Dionysia

Definition

Theater

  • Annual spring festivals in ancient Greece honouring Dionysus;originally involving simple processions and rites, they evolved intodrama festivals at which prizes were offered for the best plays. TheCity Dionysia, or Great Dionysia, held in Athensin late March and early April lasted five or six days with up to adozen sets of plays being performed. Playwrights would submit a tetralogyconsisting of three linked tragedies and a burlesque satyr play. Performanceswere supervised by the archon, or chief magistrate, with costsborne by rich citizens. Judges were chosen from a panel by drawinglots. The names of victorious poets, actors, and chorus leaders wereinscribed on clay tablets. see also Lenaea.

    The Rural Dionysia were local religious festivals,held annually in December, during which dramas were performed by troupesof travelling players. Many rural governments, or 'demes', constructedpermanent theaters for the festival. One of the most important demesfor drama was Piraeus, where Euripides is thought to have presenteda play. According to Plato, the festivals were held on different daysin different areas to allow people to see plays at more than one ofthem. Some scholars believe the Rural Dionysia provided an outletfor works turned down by the City Dionysia and Lenaea.

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