What Did Actors in Ancient Greece Wear?

Actors in ancient Greece were an important part of society. They performed in plays that were attended by thousands of people, and their costumes were an essential part of the performance.

The costumes worn by ancient Greek actors varied depending on the play, the character they were portraying, and the time period in which the play was set. In this article, we will explore what actors in ancient Greece wore.

Costumes for Tragedies and Comedies

In ancient Greece, there were two types of plays: tragedies and comedies. Tragedies were serious plays that dealt with themes such as love, loss, and death. Comedies were lighter plays that dealt with themes such as politics and satire.

The costumes worn by actors in tragedies differed from those worn by actors in comedies. In tragedies, actors wore long robes called chitons.

These robes were made of wool or linen and were often dyed in dark colors such as black or purple. The chiton had sleeves that hung down to the wrists and was fastened at the shoulders with fibulae or brooches.

In comedies, actors wore shorter tunics called exomis. These tunics had short sleeves and could be pulled up to the waist to allow for greater movement during physical comedy scenes. Exomis tunics were often brightly colored and decorated with patterns or embroidery.

Costumes for Specific Characters

In addition to different costumes for tragedies and comedies, actors also wore specific costumes depending on the character they were portraying.

For example, if an actor was playing a god or goddess, they would wear a himation over their chiton. A himation was a large rectangular piece of cloth that was draped over one shoulder and wrapped around the body. It was often decorated with intricate patterns or embroidery.

If an actor was playing a soldier, they would wear armor made of leather or metal. The armor would consist of a breastplate, helmet, and greaves (leg armor). The breastplate would be decorated with the symbol of the city-state the soldier was from.


In conclusion, actors in ancient Greece wore a variety of costumes depending on the play and character they were portraying. Tragedies called for long chitons in dark colors, while comedies required shorter tunics in bright colors.

Specific characters such as gods or soldiers had their own unique costumes that helped to distinguish them from other characters. Costumes were an essential part of ancient Greek theater, and their design helped to create a sense of realism and authenticity for the audience.