tragedy, Word stories

Every death is an absolute goat song

Tragedy - goat song

Next time you call someone’s sudden death a tragedy, you may be delving into the wholly inappropriate territory of comedy.

Because funnily enough, the word tragedy is Greek for ‘goat song’. The actual Greek word is tragoidia. (Tragos = ‘goat’. Oidia = ‘song’.)

Tragos oidia - goat song

You see, ancient Greek plays were semi-religious affairs. And since religion seems to go hand in hand with death, naturally this meant a goat had to be sacrificed. (To the god of wine, of all people.)

Then the chorus would sing a song of sacrifice.

A ‘goat song’.

Some actors would act the goat too. Or half the goat anyway. They’d dress up as satyrs. These were men from the waist up, and goats the rest of the way down.

For a reason that’s now lost in the mists of time, the main event took on the name of the curtain raiser.


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