Satyr Play

What is Satyr play?

Definition: A satyr play is a type of ancient Greek drama that was performed as a part of a trilogy, along with two tragedies, during the Athenian festival of Dionysia. Satyr plays were bawdy, comic works that featured a chorus of satyrs, mythological creatures who were half-man, half-goat.

The plays typically satirized the gods and heroes of Greek mythology, as well as contemporary society and politics. They often included vulgar language, sexual humor, and physical comedy. Despite their comedic tone, satyr plays also included serious themes and were often used as a means of commenting on the tragedies that preceded them in the trilogy.

Satyr plays were performed by a chorus of satyrs, who wore masks and costumes that emphasized their animalistic nature. The plays were often accompanied by music and dance and were performed in a more relaxed, informal style than the tragedies that preceded them.

Example of Satyr play:

The only surviving example of a complete satyr play is “The Cyclops” by Euripides. The play tells the story of Odysseus and his men, who become trapped in the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus. The satyrs, who are depicted as Odysseus’s companions, provide comic relief through their bawdy humor and physical antics. Despite the comedic tone, the play also explores themes of pride, hubris, and the dangers of offending the gods.

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