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The Chorus

The chorus played significant roles in the classical Greek theatre. It was
made of Athenian men who stood on the stage commenting on incidents
and characters, as well as dancing and singing in between episodes.
Originally, the chorus was said to be fifty in number, but with the
introduction of several characters, the number appeared to have been
reduced to twelve. In fact, as time went by, the position of the chorus
appeared to be crippled. They in fact, were non-existent in some plays of Euripides.

In spite of the fate of the chorus in the 4th Century B.C., it played
dominant roles in the Greek theatre of the 5th Century B.C.
The chorus performed the following functions:
• In some plays, it supplied ethical and social background. It played
this role in Oedipus The King by Sophocles, and in The Oresteian
Triology by Aeschylus.
• Sometimes the chorus played the role of characters in plays, giving
  advice, expressing opinion etc.
• The chorus helped to create mood
• It equally helped to create rhythm and pause to enable the audience
  to reflect on what has been presented.
• The chorus equally served as idea spectators, reacting to the play in
   the manner the audience would have reacted
• The chorus equally coloured performances with songs and dances.
  This helped to heighten dramatic effect. The Greeks had great interest in dance,
  and would not tolerate any shoddy performance of it. Consequently,
  choruses were assigned to playwrights 11 months before the actual performance.
Training of the chorus was quite protracted and arduous.

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