We would say that Greek theater is the maximum exponent of everything that our society owes to the culture of classical Greece, but that would be to fall into a cliché. It’s known that “everything has been invented”, and that without the Hellenes, today we wouldn’t talk about democracy or the Olympics, not even of the modern productions of theater-dance, with a strong influence on gestural theater.

Modern plays are also based, after all, on the masked theater of ancient Greece. What may be a bit more difficult to recognize is the importance that Greek theater still has in our everyday language. And if you don’t believe it, take a look.

First of All, We Are Persons

Topping our list, the word that defines us all. However, did you know that in the Greek theater, ‘person’ referred to the mask worn by the actor? According to the character they represented, the actors wore a mask or another, with different hairstyles, makeup, and features. It’s worth remembering that women were not allowed to perform in Greek theater (in fact, very few things were allowed), so men put on white masks when they played as a  woman. So, the public identified a character who never left home (misogynism from the Greeks).

Similar to the sculptures of the classical period, the faces on the masks didn’t have a defined expression. That’s why in the texts from great tragedies we read lines that say openly what expression the character has at a certain moment. Some say that the mouth of the masks was flared to help create a better sound projection, although that isn’t entirely clear.

Human and Everyday Dramas

We couldn’t leave aside the theatrical word par excellence. We see ‘dramas’ every day (‘everyday dramas’), the news speaks of ‘human dramas’, and more than one friend tells us that ‘his life is a drama’. But although the drama now has negative connotations, in the Greek theater slang, a ‘drama’ was simply something that was done to be seen, as a performance could be. Its origin is none other than the verb ‘drao’, which means ‘to look at’.

Everyone Was a Hypocrite in Greek Theater

From the Greek ‘hipocrités’, the word ‘hypocrite’ now defines in English as someone who feigns qualities or feelings contrary to those that are truly experienced or experienced. And who were the masters of pretending in Greek theater? Effectively, the actors. The actors in Greece, however, didn’t have the negative aspect that a hypocrite person has now. On the contrary, his profession enjoyed admiration among the Hellenic citizens, and documents are kept that speak of the most popular actors loved by the public.

This status didn’t last long for the actors, who in the Roman theater already suffered contempt for their craft. They were always foreigners or slaves, and they were called ‘histrios’, hence the words ‘histrión’ and ‘histriónic’.


  • Author : Siry
  • Date : May 10, 2019