Guide to Literary Terms

Start Free Trial

What is the literary definition of chorus?

The literary definition of chorus is a group of performers who either participate in the action of a play, or more often, summarize and provide commentary on recent action, using music, dance, and poetry.

Chorus

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on February 25, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 186

Chorus - a group of singers distinct from the principal performers in a dramatic or musical performance and, also, the song or refrain that they sing.

Writing an essay?
Get a custom outline

Our Essay Lab can help you tackle any essay assignment within seconds, whether you’re studying Macbeth or the American Revolution. Try it today!

Start an Essay

The word comes from the Greek choros, meaning “a company of dancers or singers,” or “a group of persons singing in unison.”

In ancient Greece, a chorus was a group of male singers and dancers who participated in religious festivals and dramatic performances as actors, commenting on the deeds of the characters and interpreting the significance of events within the play for the audience.

In Aeschylus’s works, the chorus takes part in the action of the play, while in Sophocles’s, the chorus comments on the action. In Euripides’s works, the chorus is lyrical. During the Elizabethan era, a single actor recited both the prologue and the epilogue, and sometimes commented in-between acts to interpret the significance of events, as in Shakespeare’s Henry V, in which The Chorus is a character. Contemporarily, the playwrights T. S. Eliot and Brecht used choruses in their Murder in the Cathedral (1935) and The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1948), respectively.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access


Homework Help

Latest answer posted July 14, 2011, 5:07 am (UTC)

3 educator answers

Explore all literary terms.


See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Previous

Characterization

Next

Chronicle