a goat

The derivation of the word `tragedy' from Ancient Greek for he-goat (tragos, 'he-goat'), because the prize in the competition for tragedy was a he-goat, is no longer accepted. However, in the earliest stages of Greek tragedy the Chorus consisted of satyrs, the primitive, goat-like followers of Dionysus, no doubt clad in goat-skins. The satyr-play, which Horace goes on to discuss, was a short play appended to a tragic trilogy, usually dealing in comic fashion with a theme related to that of the trilogy, and having a Chorus of satyrs. The only complete surviving satyr-play is the Cyclops of Euripides, best known in Shelley's version and recently [1969] translated for the Penguin Classics by Roger Lancelyn Green. It is doubtful whether, as Horace suggests, the satyric drama came into being later than tragedy; the two forms seem rather to be different developments of the same origins. Little is known of satyric drama in Rome; perhaps Piso, or even Horace himself, was hoping to revive it.

Note from On The Art Of Poetry, by Horace

« LAST » Note « NEXT »