reliable, as we know that the actors generally wore cothurni.
Perhaps, as Wieseler (op. cit.
the subordinate actors used to wear them. Further, the chorus had
all sorts of accessories where necessary, such as staves, drums,
torches, thyrsi, &c., which they used to lay aside before
beginning the dance (Schol. on Pax,
The Satyrs' dress was merely an apron (περίζωμα
) of goat-skin round the loins, to which was
attached the tail and the phallus, the latter made of red leather;
they had besides often a goat's skin round their shoulders. They
appeared to be naked, but really they wore a flesh-coloured
tight-fitting garment. On their feet they had very thin shoes,
though in the pictures they appear to have had bare feet (cf.
6.3). On the vase-painting of Ruvo we
find one chorister with a short sleeveless tunic, and the χλανὶς ἀνθινή,
which is mentioned as a
peculiarly Satyric dress (Poll. 4.118).
We have no clear evidence of the costume of the older comedy. It
appears to have consisted of the σωμάτιον,
the latter being laid aside before dancing (Thesm.
655). The ἱμάτια
of the chorus in
were elaborately adorned
(Schol. on Nub.
289). Of course the chorus wore the
erect phallus, but this ceased to be worn in the new comedy (A.
Müller, p. 257). On their feet they had sandals (σανδαλίσκοι
): cf. Aristoph. Frogs 404
8. Gradual disappearance of the Chorus.
The practice of introducing into tragedies choral odes which had no
special relevancy to the play, as was especially done by Agathon,
was a sign of the growing feeling that the chorus was not an
essential part of the drama. However, we find mention of a tragic
chorus in the Demosthenic age (Mid.
533.58), and of a
Satyric chorus in the time of Sositheus, 284 B.C. (Anth.
7.707, 3). But from Delphic inscriptions of 260 B.C.
quoted by Wescher and Foucart (Inscript. de
Nos. 3-6), in which no choreutae appear,
these scholars have supposed that the chorus of tragedy had
disappeared by that date. The absence of the choral songs and of the
chorus as a participator in the action is the external mark which,
in a considerable measure, distinguishes the middle and new comedy
from the old. The discontinuance of the comic choregia is attributed
to a decree of Cinesias (Schol. on Ranae,
153). There were no choregi when Aristophanes
produced the Aeolosicon
(389 B.C.), and the Plutus
(2nd edition). But we must not
suppose that the discontinuance of the chorus was sudden, for the
chorus sometimes appears even in the middle and new comedy (Boeckh,
The literature on the subject of the chorus is very extensive. The
most important works are: B. Arnold, art. Chor
des klassischen Altertüms,
R. Arnoldt, Die
F. Castets in Daremberg
and Saglio, art. Chorus;
In the two last
works full reference is made to the numerous works on the
The chorus among the Romans belonged especially to the crepidatae,
i.e. the tragedies modelled on and derived
from the Greek ones; but it also appears in the national tragedy of the
Romans, the praetextatue
(see O. Ribbeck,
Die römische Tragödie im Zeitalter der
607, 631 ff.). Even though Diomedes (491, 29,
Keil) declares that the Roman comedy had no chorus, yet this is only
true generally, for there is an undoubted chorus of fishermen in the
of Plautus. It was probably the
whole company of actors (caterva
), not a
chorus, which said the “Plaudite” with which comedies end
(cf. Cic. Sest. 55
). There appear to have been choruses
in the pantomimus and in the pyrrhica of the empire
ii.3 434, 443). There was no fixed number of choreutae (Diomedes, l.c.
). As that part of the theatre which was the
Greek orchestra was given up to the spectators at Rome, the chorus had
to occupy the stage (Vitr. 5.6
). [p. 1.424]
The Roman chorus
took more part in the action of the drama than did the Greek chorus (O.
Jahn, in Hermes,
2.227: cf. Hor. Ars
193). It was led by a magister
who had his place in the middle of the chorus, and
so was called mesochorus
(Plin. Ep. 2.14
). The musical accompaniment was played by a choraules on a
double flute (Diom. l.c.
). Between the acts the
chorus (probably in tragedy) and the tibicen (in comedy) used to sing or
play (Donatus, Arg. ad
); and Horace (Ars
194) especially urges that the subject of the songs should
be pertinent to the action of the drama. The chorus was composed of men
who were professionals (artifices
), and who
were for the most part slaves (Ribbeck, op.
639, 657). As the chorus of the Romans
sometimes represented women (e. g. in Ennius's Medea;
cf. Cic. Fam. 7.6
they must have worn masks. They were probably dressed after the manner
of the Greeks, and the dresses appear to have been very splendid, as was
the whole production of plays at the end of the republic and during
imperial times; e. g. purple cblamydes were wanted for a chorus of
soldiers, as is told in a well-known story (Hor.
Besides B. Arnold (op.
), O. Ribbeck (op.
), see Gaston Boissier in Daremberg and Saglio, and
Friedänder in Mommsen-Marquardt, 6.523.