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The Classic era of Greek Theater

Semele followed this advice, and when Zeus refused to comply, she refused him access to her bed. In anger, he appeared in thunder and lighting, and Semele was consumed. Hermes saved her six-month-old unborn child, however, by sewing him up inside Zeus's thigh to mature for another three months, at which time the child was delivered. Dionysus is therefore called "twice-born" (Graves 55-56).

Edith Hamilton points out that this story of the birth of Dionysus relates to the subject over which he is a god:

So the God of the Vine was born of fire and nursed by rain, the hard burning heat that ripens the grapes and the water that keeps the plants alive (Hamilton 55).

The worshipers of Dionysus were originally all women, and they would act out the parts of the different women associated with the god. They would be seen by outsiders as being in the throes of a form of rage, or madness, which may be the origin of our word "mania" but which involves all its various senses at once, that of raging love as well as raging anger. The women of Dionysus were called mainades, or Maenads:

There were many portrayals of them, showing them in long robes, with heads lightly thrown back, wreathed with ivy, carrying the thyrsus--a long staff of narthex with a pine-cone on its end. Thus attired they ran rather than danced, accompanied by flutes, drums, and tambourines (KerTnyi 260).

Three kinds of plays were presented in the theaters of Greece--tragedies, dealing with heroic legends and often using gods for convenient endings; satyr plays which burlesqued the same legends and indulged in bawdy humor; and comedies, dealing in a farcical way with contemporary life:

All three were performed at fixed ceremonies of a religious and civic nature. All three employed a chorus in interludes between scenes of action and often within those scenes. All three were written in verse. All three used masks. And all three seem related in one way or a...

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The Classic era of Greek Theater. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 22:06, December 19, 2014, from http://www.collegetermpapers.com/viewpaper/1303585280.html
 
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