Using Medea as an example, what was the role of drama-theatre in Greek life as a democracy?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Going to a play in ancient Greek times was as much a religious/social experience as an entertainment event.  Physically, the open amphitheatres provided plenty of democratic opportunities for class interaction and speech-making, but the main attraction was the “lesson from the gods” not only to the population, but to the leaders, warning against overweening pride and hubris, in the form of tragedies in which disobedience to the proper gods brought disaster on the mere human characters, and the chorus (in Medea, a group of Corinthian women) stood for the democratic population.  Here is a typical chorus lament:

          Oh Zeus and Earth and Sun

           Do you hear how this young wife

            Sings out her misery?

            Thoughtless lady,

            why long for death's marriage bed

             Which human beings all shun?

             ....

              Zeus will plead for you in this.

The influence of democracy and the Greek hierarchy of gods is shown in the ritual of carrying the statue of Dionysus from its winter home to a special niche in the amphitheatre.

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