Thespis thĕsˈpĭs [key], fl. 534 b.c., of Icaria in Attica. In Greek tradition, he was the inventor of tragedy. Almost nothing is known of his life or works. He is supposed to have modified the dithyramb (which had been, in effect, exchanges between the leader and the chorus) by introducing an actor separate from the chorus. This actor was called the hypocrite or “responder.” Thus there developed a spoken dialogue.

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