Curiosities of Music - online book

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made a bold innovation by representing contempo­raneous events upon the stage. He once ventured to represent the conquest of Miletus, from the Athenians; the effect, according to Herodotus, was startling, the whole audience burst into tears, and the Athenian government forbade any further plays on that subject, prohibited the piece from ever being represented again, and fined the poet heavily.
The contests between rival writers, by simulta­neous production of their pieces was a fruitful source of jealousy. Aeschylus upon being vanquished in one of these by Sophocles, took his defeat so much to heart, that he left Athens for some years, and took up his residence in Sicily.
In the plays of Thespis and Phrynicus, one actor only was employed; Aeschylus enriched his works by adding a second performer, called the Dcutcr~ agonist. Sophocles went beyond by adding the third, or Tritarjonist, and desired even more, for in his Oedipus in Colonus, he found that four players were a necessity, and wrote the tragedy for that number, but dared not publicly mnke the innovation, and therefore this great work remained unperformed until after his death.
The above mentioned three performers, had their distinct lines of duty, as we to-day have upon the stage, actors for each kind of character, but the distinction was carried to great height on the ancient stage, for the first actor always came on the stage from the right entrance, the second from the left, and the third from the centre.

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