ORIGIN OF THEATER Thespis – Thespian –Father of drama –First known actor (530 BCE) –“Tragedy” comes from the Greek word “tragoida,” or “goat song”
FESTIVAL OF DIONYSUS Dionysus: Patron god of the stage. God of ecstasy, wine, agriculture March ll, 12, 13 th of each year 3 successive mornings –2 tragedies; 1 comedy Judges selected to vote on the BEST play Our man, Sophocles, won the most Admission free
CHARACTERISTICS OF GREEK THEATER Open air – hillside –Perfect acoustics Horseshoe shaped Seats up to 20,000 people First row – VIP section (priests, foreign dignitaries, judges) Altar for god Dionysus Theatron = public seats
Characteristics Cont’d Skene – dressing room/wooden backdrop –Special effects – lightning/thunder (scenes of violence generally off-stage) –Painted scenery –Place where gods emerged during play Proscenium = stage – action of the play Orchestra = music and dancing Parados – entrances
Characteristics Cont’d Chorus –From the Greek “Choros” -- “dance in a ring” –Oldest element of Greek theater –Played by wise men. Leader – “Choragus.” –Role of chorus changed over time. For Sophocles, chorus = commentator. Introduces new characters to audience Points out significant events as they occur
STRUCTURE OF THE PLAY Prologue –Opening scene –Background established Parodos –Entrance of the chorus Scenes –Also know as “Episodes”
Structure cont’d Ode –Sung by Chorus –Ends each scene Exodus –Final scene of play –Ceremonial exit
What makes a Tragedy? (Notes!!) The basic difference Aristotle draws between tragedy and other genres, such as comedy and the epic, is the "tragic pleasure of pity and fear" the audience feel watching a tragedy.
THE NATURE OF TRAGEDY (NOTES!!!) Sophrosyne (balance/moderation) Harmatia (Tragic Flaw) Nemesis (Goddess of retribution) Wisdom
WHAT IS A TRAGIC HERO? ARISTOTLE’S DEFINITION (Notes!!) Hero is responsible for his/her own downfall Hero is not the helpless victim of fate or someone else’s villainy Tragic flaw – fundamental character weakness –Pride –Ambition –Jealousy
Tragic Hero cont’d (Notes!!) Hero comes to recognize by the end of the play his/her own error Hero accepts tragic consequences He/She does not curse fate, but is HUMBLED and ENLIGHTENED by it Hero is not completely good nor completely bad, but somewhere in the middle
WHO IS SOPHOCLES? 495-406 BCE (Notes!!) Traditional Greek education –Music –Poetry –Dance –Gymnastics –Mathematics
SOPHOCLES cont’d Prolific writer –120 plays –Won FIRST place at Festival of Dionysus 18 times –Only 7 of his plays remain in their entirety Most admired by Athenian people Genius Long life and good health Handsome and rich
SOPHOCLES cont’d Time of death during Pelopponesian War –Athens and Sparta – truce so poet could be buried in family’s tomb outside city
SOPHOCLES’ BELIEFS (Notes!!) Concentrated on the ACTIONS of the Greek characters Certain amount of suffering was inevitable in life No man is perfect – tragic flaw in the best of men which causes them to make mistakes So, he focused on ways in which men REACT to suffering HOW IS GREATNESS DISPLAYED??? –By men experiencing great tragedy without WHINING!
PART THREE OF A TRILOGY OEDIPUS OEDIPUS AT COLONNUS ANTIGONE
ANCIENT GREEK BURIAL RITES Time of death – body became impure –Rites of burying or burning transformed body from an IMPURE state to a PURE state Woman’s Role in the burial process: –Duty –Privilege Purification process –Washing and anointing the body with oil –Gashes filled with flour substance –Body is wrapped in shroud
Burial Rites, Cont’d Purification Process was so important that historically, there were many battles fought over the body of a fallen warrior. Being left on the battlefield to be devoured by birds (“Carrion”) and other animals reduced the warrior’s status to that of an animal. Recovering a warrior’s body was vital if he were to retain his glory and remain within the memory of his community.