Dionysus Mask

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On 495 B.C.E at Colonus, right beyond the city of Athens, Sophocles was born to a world 15 years after the final tyrant ruled the city. (Four Tragedies, Introduction, xii) This was a period where Athenian democracy flourished, allowing for the blossoming of various Greek playwrights, including Sophocles, to dedicate themselves to the art of ancient Greek tragedies. One prevalent feature that resonated across the different plays was the prominent use of mask. Also known as prosopon, it was significant in the worship of the god Dionysus, and is an iconic convention within ancient Greek theatre since the arrival of Aeschylus (Varakis, Angie. "Research on the Ancient Mask," Didaskalia, Vol. 6.1 Spring 2000, didaskalia.net). The mask, in a sense,…show more content…
In the consideration of its various theorised explanations for its use within Greek drama, we see a prevalent idea in which the mask represents the identity of Greek drama(elaborate), which provides clarity to the performance and its message. The mask creates a physicality within the plays staged that accentuates human performance and movement. Ancient illustrations of these masks belonging to the 5th century depict helmet-like appearances which would obscure the face and head, with holes protruding from the eyes s well as a small parting for the mouth, and potentially along with a wig as well. Ironically, none of these illustrations depict the performer wearing the mask. Rather, the masks are shown being held in the hand of the actor prior and former to the performance. This characteristic highlights how the actor creates a space that exists only between the audience and their stage, a blurred distinction between performance and reality (Vervain, Chris and David Wiles "The Masks of Greek Tragedy as Point of Departure for Modern Performance.” 255). Subsequently, the mask would transform the actor into purely his character. This, in turn, represented the idea that there was no performance involved. The mask had created a performance that separated neither the actor wearing the mask nor the theatrical role of the character itself. Furthermore, the use of masks helped

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