City of Dionysia


Eve of festival

  • Proagon - parade in costumes and announcement of the titles and plots
  • Statue brought by torch light and put in theatre
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First day


  • Staue brought through fields and streets of Athens to bless vines
  • crowds followed singing and dancing in their best clothes
  • Prisoners released on bail
  • Sacrifice of the bulls - blood collected, fat and bones burnt on charcoal and meat cooked and blessed by worshipers

Dithyramb competitions

10 tribes each with 50 men all perfomed singing ad dancing in honour of the Gods


Is a party for men by candle light in the streets of Athens with music on the aulos, wine and sacrifical beef and dancing and singing

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First day of competitions


  • Sucking-pigs sacrificed
  • Athenian men marched with silver
  • Honours announced for special citizens who have done a lot of service to their city
  • line of war orphans marched in and led to special seats
  • 10 urns filled with ten names in - one name from each picked out by Archon to decide the 10 judges who were then sworn to judge fairly

First set of plays

  • A trumpet sounded announce the plays
  • then 3 tragedies and 1 satyr play accross 6 hours with breaks in between
  • then lunch and then a single comedy
  • this was then repeated three more days
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Had to pick:

  • 4 tetralogies
  • 4 comedies
  • 4 choregoi
  • 4 leading actors
  • 10 judges


  • Crowned the winners with ivy wreaths
  • drew out 5 tablets to decide the winning playwrite
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Instead of paying taxes, they could choose to:

  • Pay for equipment
  • fit out warship
  • hire and train chorus
  • pay production costs

Also payed for:

  • chorus of 15 men
  • masks and costumes
  • salary of chorus trainer
  • party for actors
  • special effects and scenery
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Last day - prize giving

Judging ~

each judge wrote on a tablet the order of their preference, then put it in an urn of which the Archon drew out 5 to decide the winnners - the most votes won

Prize giving ~

  • Archon crowned the winners with ivy wreaths
  • winning actor might have a money prize, too
  • winning Choregus could put it on a tablet
  • winning actor gave mask to Dionysus
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  • Theatre on slope of Aksopolis, near the God's temple
  • Entry was by ticked of bronze, ivory, lead or bone
  • Cost 2 obols
  • Special front row seats were for distinguished citizens and foreigners, war orphans, priests, Archon and judges
  • Audience took their own cushions and lunch
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The company

  • Protagonist = leading actor
  • deuteragonist = second actor
  • tritagonist = third actor
  • Aulistes (flute players) and apprentices might get small non-speaking parts and/or look after costumes and sound effects
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Functions of the Chorus

  • As an extra character to converse with the main actors
  • To make moral or phylisophical comments
  • To praise God or sing Hymns
  • In comedies they would tell jokes and address everyone
  • To create tension or drama
  • To act as a bridge between actors and the audience
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  • Full length robes and cloaks with long, full sleeves and calf-lenght leather boots and a mask
  • Costumes help identify the character and also made it easier to play and woman
  • The masks went over the whole head with exaggerated eyes and mouth a) to make it easier to speak and see b) to emphasise expressions on the masks
  • Masks made out of linen, cork or thin wood and had lifelike hair
  • Because of masks, actors had to use gestures and tone of voice to get accross emotions
  • The masks gave audience visual clues to a characters identity
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The theatre

4 main features:

  • Theatron - where the audience sat
  • Orchestra - where the chorus acted and sometimes the main actors too
  • Skene - the backdrop which has centre doors where the actors go to get changed. It is also painted and can be used in the plot (like a royal house) and also has a roof that can by used by the actors and for storage
  • Paradoi - used for actors and chorsus to enter the orchestra, also used by audience to enter and leave the theatre
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so brilliant, thank you!!



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