Friday, March 15, 2013

Plays Monthly Meme March Prompt: What's So Greek About It?

Frankly speaking, if I should have a chance to watch a play, I would have chosen Greek play than Shakespeare’s. Why? First, because the language—as they are translated to English—are more simple than Shakespearean plays. Second, Greek plays’ structure enables me to imagine the play as a performance more easily. I have only read two Greek plays so far, and from them, I have observed that they have similar styles. Let’s see some of them,


Greek plays usually contain of:

…is a monologue by one of its character (in case of Medea, the Prolog was performed by The Nurse), which serves as explanatory of the play’s main plot and background.

…is a group of ten or fifteen people who chant with an orchestra, whose role is to react or comment the actors’ choices or decision. The Chorus often acts as ‘consciousness’, when they become the interlocutor to the actors. They can also act as the author’s mean to criticize or emphasize what he wanted in writing the play. Sometimes a Leader of the Chorus performed alone, then followed by the rest, or at other times they perform together.

The Episodes
…is where the actors performed, while in between they would have conversation with the Chorus.

…is performed by the Chorus, to conclude the whole story.


What I loved the most from Greek plays is their beautiful ode or lyrical stanza! The stanzas usually contains of four lines, such as a-b-a-b or a-b-b-a, but sometimes they are built of slightly more complex scheme as a-b-c-c-c-a-b.

Examples of each rhyme scheme (from Medea):

Go, lest her hand be hard
On the innocent; Ah let be!
For her grief moves hitherward,
Like an angry sea.

For pity! What have they to do,
Babes, with their father’s sin? Why call
Thy curse on these? ..Ah, children, all
These days my bosom bleeds for you.

O Zeus, O Earth, O Light,
Will the fire not stab my brain?
What profiteth living? Oh,
Shall I not lift the slow
Yoke, and let life go,
As a beast out in the night,
To lie, and be rid of pain?

And as the lines are built from only short sentences (contain only of several words), the rhyme schemes become more distinct, and the whole ode sounds more beautiful, either chanted or spoken.

What do you think? If you are participating in Let's Read Plays, you are welcome to share your opinions for Plays Monthly Meme by Listra.


  1. I just finished my Greek play for Let's Read Plays and it will be up next week. I loved how different the format is from Shakespeare's work. Both are wonderful in their unique ways.

    1. Yes, and I think I love the Greek little more... :)


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