Glossary of Greek and Technical Terms Used

agôn (plural: agônes): a formal debate between two characters with strongly opposing views

barbaros (plural: barbaroi): a non-Greek, often with the derogatory sense conveyed by the English ‘barbarian’

catharsis: the word Aristotle uses to describe the effect of watching tragedy, a kind of purgation of the emotions

chorêgos: the wealthy man who funded the chorus in a tragedy. This funding system is known as the chorêgia

deus ex machina: an appearance by a god, usually to resolve the situation at the end of a play. Especially common in Euripides

dithyramb: a type of choral poetry performed by a chorus of fifty

dysgenês: ill-bred (either in the sense of being low born, or in the sense of showing bad manners or rude behaviour)

ekkyklêma: a stage device used to show interior scenes, consisting of a platform on wheels

episode: a scene between actors in iambic dialogue

eugenês: well-bred (in the sense either of birth or of nobility of character): the opposite of dysgenês

hamartia: a mistake or error. According to Aristotle, it is important that tragic figures come to grief because of a mistake

mêchanê: a crane which enabled gods to appear as though flying above the stage

monody: a solo song performed by an actor

nomos: custom, law, convention

nothos: an illegitimate son

oikos: the household or family unit

paean: a choral song, usually performed in honour of Apollo

parodos: the entry-song performed by the chorus

peripeteia: Aristotle’s word for a reversal of fortune

physis: the nature or character of a person

polis: the Greek city-state

rhabdouchoi: ‘rod-holders’, the theatre-police who controlled the crowd at performances if they became too unruly

stasimon: (plural: stasima): an ode performed by the chorus

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