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Satyr Play

  • By: Michael Ewans
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

A satyr play, also called a satyr-drama, was a drama performed at the Festival of Dionysus in Athens from very early in the 5th century BCE. As part of the festival, a drama competition was held, and each competing tragic dramatist had to provide three tragedies and one satyr-drama as entry into the competition. The satyr-dramas provided a light and humorous conclusion to the day’s entertainment after the set of three tragedies and were often based on a story from the same group of myths. They were normally much shorter than Greek tragedies.

It is probable that each competing dramatist had to provide both tragedies and a satyr-drama from the first competition (in 501 BCE) onward; tragedy and satyr-drama go naturally together since they are both ...

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