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When the playwright Aeschylus began working in the mid-400s BCE, most plays had only one actor and a chorus, a group of background observers who commented on the action. Aeschylus introduced the idea of a second actor to heighten the drama while reducing the role of the chorus. He also had actors wear elaborate costumes, masks, and platform shoes so the audience could see them better. indd 53 10/23/14 11:43 AM matters. Aristophanes’s comedies offer an intimate look into the more seedy aspects of Athenian life.

Historians surmise that merchants offered the krater as a payment to the princess’s family. indd 36 10/23/14 11:42 AM CHAPTER 4 DAILY LIFE T he fiercely independent Greek city-states were forever going to war and then making truces— until the next war. Despite their differences, however, the Greeks were united by their rich, established culture. They lived in a structured society in which daily life was predictable and rituals and customs dictated most behavior. Men met to discuss philosophy and politics at parties called symposia, but citizen women were not allowed to attend.

By the early 500s BCE, Athens found a new man to fix things. Solon was charged with trying to balance the demands of rich and poor, and he instituted several changes that promoted democracy. Among these were outlawing certain taxes and establishing several classes of citizens. These classes were based on wealth, rather than family heritage. Only the richest men could hold office. Although this doesn’t seem democratic in modern times, it allowed people to work their way up the economic ladder to participate in politics.

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Ancient Greece by Diane Bailey


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