- Greek theater of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Theperiod saw the evolution of both tragedy and comedy through two greatannual competitions held in Athens: the city Dionysia fortragedies and the Lenaea for comedies. It also supplied thefirst major Western dramatist whose work survives in Aeschylus,two more great tragic poets in Sophocles and Euripides,and the Old Comedy of Aristophanes.
During the period the emphasis on religious themes and abstractissues found in the early plays increasingly gave way to individualcharacter analysis. The chorus's role was reduced and more actorsbrought upon the stage. Basic props and scenery were also introduced.The first plays were staged in the orchestra in Athens marketbut as the popularity of drama grew, performances shifted to the steepAcropolis hill, where wooden, then stone, seats were installed. Thedevelopment of Middle Comedy and then New Comedyin the later 4th century BC had an important influence onRoman drama. see also Greek drama.