The Classical Quarterly (New Series)

Research Article

The Individualized Chorus in Old Comedy

Allan M. Wilsona1

a1 Gatesbead

The Birds of Aristophanes is unique among his extant plays in that it employs a chorus in which each member has an individual identity, that is, in which each chorus-member represents a different kind of bird. The consequent variety of costume must have been a great visual embellishment to the play, and one is led to wonder how commonly the device employed in Birds featured in Old Comedy in general. Two parallels are frequently cited in the choruses of Eupolis' S0009838800035527_inline1 and Ameipsias' S0009838800035527_inline2, both of which will be considered below, but, although those plays do indeed provide our best evidence outside Birds, I wish to argue here that we may reasonably suspect that some other old comedies known to us had choruses of the type in question, which I designate ‘individualized’ or ‘multiform’ choruses.