GREEK LITERATURE NOTES

The qualities of the typical tragedy tyrant:

1. Absence of self-control
2. Willingness to believe the worst on hearsay evidence
3. Brutality towards the helpless
4. A stupid reliance on physical forces as a means of settling spiritual problems.

The Choros in Greek Drama

A. FACTS
1. A dramatic convention (like soliloquy, asides, etc.) arising out of the origins of Greek drama from ritual.
2. Originally 12, became 15 in Sophocles.
3. The language of their odes is Doric (roughly, like the language of the Bible to us today) ; when they speak dialogue they speak Attic Greek like the main actors.
4. They still sing and dance, and occupy the Orchestra, a circular fore stage slightly lower and containing the altar to Dionysos.
5. The Choros speaks to the actors but makes no speeches.
6. In their Odes they refer as Odes usually did, (being hymns) to many myths.
7. They are on stage from the time they enter (after the Prologue) to the end of the play.


B. FUNCTIONS i.e. part of dramatic equipment
1. Choros as narrator: they do some of the exposition. Help audience to know what has happened before the play begins, or at what stage it begins. (vide Agamemnon, Hippolytus).
2. Act as confidant, or confidantes, to main characters allowing the main character to expound necessary information (vide Prometheus, Medea, Agamemnon) .
3. Their lyrical odes (stasima, sing. stasimon) provide for lapses of time when needed for action to. take place off stage between episodes ( Scenes with main characters).
4. Stasima act sometimes as intervals providing relief for the audience from needing to concentrate in a play (and presumably can be enjoyed as songs in the intervals) : intervals not possible owing to size of audience, and for lack of curtain.
5. Can help to create atmosphere like film music- note very ominous Choroses in Antigone and Agamemnon) .
6. Choros is a main character in a few plays: Suppliants, but more important in Bacchae (hampered by not being allowed to make speeches).


C. DEVELOPMENT OF FUNCTION OF CHOROS TO GREATER ARTISTRY OF PLAYS

1. Choros as a point d ' appui --through whose eyes events can be viewed and who help to channel audience's sympathy in the required direction (Medea, Antigone, Choephoroi).
2. By taking an ordinary view of strange events, i.e. voicing objections, they forestall possible objections from the audience.
3. They bridge the gap between the extraordinary and ordinary, particularly where events are extraordinary (Prometheus where though divine, Choros is banal in opinions) .
4. Make the events take place in public- represent public opinion (but note opening of Oedipus, where Prologue is not composed of Choros but is a public deputation to the king). To some extent like jury in an Athenian court - also judges.
5. Serve to slacken tension after climax so we can realise the tragedy.
6. Expression of playwright's opinions -sometime (Prometheus? Agamemnon, Trojan Women) .
Note: Choros Leader develops as character, and is usually responsible for  most of the Choros dialogue speeches (always short).
7. Makes political point about what kind of monarch when counsellors of king (Agamemnon, O.T., O.C., Antig.) (is one reason for a male choros then, even in the Antig?)