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satyr play

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Satyr plays were an ancient Greek form of tragicomedy, similar in spirit to the bawdy satire of burlesque. They featured choruses of satyrs, were based on Greek mythology, and were rife with mock drunkenness, brazen sexuality (including phallic props), pranks, sight gags, and general merriment. Satyric drama is one of the three varieties of Athenian drama, the other two being tragedy and comedy. The Satyric style shares many attributes with comedy, both of which may have evolved from an earlier form, kômos.The satyric drama may be traced back to Pratinas of Phlius, c. 500 BC. After settling in Athens, he probably adapted the dithyramb, customary in his native home, with its chorus of satyrs, to complement the form of tragedy which had been recently invented in Athens. It met with approval and was further developed by his son Aristeas, by Choerilus, by Aeschylus, and others. In the Athenian Dionysia, each playwright customarily entered four plays into the competition: three tragedies and one satyr play to be performed either at the end of the festival or between the second and third tragedies of a trilogy, as a spirited entertainment, a comic relief to break the oppression of hours of gloomy and fatalistic tragedy. They were short, half the duration of a tragedy. The general theme of heaven, fate, and the gods affecting human affairs in the tragedies was carried through into the festivities of the chorus of satyrs and Sileni, companions of Dionysus.
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