Thespis was a writer of Greek choral poetry in the sixth century B.C. A chorus recited poems in unison at festivals of the gods. The festival leader would ask a question, and the entire chorus would give a poetic answer. Under Thespis's direction, one member of the cast was given the sole responsibility of answering the questions. Thus theatrical dialogue was created between the leader and the responder, and—presto—spoken drama had an auspicious start. Since Thespis is believed to have spoken these parts, this Attic poet has been considered the first actor. His name has provided the language with thespian both as a 3,50 noun meaning "actor," and as an adjective to describe a relationship with drama.
   Thespis is called the father of Greek tragedy. For his winning performance in a competition in Athens in 534 B.C., he won a prize: a goat. The source for our word tragedy is Greek tragoidia, a compound from tragoa, "goat," and aeidein, "to sing." The reason that the Greeks called this dramatic form goat song is obscure.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

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  • Thespian — Thes pi*an, a. [From L. Thespis, Gr. ?, the founder of the Greek drama.] Of or pertaining to Thespis; hence, relating to the drama; dramatic; as, the Thespian art. n. An actor. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Thespian — may refer to: * A citizen of the ancient Greek city of Thespiae * An actor; this usage is derived from Thespis of Icaria, the legendary first actor. * A member of the International Thespian Society, an honor society that promotes excellence in… …   Wikipedia

  • thespian — *actor, player, impersonator, trouper, performer, mummer, mime, mimic …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • thespian — [n] actor, actress artist, bit player, character, entertainer, extra, ham*, headliner, idol, lead, performer, play actor, player, star, straight person, thesp*, understudy; concept 352 …   New thesaurus

  • thespian — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ relating to drama and the theatre. ► NOUN ▪ an actor or actress. ORIGIN from the Greek dramatic poet Thespis (6th century BC) …   English terms dictionary

  • Thespian — [thes′pē ən] adj. 1. of Thespis 2. [often t ] having to do with the drama; dramatic n. [often t ] an actor or actress: a somewhat humorous or pretentious term …   English World dictionary

  • thespian — {{11}}thespian (adj.) 1670s, of or pertaining to tragedy or dramatic acting, from Gk. Thespis, poet of 6c. B.C.E., the traditional father of Greek tragedy. The names is lit. inspired by the gods. {{12}}thespian (n.) an actor, 1827, from THESPIAN… …   Etymology dictionary

  • thespian — UK [ˈθespɪən] / US noun [countable] Word forms thespian : singular thespian plural thespians humorous an actor Derived word: thespian UK / US adjective …   English dictionary

  • thespian — thes|pi|an [ˈθespiən] n [Date: 1800 1900; Origin: Thespis 6th century BC Greek writer of plays] formal an actor sometimes used humorously ▪ a distinguished thespian >thespian adj …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • thespian — [[t]θe̱spiən[/t]] thespians 1) N COUNT A thespian is an actor or actress. [HUMOROUS or OLD FASHIONED] 2) ADJ: ADJ n Thespian means relating to drama and the theatre. [OLD FASHIONED] …   English dictionary

  • thespian — noun (C) formal or humorous an actor thespian adjective: Aidan turns all his thespian charm on the beautiful Tara …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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