Ancient Greek Society and Theatre

Identify ways in which theatre supported government (politics), the military, and religion in ancient Greek (or Athenian) society. Cite or quote the source for your information. 

14 thoughts on “Ancient Greek Society and Theatre”

  1. GROUP NAME: The 300 Athens
    Daniella Abramova
    Kevin Martinez
    Richard Guerra
    Ronald Peria

    Democracy means “ruled by people”. According to the short story of Politics by Wiles it was stated how democracy procedures where taking place in Dionysus. A list of jurors was submitted by each tribe, and one individual was chosen from each shortly before the performance to limit the possibility of bribery. Ten judges voted, but only five ballots were counted. Leaving god with the final decision. Greek drama was democratic because the competing chorus comprised ordinary, anonymous men who received a fee for all their services. Pericles got sponsorship of a play by Aeschylus in 472 B.C., which foreshadowed the future leader’s wealth, artistic taste and political savvy. The play showed that it was in favor of Athens’ militant populist leader Themistocles over Pericles’ future archrival, the aristocrat Cimon. Pericles’ social innovations were just as important to his era. He worked to democratize the fine arts by subsidizing theater admission for low income citizens and allowed civic participation by offering to pay the citizens of Athens for jury duty and other civil service.

    Theater supported religion in ancient Athens by worshipers making a giant phallus and sang songs called dithyrambs in praise of Dionysus. In theory dithyrambs actually evolved into theater, singers started acting out the action instead of just singing it.

    Military: Athens and Sparta grew apart and Spartans wanted concessions, but Athens said no, Pericles manipulated the Spartans by allowing them to go to Attica thus giving Athens seaborne attacks against Spartans. Pericles and his 2 sons died from the plague and Athens was never the same since.

    1. Military: Fighting in the military was also very similar to acting in a play it involved the same kind of discipline. Greek drama was similar to this because of the competing chorus. Men who received fee for services. The funds also came from rich cheregos, they contributed to this as well.

  2. Team Name: Attica and Athens

    Group 1:
    Dariel Rodriguez
    Jessica Cruz
    Cristian Reyes.
    Nicholas Cabrera

    Greek drama was democratic because the competing choruses were made up of ordinary, anonymous men who received a fee for their services; but was also funded by wealthy choreogos, and thus satisfied the aristocratic desire for honour.

    The Athenians dancing in a tragic chorus involved the same discipline as dancing a war dance, a form of military parade.

    The procession at the start of the City Dionysia reflected the journey that so many spectators made from the periphery to the centre of the community in order to view the plays. In the ‘leading in’ ceremony, the wooden statue was brought from a shrine outside the city through the gates in a journey that symbolized the god’s arrival from the border town of Eleutherai.

  3. Group name :The Bacchae
    Shaina Williams
    Kimberly Mora Bello
    Anai Ortiz

    Ways in which theatre supported religion:
    – Created plays as a form of rituals
    -Devotions to the Gods
    -Greek drama was democratic because the competing chorus comprised ordinary, anonymous men who received a fee for all their services

    Ways in which theatre supported military:
    -They refected themself in the wars they had

    Ways in which theatre supported politics:
    -Theather mimicked the different political views.
    -Greek drama was democratic because the competing chorus comprised ordinary, anonymous men who received a fee for all their services

  4. Team Name – Team Olympia

    Group 4
    Kimmar Mightly
    Christina Gomez
    Kenneth Wu

    Democracy – Is an idea that is shown heavily in Greek society, impacting their daily lives and shown through theater. Major issues were debated in an open assembly, holding military generals accountable for any actions they took. The idea of theater is a communal experience because of the mass emotion. The surroundings influence the choices of the audience, and thus make it more impactful. Citizens practiced speeches in order to improve rhetoric, and to have a voice
    Religion – Evidence suggests that the theater’s foundations were a temple to dionysus, used to spectate the sacrificial killing on an altar. They used ritualism in theater as well.Impersonating gods.
    Military – Used as propoganda pretty much, in order to unite greek people as one to fight against trojans. The theater was also used as an excuse to read off the names of important military figures.

  5. Group Name: Dithyrambs
    Members: Danielly Ostolaza
    Joshua Cando
    Daniela Tomaino
    Greek theater supposed democracy, military, and religion in Greek society. Greek theater displayed democratic views seeing that it operated in a democratic way. Ordinary people where given the opportunity to participate in these plays. It also allowed for a semi-democratic system seeing that to win jurors needed to vote and agree on who should win the Dithyramb contest of the best play. Plays were also used to spark political conversation as seen in Oedipus’ play that sparked thoughts about political tyranny torn between divine law and trust in laws. Theater also supported religion because they were used to show the historical past and were ultimately based around the Gods they worshiped. They also used songs of worship as well and rituals in plays. Greek theater supported the military by basing scripts off real war such as the Peloponnesian war. By presenting these war plays, they hope that it would aid in lessening the psychological trauma left from war on the veterans as well as help to further demonstrate the war to the citizens.

  6. Team Name: Hercules

    Group 2:
    Chase James
    Cinthia Gallardo
    Jaskinder Pal
    Nathaniel Maldonado

    Greek theaters tremendously helped the idea of democracy. Drama and comedy was something the Greeks truly admired. “The competing choruses comprised ordinary, anonymous men who received a fee for their service.” In a tyranny, the person the leader desires will perform and do anything they want them to do.

    “The democrats allowed the Areopagus to remain as a religious court with the power to try cases of sacrilege and intentional homicide. Aecshylus play celebrates that new role which Areopagus performed on behalf of the people and on the face of it approves the status quo which prevailed in 458 bc.” In the reading the democrats let the Areopagus go on as a religious court with power to do cases of sacrilege and intentional homicide.

    Greek drama was democratic because the competing choruses comprised ordinary, anonymous men who received a fee for the services; but it was also founded by a rich choregos, and thus satisfied the aristocratic desire for honor. Fighting in the military was also very similar to acting in a play it involved the same kind of discipline.

    In ancient Athens, gods played a huge role in their day to day living because the Athenians were in a constant state of transformation. . On their wedding day, they would imagine that they were flying to the marriage chamber of Zeus. In performances they would have a god pop down from the top of the stage. They called that the god in the machine (deus ex machina). The directors would use that in the situations where they write themselves in to a space that they can not get themselves out of. The god like Zeus or Apollo would save the day.

  7. GROUP NAME: The Myrmidons
    Aaron Arroyo
    Thomas Baez
    Antonios Vandoulakis
    Aiyanna Tumalac

    Theatre supported politics in Greece via the way it was run. In Athens, the system of governance was Democracy – a system in which all GREEK men are made equal in politics. The theatre equalized the men by giving both poor people and rich people roles in the play. For the average man, he could join the chorus and sing along to the play. For the rich, by being a Chorego – someone who financed the play – the play and the money spent on the play was a means of obtaining honor. In this respect, everyone who participated in the play did not go without, and everyone had a role, similar to Democracy (Source: Wiles, Politics, p50-53). Peisistratos ruled Greeces as a Tyrant and after he took over, he switched his rule over and unified his people via the encouragement of the use of plays (Source: Crash Course Greek Theatre, 2:38 onwards)

    Theatre supported the military in Greece via the use of Plays to recite the tales of war. In the play known as “Persians” written by Aeschylus, the play described two victories; one victory of the rich and one victory of the poor. In the battle of Marathon, rich Athenians who could afford quality armor beat back the Persians from Marathon. The second battle, the navy battle of Salamis, the poor who manned the ships were instrumental in the defeat of the Persians (Source: Wiles, Politics, p49).

    Theatre supported the religion in Greece via the use of Plays. Typically, whenever a writer of a play wrote himself into a corner and could not resolve the plot because of it, he would employ the use of a God. In a technique that would known from then forward as “Deus Ex Machina”, a God would appear in the story of the play, and set things right. Another aspect of Religion being supported by theatre is that plays were typically held in Dionysus’ honor and worship (Source: Crash Course Greek Theate).

  8. Group name; Apollo
    Garcelle Matthew
    Luke Hahn
    Jonathan Vasquez

    Theater supported Greek culture in many different ways. Theater can be shown in their political system, military, and religion. Theater amplified their political system, their religion, and beliefs, and helped promote their military.

    The ‘leading-in’ ceremony for the festivities involved taking a wooden statue from a shrine outside of the city through the gates into it that symbolized the god’s arrival (Pg 94, Wiles Space). In the video, it shows how theater supported religion by promoting worship, the influence of their gods, and pushing their beliefs onto others. Theater used singing and acting to showcase their beliefs and gods that they worship.

    Political: Theater pushes the word democracy by letting people vote on plays. “Democracy means rule by the people” (Pg 48, Wiles Polities) Theater will help show law and push the government view and changes in the new system of democracy.

    Military: The theater supported the military by giving them a space to showcase during the festivities. They also honored the children of soldiers that died during wars that have come of age (Wiles).

  9. Group 1:
    Jacky Leung
    Peter Vandoulakis
    Elizabeth Chantes
    Jasmine Mason

    The way politics impact us is out of the imaginable. People tend to hate other people for their opinions and so on. However, during the Ancient Greece Theatre was the key to unite people. According to Wiles, Politics, pg 53, “The rich choragus, was allowed no control over the content of the plays he produced and procedures for judging were equally democratic. A list of jurors was submitted by each tribe, and one individual was chosen from each shortly before the performance to the limited the possibility of bribery. Ten judges voted, but on five ballots were counted, leaving the gods with an element of responsibility for the final decision.” According to this quote it greatly affects politics because it created equality and everyone gets equal chance to participate in the Dionysia with no cheats around the system and these rules are made because of the importance and the impact of the theatre. Theatre supported politics and this created borderlines and bases of rules to make sure everything was fair and the idea of Democracy which means rule by the people allowed voting which makes the competition fairer.

    The military supported the theatre in many different ways. They would reflect on the wars they had in the theatre. The military would also support the theatre by giving them a place to perform a show. Also, they would act out plays like they were fighting in the war. This is how they were able to get through the hard times of war.

    Religion was well supported by the theater during the Ancient Greek period. According to the video Crash Course, Greek Theater, many of these theaters had settings in temples and were performed outdoor. Many of the plays were created based on ritual ceremonies and had important roles such as God and Zeus. Not only the plays supported religion, but costumes. Casts would wear traditional Ancient Greek clothing or dress code throughout the play. At the end of the performance, ten citizens would choose a winner and honor them with a banquet, sacrifice, or ivy reef.

  10. Group Name: Spartans of the Polis

    Christie Ndreu
    Robert Xander Bello
    Brian Anner


    -The Ancient Greek political system had a large impact in Theatre. For example, before Athens became democratized, the tyrant Pisistratus took power by violent force but, then decided to unite the people after he took power. The main way he did this was through rituals and celebration of Dionysus. Eventually, parts of Athens became known as Dionysia and at the center of it was an annual theatre competition. Theatre was used as an escape for the people of Athens from all the strife within the political climate of Ancient Athens and Greece. Theatre was also used teach them how to be better citizens. (Thespis, Athens and The Origins of Greek Drama: Crash Course Theater#2)


    – The theater could influence the perspective a citizen has on the military.
    Wiles wrote that, “The story of the Trojan war, as recounted in the Iliad, was found so compelling because it represented a flawed but heroic attempt by different Greek States to unite in a common cause” (Wiles , 94). The war stories themselves provided content for the theater while the theater had the ability to make these soldiers appear more heroic even in tragic failure.


    -Worshipers in ancient Athens would make giant phallus and sing songs called dithyrambs to praise Dionysus. Dithyrambs evolved into Theatre; singers started acting out the words instead of singing the words. Aristotle and followers think that a singer stepped out of the Dithyramb’s chorus and started acting out individuals chorus. (Thespis, Athens and The Origins of Greek Drama: Crash Course Theater#2)

  11. Team Name: Dionysius
    Nick Mallios
    Ngawang Tseten
    Salina Shrestha
    Marcelo Fernandez

    The greek theater was a complex system that interacted with the masses to support the Political system, Military and Religion.

    The politics of the society was seen in greek theater as means elaborating a vast collection of political views on a common platform that was accessible to all. Each play that was performed was a means to illustrate a new political view to convince the masses. Sacrificial prizes were given as incentive to producers plays of different narrative.

    Greek plays also glorify military actions by adapting them to plays. Children of dead soldiers are also treated as part of the play; they come on stage and sign the names of fallen soldiers.

    Greek plays also adapt the mythology of the polytheistic religion and give each god a personal touch. In addition to this, they would have the deus ex machina, which gives the actors that played gods the ability to descend onstage.

  12. Team Name: The Choregos
    Group 5
    Emilia Ilarda
    George Esquea
    Zhen Deng


    It is believed that ancient greek rituals eventually birthed the earliest forms of drama and theater. Prior to theater, rituals consisted of sacrifice of animals in praise of a popular greek god called Dionysis. Dionysis is a greek god of wine and fertility. There is evidence that by the 6th century BCE these once aggressive sacrificial rituals eventually became what is called Dithyrambs. Dithyrambs consisted of worshipers singing songs in praise of Dionysis. It is theorized that these Dithyrambs eventually evolved into theater when singers began to act out the characters in the songs instead of just singing them. This earliest form of theater consisted of a chorus paired with one actor (Thespis) who would use different masks to switch between characters. Although this form of ritual was still considered a dithyramb, The direct impersonation of a songs character is what aided in the evolution of rituals to theater. (Source: Crash Course Theater #2: Thespis, Athens, and The Origins of Greek Drama.)


    Theater supported the military in various ways. One of them was participating in plays that represented the wars. There were two victories in the play created by Aeschylus, one for the rich and one for the poor (Wiles, Politics, p49). Athenians took chorus very seriously. For them, it implied the same discipline as military parades (also called war dance). Pericles manipulated the Spartans by sending them to Attica. The response of Athens was attacking them when arriving. 

    Political System:
    The Greek theatre gave the citizens a place, the time and the reason
    To participate in politics. No matter you are rich or poor, you are equally to have the right to join the discussion of how to be a better citizen and other governing policies. And with the voting rights also on poor people’s hand (Wiles, Politics, P50.), Greek Theatre provide a path for people to participate in the democracy society.

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