Newark Boys Chorus School

Chorus Greek Definition

Chorus Greek Definition

Chorus is a concept that has been around for centuries, tracing its roots back to ancient Greece. It is an integral part of Greek culture and is often found in the plays and poetry of this era.

In this article, we’ll explore the chorus’ definition in Greek literature and how it has evolved over time.

The chorus was typically comprised of a group of actors who sang, danced, and repeated certain phrases or words throughout the performance. This practice was known as ‘choral ode,’ which served as an accompaniment to the action on stage.

This chorus was used to comment on the action taking place or provide assistance to characters during their monologues. Knowing what this term means can be important when interpreting works from ancient Greece.

Origins Of Chorus

Have you ever wondered what a chorus is and where it originated from?

The word ‘chorus’ has its roots in Ancient Greece, where it was used to describe groups of singers and dancers performing together. In the Greek theatre, choruses acted as narrators or commentators on the action being performed by the actors. They provided background information for the audience and often contributed to the plot by singing songs and speaking dialogue.

The chorus would stand in a semi-circle at the edge of the stage and use their collective voice to provide insight into the drama. This was done through a combination of spoken words and sung lyrics set to music that was often accompanied by rhythmic dance moves. The chorus members were typically made up of older men who had wisdom and experience beyond what was seen on stage.

Choruses have always been an integral part of theatrical performances, bringing not just insight but also an emotional connection between audience members and performers alike. By using their collective voices in harmony, they are able to create a powerful atmosphere that draws viewers into the story being told on stage.

Role Of Chorus In Ancient Greek Plays

The chorus played a vital role in Ancient Greek plays, providing narrative development, dramatic commentary and social commentary.

They were a group of actors who had an important role in the unfolding of the play, providing an extra dimension to the story. They could comment on the action and characters, often providing moral judgment or insight. They were also used to drive the plot forwards and provide a narrative bridge between scenes.

They could also be used to provide social commentary, commenting on the values and beliefs of the society in which the play was set.

All in all, the chorus was an essential element of Ancient Greek theatre.

Narrative Development

The role of the chorus in ancient Greek plays is one filled with narrative development. It provides a visual representation of ideas and engages the audience, helping to further serve the plot.

The chorus is typically composed of multiple people who are unified in their opinions; they use pronouns such as ‘we’ or ‘us’ to emphasize their combined presence on stage. Through song and dance, they can also provide commentary on a character’s emotions and choices.

This helps to add another layer to the story being told, as it gives an insight into how others perceive the characters’ actions. The chorus serves as both an observer and a participant in the play, giving them a unique perspective that allows them to connect with different characters throughout.

By doing so, they become an integral part of the plot’s overall development, which makes them essential to any Ancient Greek play.

Dramatic Commentary

The chorus also provides dramatic commentary, adding another layer of interpretation to the play. Through their songs and dances, they can highlight key themes or plot points that the audience would otherwise have missed. This helps to give the story a deeper meaning, as it allows them to see beyond what is being said or done on stage.

By doing so, the chorus can add nuance and complexity to the characters’ emotions and decisions. As a result, this makes them more relatable and increases audience engagement.

Using their unified presence on stage, the chorus can even challenge or confront characters in ways that wouldn’t be possible without them. This gives an added dimension to the story by providing a different perspective than what is being expressed by other characters.

The chorus’ ability to provide this type of commentary is invaluable and helps drive home any moral messages within the play.

The chorus provides a unique insight into plays that often goes unnoticed. Their involvement in both narrative development and dramatic commentary make them an essential part of Ancient Greek plays, as they are able to engage with audiences in meaningful ways that would otherwise be impossible.

Social Commentary

The chorus’ ability to provide commentary goes beyond just providing deeper meaning and creating emotion, they also serve an important role in providing social commentary.

Through their lyrics and actions, the chorus can make observations and pass judgement on the characters’ actions or decisions. This gives them an opportunity to comment on social issues that might not have been addressed otherwise.

They can also criticize certain aspects of society or challenge accepted norms, allowing audiences to consider these topics from a different perspective.

By doing so, the chorus is able to actively engage with their audience while providing them with valuable insight into the world around them. This provides a unique way for viewers to explore and reflect on various aspects of life, further deepening their appreciation for the play and its message.

The chorus has an undeniable influence on Ancient Greek plays, and their ability to provide meaningful social commentary is just one of the ways in which they add depth and nuance to any story. By engaging with audiences in this way, they are able to create a meaningful experience that resonates long after the curtain has closed.

Choral Odes In Greek Poetry

The chorus played a vital role in Ancient Greek plays, providing crucial commentary to help convey the story. They also sang odes in unison that had both a musical and poetic purpose.

Now, we will look at how choral odes were used in Greek poetry.

Choral odes typically had a structured form and served as an integral part of Ancient Greek plays. They were composed of strophe, antistrophe, and epode sections that could be repeated to create a lyrical flow for the audience.

Here are three ways these odes helped to enrich the stories:

  1. They provided a lyrical background – Choral odes created an atmosphere of music for the audience that enhanced the scenes being acted out on stage.
  2. They added commentary – Oftentimes, choral odes gave helpful insight into what was happening in the story and offered perspective from an outside source.
  3. They increased tension – In some cases, choral odes increased the suspense or drama of a specific scene by adding layer upon layer of emotion and intensity through their lyrics and melodies.

Choral odes were essential components of Ancient Greek plays, helping to add depth to each story with their unique musical style and thoughtful commentary.

How Chorus Evolved Over Time

The ancient Greeks initially used the term ‘chorus’ to refer to a group of people who would sing and dance in religious ceremonies.

Over time, however, this definition evolved, and the chorus became an integral part of many theatrical performances.

In tragedies and comedies, for example, the chorus was made up of actors who would comment on the action taking place onstage, giving audiences insight into characters’ motivations and feelings.

This allowed them to experience a richer understanding of the story as it unfolded before their eyes.

The chorus also served as a means for theatergoers to connect with one another.

Through collective song and dance, spectators could express their emotions in response to what they were witnessing onstage.

This shared experience created a sense of community among members of the audience that still exists today in theatrical productions.

Chorus has long been an important part of theater; it provides viewers with an emotional connection to both characters and fellow audience members, providing an impactful experience that will stay with them long after the performance has ended.

Modern Interpretations Of Chorus

The evolution of the chorus from its classical Greek roots has taken many shapes and forms over the centuries. From ancient theater, to modern film and television, this essential part of storytelling has become a staple for audiences around the world.

In terms of its original form, a chorus was a group of actors who provided commentary on the action taking place in a play. This could be done through singing or speaking, and sometimes even dancing. They were often used as a way to bridge scenes together, or as an introduction to a new character or plot point.

Over time, their purpose evolved to become more than just background noise; they became integral parts of creating atmosphere and conveying emotion in plays and films alike.

Today, choruses are still used in plays but are also seen in other forms of media such as TV commercials, music videos and video games. They can be used to create tension or evoke nostalgia; they can also act as a narrator or voice-over for events taking place onscreen.

Here are some examples of how choruses are used today:

  • To introduce characters or key plot points in TV shows and movies
  • To provide insight into another character’s thoughts or feelings
  • To provide comic relief or moments of levity
  • To propel the story forward with powerful musical cues that enhance the emotion on screen
  • To create memorable moments that stay with the viewer long after the show or movie ends.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Is The Role Of The Chorus Different In Modern Theatre Compared To Ancient Greek Theatre?

The role of the chorus in modern theatre is much different than it was used in Ancient Greek theatre.

In Ancient Greek plays, the chorus was a large group of people who commented on the action taking place and provided insight into the characters’ motivations and feelings.

In modern plays, the chorus is generally reduced to a single character played by one actor.

This character generally provides a narrative perspective that comments on and drives the action forward.

They are also typically used as a metaphor for themes within the play, such as justice or morality.

What Techniques Are Used When Performing A Choral Ode?

When performing a choral ode, it’s important to consider the techniques used in order to do it properly.

Choral odes are usually sung by a group of singers and involve musical elements. To make sure the performance flows well, it is important that the singers be familiar with proper vocal techniques such as breath control and intonation.

It is also important to use appropriate facial expressions and gestures in order to convey emotion and keep an audience engaged. Additionally, having good coordination between the singers is essential for a successful performance.

Are There Any Specific Orchestral Instruments Used In Ancient Greek Choral Music?

Ancient Greek choral music included instruments such as the kithara, aulos, tympanum and lyre. These were used to accompany singing and dancing in religious festivals, funerary rites, celebrations and more.

Some of these instruments had dual purposes; for example, the kithara was both an instrument and also a symbol of Apollo’s power. The lyre was used by famous poets like Homer as an accompaniment to their poems.

In addition to these orchestral instruments, singers would use their voices as a way of expressing emotion through song.

What Is The Difference Between Choral And Solo Singing In Ancient Greek Plays?

Choral and solo singing were both used in ancient Greek plays, however they served different purposes.

Choral singing was typically performed by a group of singers, often accompanied by an orchestra or chorus of instruments such as the lyre, flute, or kithara.

The chorus usually acted as a collective voice for the play’s characters, and provided accompaniment to the solo songs sung by one individual.

Solo singing could be used to express the emotions of a single character and provide a contrast to the chorus.

This format was commonly used in tragedies and comedies alike and allowed for powerful musical storytelling from both individual and collective perspectives.

Are There Any Current Performances Of Ancient Greek Plays Featuring A Chorus?

From the great tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides to the comedies of Aristophanes, ancient Greek plays have been captivating audiences for centuries.

Today, these ancient stories continue to be performed in theaters around the world, often with a stunning choral accompaniment!

In fact, it seems like every few months there is a new production featuring traditional music, costumes and an unforgettable chorus.

With booming voices and intricate choreography, these performances bring the classic stories to life with a dramatic flair that is both mesmerizing and moving.

Whether you’re looking for an exciting night out or seeking to learn more about ancient Greek culture, a production featuring a chorus is sure to exceed your expectations!


The chorus, then, is a vital part of Ancient Greek theatre. It has a special role in conveying the action of the play and creating an atmosphere for its audience.

By using choral odes and incorporating music with specific instruments, the chorus helps to bring out the story’s emotions and conflicts. Furthermore, it serves as a bridge between solo singing and dialogue, making it an essential element of any production.

The importance of the chorus is timeless; even today, when watching modern productions of Ancient Greek plays, we can still appreciate its power to evoke emotion and connect us with our past.

So let’s take a moment to remember that while we may never be able to experience these performances in person, we can still enjoy them through the timeless power of the chorus.