The Greek Theater was very important in the development of Greek culture and, moreover, served as an influence and inspiration for other ancient peoples, especially the Romans.

Remember that the Greek term theatron means “place to see” or “place to look”. Greek theater was made up of various elements, sets and costumes. In addition to the presence of juries, they featured songs, dances and mimes.

Feature Summary

Learn about the most important features of Greek Theater:


The Greek theater began in Athens, Greece, around 550 BC and emerged from the celebrations held above all for the God Dionysus, divinity of the festivals, fertility and wine.

At the Dionysian celebrations, which lasted about a week, people drank, sang, and danced.Over time, these parties evolved in organization and elaboration, until we reach what we know today as the theater with plot, actors, audience, staging, etc.

Numerous theater festivals were part of Ancient Greece and were performed all day long and many lasted days.


Masks were an essential instrument of the authors’ costumes, being widely used in Greek theater.

Since women did not participate in the performances (they were not considered citizens of the polis), the colorful masks could represent characters of both sexes.


Greek theater
Greek theater

Ancient Theater on Greek Acropolis, Athens

The architecture of the Greek theaters had the most outstanding feature, the outdoor buildings, called arena theater.

Half moon shaped, for better acoustics, they had a large audience. Of note are the Delphi Theater and the Dionysus Theater.

In classical times, several theaters were built in Greece. For the Greeks, going to the theater represented a great event, which gradually took over the social life of the inhabitants.


In Ancient Greece the theatrical genres were classified into:


From the Greek, the term tragedy ( tragoedia ) is formed by the words, ” tragus ” (goat) and ” oidé ” (song), and means “song to the goat”, since in the celebrations of Dionysus (Song of the Goat), one male goat was sacrificed for an offering, and men dressed as satyrs.

It is the oldest theatrical genre of all which was based on tragic and mythological stories, eg fear, death, terror. That is, tragedy is an artistic genre that represents a play (or poem) with an unfortunate ending.

Greek tragedies were usually composed of five acts and one of the important features that set it apart from comedy was the characters. Thus, in tragedy the characters were gods, kings and heroes, while in comedy the characters were ordinary men.

The most important Greek playwrights of this genre were: Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. It is worth remembering that unlike the jurors in the Comedies, the juries of the tragedies were formed by five important people of the aristocracy.


From Greek, the term comedy ( komoidia ) meant a “fun show.” It is, therefore, a critical theatrical genre based on satires that approached various aspects of Greek society in a comic way.

Note that it was considered by the classics as a minor genre in relation to tragedy. The comedy juries were not aristocratic as in the tragedy, which consisted of three people from the audience.

For the Greek philosopher Aristotle, tragedy was a larger genre since it represented superior men, while comedy represented everyday facts and therefore it was represented by inferior men, namely the citizens of the Polis. Of the playwrights of this genre, stands out: Aristophanes.


Many Greek theatrical plays are performed to this day in view of their influence on the world. Are they:

  • ” Oedipus King ” of Sophocles
  • Aeschylus’s ” Chained Promise “
  • Euripides’s “Trojans”
  • “The Wasps” of Aristophanes

Roman theater

In addition to Greek theater, Roman theater was influenced by it and developed in the classical era.

Similarly, theater in ancient Rome played a very important social role in society which influenced the politics and beliefs of the population.

Among the Roman playwrights stand out Plauto, Terencio and Menandro.

Curiosities: Did You Know?

Greek theater
Greek theater

Theatrical Masks

The mask of Tragedy and Comedy are widespread symbols in the theater and refer to their Greek origin and the main genres disseminated in Ancient Greece.

Fancy Feroza

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