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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In Greek comedy, the parabasis (plural parabases; Template:Lang-grc) is a point in the play when all of the actors leave the stage and the chorus is left to address the audience directly. The chorus partially or completely abandons its dramatic role to talk to the audience on a topic completely irrelevant to the subject of the play.

For example, in the play The Wasps by Aristophanes the first parabasis is about Aristophanes' career as a playwright to date, while the second parabasis is shorter, and contains a string of in-jokes about local characters who would be well known to the ancient Athenian audience (e.g. the politician Cleon).

A parabasis usually consists of three songs (S) alternating with three speeches (s) in the order S-s-S-s-S-s. The first speech often ends with a passage which is to be rattled off very quickly (theoretically in one breath - called a πνῖγος - pnigos). The parabasis is exclusively a feature of Old Comedy, and after the parabasis was abandoned the role of the chorus declined.


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Parabasis" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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