Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance: a play performed in a theatre, or on radio or television. Considered as a genre of poetry in general, the dramatic mode has been contrasted with the epic and the lyrical modes ever since Aristotle's Poetics (c. 335 BC)—the earliest work of dramatic theory. The term "drama" comes from a Greek word meaning "action" (Classical Greek: δρᾶμα, drama), which is derived from "I do" (Classical Greek: δράω, drao). The two masks associated with drama represent the traditional generic division between comedy and tragedy. They are symbols of the ancient Greek Muses, Thalia, and Melpomene. Thalia was the Muse of comedy (the laughing face), while Melpomene was the Muse of tragedy (the weeping face). In English (as was the analogous case in many other European languages), the word "play" or "game" (translating the Anglo-Saxon plèga or Latin ludus) was the standard term used to describe drama until William Shakespeare's time—just as its creator was a "play-maker" rather than a "dramatist" and the building was a "play-house" rather than a "theatre". The use of "drama" in a more narrow sense to designate a specific type of play dates from the modern era. "Drama" in this sense refers to a play that is neither a comedy nor a tragedy—for example, Zola's Thérèse Raquin (1873) or Chekhov's Ivanov (1887).
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