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The earliest number of tragic chorus members was twelve and that is probably the number that performed in The Persians. It was one of the innovations of Sophocles to increase the number of the tragic chorus to fifteen, the number that became fixed thereafter. The choral dances and songs were one of the most important elements of the performance. The chorus performed these in unison. The entrance song (parodos) was performed as the chorus entered the theatre on the house right entrance path (parodos). They marched into the orchestra performing the song in three rows of four or five each. The chorus leader (choregos) occupied the central position in the first row. When the chorus reached the orchestra their resting postion was three rows of four or five each. The best dancers were in the first row closest to the audience, the best singers were in the second or middle row. The choral interludes (stasima) were sung and danced throughout. The chorus as a whole could also perform formal lamentations (kommoi) with the actor in the acted scenes (episodes). When the chorus has a dialogue or any lines in the episodes, normally only the choregos delivered the lines. The normal position for the chorus during the episodes was in three rows with their backs turned to the audience. The chorus was usually treated to free drinks by the producer (choregos) after the performance. The chorus could take any type of role, male or female, slave or free, foreign or Greek, old or young depending on the needs of the play. The chorus members performed in masks and elaborate tragic costumes like the actors. Their dramatic purpose as bystanders and observers or active participants with definate attitudes to the dramatic situation could and did change from play to play and playwright to playwright. The tragic chorus was not necessarily or even usually "the voice of the playwright." What does seem certain is that as Greek tragedy evolved, the tragic chorus became less vital to the play.


boys' chorus with aulos player in front of herm