Ancient Greece for Kids
In ancient Greece, theatre was a really
big deal. Crowds of 15,000 people would gather to see a play. Theatre
was so important to the ancient Greeks that prisoners would be
released from jail temporarily, so they could also attend.
Every town had at least one theatre.
The ancient Greeks were always bragging about the wonderful
performances in their city-state. The ancient Greeks held drama
competitions with winners for playwriting and performing. These
competitions were not only held in their own towns, but also in
competition with other towns. Theatre was a big, big deal.
Because so many people came to see the
plays, the Greeks built huge outdoor theatres on hillsides, so that
people could be seated in a way that let them see what was going on
down in the orchestra pit - the stage area. The entire seating
section was called the Theatron, which is the origin of our word
Part of the reason plays were so
important is that originally plays were performed to honor
Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of harvest and wine. But over
time, many different gods got in the act, so to speak, especially
the 12 Olympians - the major gods of ancient Greece. The Greeks
were always weaving the gods into their stories.
Sophocles was a famous ancient
Greek playwright. He wrote 120 plays. But there were many Greek
playwrights because plays were so popular.
There were three types
Tragedies: The first
type they invented was the tragedy. In tragedies, one or more
major characters always suffered a disastrous end.
were invented next. In comedies, plays always had a happy end. The
third type was the satire.
Satires: Satires were
plays that made fun of mortal legends and of real people. In
ancient Greece, you did not poke fun at the gods - not in a play,
not in real life, not ever. But you could poke fun at your
leaders. And that was uniquely Greek. Satires in ancient Greece
were often political in nature, and could indeed affect people's
opinions about current events.