What Were Comedy Plays Like in Ancient Greece?

Comedy, as a form of entertainment, has been around for centuries. One of the earliest examples of comedy comes from ancient Greece.

In fact, Greek comedy plays were incredibly popular during that time period. Let’s take a closer look at what these plays were like.

Ancient Greek Comedy Plays

Greek comedy plays were performed in Athens during the fifth century BCE. These plays were a part of the City Dionysia festival, which was held in honor of the god Dionysus. The festival was an important cultural event that included both tragedy and comedy.

The Origin of Greek Comedy

The origin of Greek comedy can be traced back to a group of singers known as “phallic singers.” These singers would perform songs that contained sexual humor and innuendo. Eventually, these songs evolved into full-fledged comedic plays.

The Structure of Greek Comedy Plays

Greek comedy plays were structured in much the same way as tragedy plays. They typically consisted of three parts: the prologue, the parodos, and the episodes.

The prologue was an introduction to the play that would often include a dialogue between characters or a monologue from one character.

The parodos was where the chorus would enter and perform their first song.

The episodes were where most of the action took place. These scenes included dialogue between characters and often featured comedic elements such as puns, wordplay, and physical humor.

The Chorus

One unique aspect of Greek comedy plays was the chorus. The chorus consisted of a group of actors who performed together throughout the play. They would sing and dance while commenting on the action taking place on stage.

The chorus was an important part of Greek comedy because they represented the audience’s perspective. Through their songs and commentary, they would voice their opinions about what was happening on stage.

Types of Greek Comedy Plays

There were two main types of Greek comedy plays: Old Comedy and New Comedy.

Old Comedy was the earlier form of comedy and was known for its political satire. These plays would often mock politicians and other public figures.

New Comedy, on the other hand, was a more lighthearted form of comedy that focused on everyday life. These plays would often include romantic themes and humorous situations.


Greek comedy plays were an important part of ancient Greek culture. They provided entertainment for the masses and helped to shape the way we view comedy today. While we may not have phallic singers or choruses in our modern comedies, the influence of Greek comedy can still be felt in the comedic works we enjoy today.