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Oedipus Rex Oedipus Tyranneus Oedipus The King. Historical background and structure – Translations – The original play was written in 430 BC – Many translations.

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Presentation on theme: "Oedipus Rex Oedipus Tyranneus Oedipus The King. Historical background and structure – Translations – The original play was written in 430 BC – Many translations."— Presentation transcript:

1 Oedipus Rex Oedipus Tyranneus Oedipus The King

2 Historical background and structure – Translations – The original play was written in 430 BC – Many translations made by Ancient Greek scholars over the years

3 Theater of Ancient Greece Ritualistic nature of the art form Roots are tied to the festivals honoring the gods The gods would often be characters in the plays Determining the fate of the characters Reflecting religious beliefs Legendary kings and heroes would also be characters Usually protagonists

4 Theater of Ancient Greece Significant events Business and daily activities were suspended Participation was a civic duty Important Not merely entertainment Instructional Device Originally performed on stone threshing floors Orchestra was moved to the foot of the temple of the god being honored

5 Physical structure of the theater Housed 15,000 people Acoustically perfect No painted scenery Hard to see the stage from top row seats Playwrights had to incorporate setting and some movements into actors’ lines



8 Actors Originally all the lines were spoken by the chorus Thespis – first actor, 534 BC – SPOKE as a god rather than SPOKE ABOUT a god Aeschylus (First of the Greek tragedians) – incorporated a second actor Sophocles (2 nd ) – Added a third actor Euripides (3 rd and last) – Employed the third actor # per scene

9 Actors Greek Actors – Highly regarded – Would be exempt from military duty to perform NO WOMEN – Young boys (before voice changed) would often play women – Often, women were not even allowed to see the plays If they did, they were in the seats furthest from the stage

10 Debate? Monologues Stichomythia – dialogue between two characters – Essentially a debate between two characters

11 Costumes Oversized and cumbersome – Developed grand gestures or movements that signified emotions Chiton – Long flowing robe usually linen or silk Cothurni – Platform shoes to add height

12 Props Heralds=wreaths Travelers=hats Kings=scepters Warriors=spears Elderly=sticks/canes

13 Masks Served as a megaphone Identified – Age, gender, mood, rank Allowed actors to play more than one scene Fully hooded Rested on the actor’s shoulders Made of bark, cork, leather, or linen Generalized features to represent EVERYMAN – The instructional message pertained to everyone

14 Masks The beautiful masks were for tragedy The grotesque and bizarre for comedy

15 Legend of Oedipus – Well known to Sophocles before he wrote – Well known to the audience as well – Heightens the dramatic irony – Oedipus first shows up in Homer’s Odyssey

16 Dramatic structure Generic – Conflict to crisis to resolution

17 Greek Drama Structure Prologos (Prologue) – Opening of the play Parados – Entrance song of the chorus – Named after the aisles from which the chorus enters Episodes (Scenes) – Action performed by the actors

18 Greek Drama Structure Stasimons (Odes) – Choral passages – Alternate with the scenes – Type of lyrical poem Dignified diction – Contained Strophes – the movement of the chorus in one direction Antistrophes – The movement of the chorus in the opposite direction

19 Greek Drama Structure Exodus – Conclusion – Chorus sings their final lines as they exit


21 Role of the Chorus – Evolved out of a chorus of individuals who recited dithyrambs (short poems) to the god, Dionysus. – Originally consisted of 50 men who sang and danced to music – Performing in the chorus was part of civic duty – Trained and costumed – Aeschylus’ Plays (12 men) – Often part of the action – Sophocles’ Plays (15 men) – Commentators – Euripides – Expressed the playwrights philosophical beliefs

22 Role of the Chorus Diminished in importance as Greek tragedy evolved Collective character Tangible, audible link between the audience and the central characters Provided a release from tension

23 Role of the Chorus At times advised central characters Often functioned as the conscience of the people Helped establish mood and heightened drama through movement and song Added theatricality Helped the pacing of the play

24 Role of the Chorus Pointed out moments the audience should reflect on the play or the lesson gleaned Could be in the play or outside of it – Direct participation – Commentary Separated one scene from another Usually a spokesperson for the chorus who interacted with the central characters – Choragos

25 Literary Devices Paradox

26 Paradox A seeming contradiction/A play on ideas Teiresias – Blind prophet with extraordinary powers of divination Oedipus – Physically can see (at the beginning) – Accused of being blind to the truth – Blinds himself at the end

27 Paradox Oedipus to Teiresias – You child of endless night. You can not hurt me or any other man who sees the sun. (p 1323, 360) Teiresias to Oedipus – Listen to me. You mock my blindness, do you? But I say that you, with both your eyes are blind. (p 1324, 398) – You do not even know the blind wrongs/that you have done [your parents] on earth and in the world below. (p 1325, 403-404 – But the double lash of your parents’ curse will whip you/Out of this land some day, with only night upon your precious eyes. (p 1325, 407) Oedipus blinds himself after discovering the truth.

28 Literary Devices Imagery – Mount Kithairon

29 Mount Kithairon Mountain is symbolic in Greek Literature – Represents man’s unattainable quest for perfection – Separates the distance between God and Man Image ever present in Oedipus’ search for identity

30 Mount Kithairon Rocky, hazardous climb to dangerous heights of disclosure for Oedipus (pinnacle of metaphors, eh?) Odes 2 & 3 remind the audience of the tragic fall from uncertain heights which is inevitable to the man who ignores the order of the universe

31 Mount Kithairon Supposed location of the Dionysian rites – Dionysius - God of fertility, harvest, wind Home of all foundlings (orphans) Oedipus is found there Oedipus returns there at the end to die where he was originally left to die which brings his life full circle

32 Quotes P. 1333 678 “And left him to die on a lonely mountainside.” P 1342 975 “I came upon you in the woody vales of Kithairon.” P 1344 1030 “Kithairon, now by Heaven I see…” P 1356 1038 “But let me go…to Kithairon…”

33 Literary Devices Imagery – Light vs.. Dark Day vs.. Night

34 Light vs. Dark P 1316 “I must bring what is dark to light” P 1327 “Laios’s dark death staining Oedipus the King.” P 1340 “the new prophesies in the light of the old.”

35 Day vs.. Night P 1318 193 “for the day ravages what the night spares” P 1323 359-360 “You child of total night! I would not touch you; Neither would any man who sees the sun.” P 1325 “Out of this land some day, with only night upon your precious eyes.”

36 Literary Devices Imagery – Sight vs.. blindness

37 Sight vs.. Blindness Oedipus to Teiresias P 1321 287/291 “Teiresias: seer…Blind though you are, you know the city lies sick…” P 1322 307 “Why are your eyes so cold?” P 1323 332 “if you had eyes” P 1323 352 “You sightless, witless, senseless, mad old man!” P 1323 359-360 “You total child of the night! I would not touch you; neither would anyone who sees the sun”

38 Sight vs.. Blindness Teiresias to Oedipus P 1322 323 “If you could only see the nature of your feelings” P 1323 352 “You can not see the evil.” P 1324 “…I say to you, with both your eyes, you are blind.” P 1326 439-440 “A blind man, who has his eyes now”

39 Sight vs.. Blindness Miscellaneous P 1313 25 “Your own eyes must tell you: Thebes tossed on a murdering sea” (Priest) P 1315 109 “I learned of him from others; I never saw him” (Oedipus) P 1332 638 “And in its [city] eyes I am just” (Kreon) P 1334 “I am not sure that the blind man can not see.” (Oedipus)

40 Irony A contrast between what appears to be and what actually exists, between what is expected and what is experienced. – Why? Heighten suspense Add humor Assist in character development/depth Assists foreshadowing

41 Irony Verbal Irony: when a character says one thing but means another – Teiresias says to Oedipus “I say that you, with both your eyes, are blind.” Oedipus can see, but Teiresias is referring to insight. Ironically, once Oedipus gains insight, he physically blinds himself.

42 Irony Situational Irony: what happens is different from what’s expected to happen – It is ironic that the murderer whom Oedipus seeks to cast from Thebes in order to lift the curse on the city is Oedipus, himself. – Teiresias, the prophet, is blind

43 Irony Dramatic Irony: The audience or reader is aware of information of which the characters are unaware – When Oedipus states “by avenging the murdered King I protect myself” or “until now I was a stranger to this tale, as I had been a stranger to the crime”

44 Tragedy Aristotle’s definition from Poetics – Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language that is embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation for these emotions Aristotle considered Oedipus Rex to be the perfect tragedy – Oedipus as a tragic play

45 Definition broken down 1. The writer of tragedy imitates a serious and complete action, of a certain magnitude, represented by what characters on stage say and do. 2. “Action” is the motivation from which deeds emanate, or the rational purpose of the play. 3. The element of pathos is essential to the whole. 4. Plot is that arrangement of carefully selected, carefully sequenced, tragic incidents to represent one complete action.

46 5. The plot consists of parts or types of incidents in the beginning, middle, and the end of the play. Quantitative Parts: Prologos, Parados, Episodes, Choric Odes, and Exodos. Organic Parts: Reversal/peripteia of the situation; Recognition/anagnorisis a change from ignorance to knowledge; Pathos/Scene of suffering a moment of passion 6.Plots vary by kind Complex vs. Simple Ethically motivated vs. Pathetically 7. The story must seem probable

47 8.Plot is divided into two main parts Complication – part of the play which extends from the Prologos to the turning point Unraveling or Denouement – part of the play which extends from the turning point to the end 9. A play can be unified only if it represents one action, and the best plays are unified by a single plot and a single catastrophe

48 10. The central action of the play springs from character and thought, manifested in the dialogue. 11. The chorus: most direction represents the action (or purpose) of the play 12. Characters should be carefully delineated to contrast sharply with one another, should be full of life individually, should vary ethically, should be probable, consistent, and should reflect the central action of the play in the development of the character

49 13.The tragic hero should be a ruler or a leader, whose character is good and whose misfortune is brought about by some error or frailty. 14.Language should be elevated in verse (which in 5 th century BC was similar to blank verse today) and should reflect rhetorical strategies of persuasion. 15.The special quality of man’s pleasure in tragedy comes from the purgation of the passions of fear and pity felt by the audience as they watch the fate of the tragic hero unfold, recognizing in it the universal human lot. HAMARTIA = TRAGIC FLAW

50 Themes Hubris (hybris) – excessive pride which leads to a fall How man deals with inevitable pain in his life will define his humanity No one is as blind as he who by the act of free will will not see Error and disaster can happen to anyone Human beings are relatively powerless before fate or the gods and that a cautious humility is the best attitude toward life.

51 Themes Human beings can demonstrate remarkable powers of intellectual depth and insight and have a great capacity for knowledge, but that even the smartest human being is inevitably going to err. Man is insignificant and flawed The desire and quest for understanding of the mysteries of the universe is a noble one

52 Importance Archetypal chronicle of human frailty, pride, and punishment The perfect tragedy in Aristotle’s mind

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