The Ancient Greeks used drama as a way of investigating the world they lived in, and explore what it meant to be human. The three genres of ancient Greek drama were comedy, satyr plays, and most important of all, tragedy.
Comedy: The first comedies were mainly satirical and mocked men in power for their vanity and foolishness. The most famous writer of ancient Greek comedies was the playwright Aristophanes. Menander also wrote comedies about ordinary people and made his plays more like modern day sitcoms.
Tragedy: Tragedy dealt with love, loss, pride, the abuse of power and the relationships between people and the gods. In most tragedies the main protagonist commits some terrible crime without realizing how foolish and arrogant they have been. Then, as they slowly realize their error, the world crumbles around them. The three great playwrights of tragedy were Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.
Aristotle argued that tragedy cleansed the heart through pity and terror, purging us of our petty concerns and worries by making us aware that there can be nobility in suffering. He called this experience “catharsis”.
Satyr Plays: The Satyr plays were short plays which were performed between the acts of tragedies and made fun of the plight of the tragedy’s main characters. The satyrs were mythical half-human, half-goat figures and actors in these plays wore large phalluses for comic effect and relief. Few examples of these plays survive from ancient times.