Timeline   Development of Greek Drama
7th century

6th century

5th century

4th century

Although the origins of Greek Tragedy and Comedy are obscure and controversial,  ancient sources allow us to construct a rough chronology of some of the steps in their development. Some of the names and events on the timeline have additional information to give additional context.greekrow.gif (1051 bytes)

7th Century BC

c. 625         Arion at Corinth produces named dithyrambic choruses.
                   A dithyramb is an emotional choric hymn or speech

6th Century BC

  600-570  Cleisthenes, tyrant of Sicyon, transfers "tragic choruses" to Dionysus,the god of wine and revelry, therefore a fertility god                                                                         540-527  Pisistratus, tyrant of Athens, founds the festival of the Greater Dionysia,an annual springtime dramatic festival
  536-533  Thespis puts on tragedy at festival of the Greater Dionysia in Athens.Thespis, is known as the first actor of tragedy, thus actors are called "Thespians."
  525         Aeschylus born.First writer of a tragedy.
  511-508   Phrynichus' first victory in tragedy
c. 500         Pratinus of Phlius introduces the satyr play to Athens. A satyr is a mythological figure--half man, half goat--used in bawdy comedies.

5th Century BC

  499-496      Aeschylus' first dramatic competition
c. 496         Sophocles born
  492         Phrynicus' Capture of Miletus (Miletus was captured by the Persians in 494)
  485         Euripides born
  484         Aeschylus' first dramatic victory
  472         Aeschylus' Persians
  467         Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes
  468         Aeschylus defeated by Sophocles in dramatic competition
  463?        Aeschylus' Suppliant Women
  458         Aeschylus' Oresteia (Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides)   
  456         Aeschylus dies
c. 450       Aristophanes born. Aristophanes was the first great writer of satirical comedy.
  447         Parthenon begun in Athens
c. 445        Sophocles' Ajax
  441         Sophocles' Antigone
  438         Euripides' Alcestis
  431-404  Peloponnesian War (Athens and allies vs. Sparta and allies)
  431         Euripides' Medea
c. 429       Sophocles' Oedipus the King
  428         Euripides' Hippolytus
  423         Aristophanes' Clouds
  415         Euripides' Trojan Women
  406         Euripides dies; Sophocles dies
  405         Euripides' Bacchae
  404         Athens loses Peloponnesian War to Sparta
  401         Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus

4th Century BC

  399          Trial and death of Socrates
c. 380's      Plato's Republic includes critique of Greek tragedy and comedy
c. 330's      Aristotle's Poetics includes defense of Greek tragedy and comedy greekrow.gif (1051 bytes)

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