Life During the Age of Pericles , Theatre and Literary Works

With the angelic voices of a chorus, flawless actors, and the beauty of the written word , the ancient Greeks enjoyed great prosperity in the fields of theatre and literature during the Age of Pericles. In this article, you will encounter details concerning the construction of theatres, as well as popular dramatic writers of this time period.

At the Ancient Greek Theater

During the 5th century BC, the ancient Greek theatre saw great prosperity, as Pericles was determined in his promotion of the theatre, which it is said that he greatly favored. During this time, the families that possessed the most wealth were in charge of making sure the choruses and actors were taken cared of. It was Pericles’ hope that the tradition of the theater pieces would deliver an education based upon moral and intellectual intentions.

When it came to Greek theater, it was Athens that led the way. Changes in the way that theaters were being constructed also came about during the Age of Pericles. Until this time period arrived, all theaters were comprised of stone. However, the concept of provisional theaters emerged, where wood was used to create stages and such. The structures were only meant to last for ten days , the typical number of days that productions were held.

A session at the theater lasted for about eight hours with the performance running straight through. It was customary to hold competitions within the theater, where a jury announced a winner at the end. During this time, the best dramatists submitted their pieces into the competitions. Each play was performed by around three actors and rarely exceeded this number. They wore masks that clearly identified the character they were playing and delivered the play with simple theater surroundings. A chorus accompanied the actors, singing throughout the play.

During the Age of Pericles, a great deal of notable dramatic writers entertained the masses, which included:

Aeschylus (~ 525,456 BC)
Aeschylus focused on writing pieces centered on mythological and religious themes. Often times, he is seen as the father (or the founder) of tragedy. Although he was estimated to have written 70 plays, only seven of them are believed to have survived to this day.

Sophocles (~ 496 BC-406 BC)
Sophocles was known for taking a look at the religious and political problems of his time and delivering analysis and brutally honest criticism. With 123 plays written during the course of his life, it is sad that only seven have been found in their complete form. Notable works include: Antigone, Trachinian Women, Oedipus the King, Electra, Ajax, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus.

Euripides (~ 480 BC, 406 BC)
Taking the stance of a humanist writer, Euripedes did not dwell on the religious criticism that Sophocles was known for. He created controversial characters, such as strong females and smart slaves. He also upset some when he made fun of some of the heroes depicted in Greek mythology.
Aristophanes (~ 446 ,386 BC)
Aristophanes gained a reputation for knowing how to really portray the way of life of Greek for this time period. He was a dominant figure within comic theatre, offering plenty of social criticism. He also earned the nickname of the Father of Comedy and the Prince of Ancient Comedy.