Choragus (Gr. chorus, dance, and to lead), a functionary among the ancient Athenians who paid the expenses attendant on the equipment and instruction of a chorus. Originally, the chorus in dramatic representations was selected from the citizens of the state; but, as music and dancing became more artistic, there arose the distinction between spectators and performers. Salaried artists were employed, and at length the entire superintendence of all the details of a theatrical representation was intrusted to a single individual, called the choragus, who was selected by the state, and upon whom rested all the expenses incurred in bringing out the show. Each of the ten tribes furnished a chorus of dancers and musicians, and chose a citizen to fulfil the duties of choragus. The person thus elected immediately assembled the performers, gave them an instructor, furnished them with costumes, and, during the time of their training, supported them at his own expense, providing them only with such food and drink as would strengthen or improve the voice. The choragi drew lots for the choice of teachers; for, as their credit depended upon the success of their chorus in the dramatic or lyrical contests, the selection of the instructor became a matter of great importance.
The office of choragus was one of high dignity; for religion and art, and the rivalry between tribes and states, exalted the Athenian imagination; and the choragus who was adjudged to have exhibited the best entertainment received as a prize a tripod, which was ceremoniously consecrated in the temples, and on which was inscribed the name of the victorious choragus and of his tribe. There was a whole street at Athens formed by the line of these tripod temples. The term choragus came in time to signify a person who supplied the costs for any purpose.