It originally consisted of fifty members which were later reduced to twelve by Sophocles, then increased to fifteen members by Euripides in tragedies. There were twenty-four members in comedies, and it performs using several techniques, including singing, dancing, narrating, and acting. In Aeschylus' Agamemnon, the chorus comprises the elderly men of Argos, whereas in Euripides' The Bacchae, they are a group of eastern bacchants, and in Sophocles' Electra, the chorus is made up of the women of Argos.
Dramatic function 
Plays of the ancient Greek theatre always included a chorus that offered a variety of background and summary information to help the audience follow the performance. The Greek chorus comments on themes, and—as August Wilhelm Schlegel proposed in the early 19th century to subsequent controversy—shows how an ideal audience might react to the drama. The chorus also represents, on stage, the general population of the particular story, in sharp contrast with many of the themes of the ancient Greek plays which tended to be about individual heroes, gods, and goddesses.
In many of these plays, the chorus expressed to the audience what the main characters could not say, such as their hidden fears or secrets. The chorus often provided other characters with the insight they needed.
Stage management 
The Greek chorus usually communicated in song form, but sometimes spoke their lines in unison. The chorus had to work in unison to help explain the play as there were only one to three actors on stage who were already playing several parts each. As the Greek theatres were so large, the chorus' actions had to be exaggerated and their voices clear so that everyone could see and hear them. To do this, they used techniques such as synchronization, echo, ripple, physical theatre and the use of masks to aid them. A Greek chorus was often led by a coryphaeus. They also served as the ancient equivalent for a curtain, as their parodos (entering procession) signified the beginnings of a play and their exodos (exit procession) served as the curtains closing.
Modern plays 
Modern plays, especially Broadway musicals and grand operas, sometimes incorporate a contemporary version of the chorus, although they serve a different purpose. Per Six Plays by Rodgers and Hammerstein:
The singing chorus is used frequently to interpret the mental and emotional reactions of the principal characters, after the manner of a Greek chorus.—Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Decline in antiquity 
Before the introduction of multiple, interacting actors by Aeschylus, the Greek chorus was the main performer in relation to a solitary actor. The importance of the chorus declined after the 5th century BCE, when the chorus began to be separated from the dramatic action. Later dramatists depended on the chorus less than their predecessors.
See also 
- Pavis (1998, 53).
- Edwin Wilson and Alvin Goldfarb (1999) Theater, The Lively Art, McGraw-Hill, New York ISBN 0-07-240718-2
- Brockett and Hildy (2003, 22-23), Pavis (1998, 53), Rehm (1992, 26).
- Schlegel, August Wilhelm. 1846. Vorlesungen über dramatische Kunst und Literatur 1. translated by John Black under the title Course of Lectures on Dramatic Art and Litereature (London, 1846; reprint, New York, 1973), 76-77.
- Six Plays by Rodgers and Hammerstein, p. 185
- Haigh, 1898, p. 319
- Kitto, 2002, pp. 22, 27
Further reading 
- Brockett, Oscar G. and Franklin J. Hildy. 2003. History of the Theatre. Ninth edition, International edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. ISBN 0-205-41050-2.
- Haigh, Arthur Elam, The Attic theatre: a description of the stage and theatre of the Athenians, and of the dramatic performances at Athens, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1898.
- Kitto, H. D. F., The Greeks, 1952.
- Pavis, Patrice. 1998. Dictionary of the Theatre: Terms, Concepts, and Analysis. Trans. Christine Shantz. Toronto and Buffalo: U of Toronto P. ISBN 0-8020-8163-0.
- Rehm, Rush. 1992. Greek Tragic Theatre. Theatre Production Studies ser. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-11894-8.
- Calame, Claude; (tr. Derek Collins & Janice Orion), "Choruses of Young Women in Ancient Greece: Their Morphology, Religious Role, and Social Functions", Rowman & Littlefield, 2001. ISBN 0-7425-1525-7
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Chorus". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.