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GREEK THEATRE AND CHORUS.            09
it was both a religious, and popular enjoyment.
The sons of Fisistratus did much in these days to encourage and stimulate it. They arranged contests, rewards, etc., with profusion.
The tragedies of Thespis which he both wrote and acted himself, had but one performer, who, rapidly changing his mask, assumed various different characters in the play. The monotony was soon felt, and in order that dialogues might be used, a chorus was introduced, and then much of the action consisted of duets between the solitary performer, or protagonist, and the chorus.
Phrynicus, a few years later, allowed this single actor to take both male and female charao-ters; but the first thorough representation of tragedy, with its properties carefully attended to, is due to the great tragic poet Aeschylus, who instructed the actor and the chorus carefully, and gave attention to thoroughness in its every department so far as then known.
The platform and auditorium were still uncouth wooden structures, until a poetical contest took place between Phrynicus and others, when the benches were so crowded that the whole structure gave way and many were injured; after this the theatres were built of stone.
The performances were still regarded as belong­ing to religious rites; the seats were at first built in a semi-circle around the altar of Dionysius, and the theatre never became, as with us, an every-day matter, but was only used at certain Dionysian feslivals, which occurred about three times eacb






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III