Thursday, November 21, 2013

Alcestis

by Euripides
Spirits have many shapes by Suzanne Coley

Chorus (singing)
Spirits have many shapes,
Many strange things are performed by the Gods.
The expected does not always happen,
And God makes a way for the unexpected.
So ends this action.
Translation: Richard Aldington, 1930, London

These are the last five lines of Alcestis, a tragedy by Euripides.

Classical Greek Drama
During ancient Greek times, the chorus played an important theatrical role.  Wearing masks and singing in unison, they were commentators of the action.  They voiced public opinion, made the actions of the characters clearer, and said things that the main characters could not say.

The chorus in Euripides' tragedies consisted of fifteen actors.  In the final scene, called exodus, the chorus remained on stage and sang the last lines.  
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