How Were Actors Treated in Ancient Greece?

Acting has been an integral part of human society since ancient times. In ancient Greece, theater was considered a significant cultural event, and actors were held in high regard. However, the treatment of actors in ancient Greece was vastly different from what we see today.

The Social Status of Actors

In ancient Greece, actors were not considered equal to other citizens. They belonged to a lower class and were often looked down upon by society. The reason for this was that acting was perceived as a form of deception, and actors were seen as people who pretended to be someone else.

The Working Conditions of Actors

Actors in ancient Greece had to work under challenging conditions. There were no proper theaters or stages, and performances often took place outside in open spaces. Actors had to perform in extreme weather conditions – during scorching summers or chilly winters.

Moreover, most actors did not have the luxury of having a permanent place of residence or income source. They had to travel around with their troupe and perform at various locations to earn a living.

  • Costumes: The costumes worn by actors in ancient Greece were elaborate and expensive. They were often made from the finest materials like silk, linen, or wool.
  • Masks: Masks were an essential part of ancient Greek theater.

    They helped the audience identify the character being played by an actor.

  • Chorus: The chorus was an essential part of Greek Tragedy. It consisted of a group of singers who sang and danced between scenes.

The Role of Women in Greek Theater

In ancient Greece, women were not allowed to participate in theater productions as actors. Men played both male and female roles on stage. This was due to the belief that women could not act convincingly enough or that it was inappropriate for them to perform in public.

However, women did play an essential role in theater production. They were responsible for making costumes and masks and assisting with the choreography of the chorus.

The Life of a Successful Actor in Ancient Greece

Despite the challenges, some actors in ancient Greece achieved great success and fame. These actors were highly respected by society and often received patronage from wealthy individuals. They were also given special privileges, such as exemption from military service.

Successful actors often formed their own troupe, which included other actors, musicians, and dancers. They would tour around different cities and perform at various cultural events.


In conclusion, the treatment of actors in ancient Greece was vastly different from what we see today. While they were held in high regard for their talents, they belonged to a lower class and had to work under challenging conditions.

Despite this, some actors managed to achieve great success and fame during their time. Ancient Greek theater continues to inspire modern-day theater productions, and we owe a debt of gratitude to these talented individuals who helped shape our cultural heritage.