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Greek and Roman Theatre. Greek Theatre Greek Festivals  Festivals honored Olympian gods  Ritual Competitions  Olympics: Apollo  Athletics  Lyric.

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Presentation on theme: "Greek and Roman Theatre. Greek Theatre Greek Festivals  Festivals honored Olympian gods  Ritual Competitions  Olympics: Apollo  Athletics  Lyric."— Presentation transcript:

1 Greek and Roman Theatre

2 Greek Theatre

3 Greek Festivals  Festivals honored Olympian gods  Ritual Competitions  Olympics: Apollo  Athletics  Lyric Poetry  Drama: Dionysos  Dithyrambic Choruses  Tragedy  Comedy

4 Greek Theatre  6th - 4th century bce  Originated in festivals honoring Dionysos  Tragedy:  Aeschylus (524-456 bce)  Sophocles (496-406 bce)  Euripides (480-406 bce)  Comedy:  Old Comedy: bawdy and satiric  Aristophanes (c. 485-c.385 bce)  New Comedy: social situations:  Menander (342-292 bce)

5 Theatre Festivals  The Greater Dionysia took place at the end of March or the beginning of April  Three days were given over to theatrical competition.  Three playwrights each took part in each contest  Each tragedian put on a trilogy in the morning and each comic writer put on one comedy in the afternoon.  The festival at Lenaes,staged at the end of January or the beginning of February, placed its emphasis on comedy



8 Theatre at Epidaurus

9 Curved seats may have aided acoustics

10 ACTORS  No tragedy used more than 3 actors  All actors were male  Costumes included character masks, and, in later years, raised boots  Acting must have more expressive than realistic

11 Greek Theatre Masks

12 THE CHORUS: the voice of the citizens

13 ORIGINS of TRAGEDY  Tragedy, derived from the Greek words tragos (goat) and ode (song), told a story that was intended to teach religious lessons  Tragedy arose from dithyrambic choruses.  The dithyramb was an ode to Dionysus.  It was usually performed by a chorus of fifty men dressed as satyrs -- mythological half-human, half-goat servants of Dionysus.  In the 6 th c. bce Thespis of Attica added an actor who interacted with the chorus. This actor was called the protagonist.  In 534 BC, the ruler of Athens, Pisistratus, changed the Dionysian Festivals and instituted drama competitions. Thespis won the first competition in 534 BC.

14 Dionysus and Satyr

15 Tragic Tetralogies  Each tragic dramatist had to present a trilogy of tragedies: connected narratively or dramatically  The entire trilogy was performed in one day.  The trilogy was followed by a satyr play - mocking and lightening the seriousness of the tragedies  A Tetralogy, then, is a series of 4 plays: 3 tragedies and one satyr play

16 TRAGIC STRUCTURE 4-5 alternating scenes and choral odes, including the PROLOGOS: Introductory scene PARADOS: Entry of chorus EPISODEION STASIMON PAEAN: a hymn of praise to the gods EXODOS: final scene EPODE: final ode.

17 ARISTOTLE’S THREE UNITIES  Aristotle’s On Tragedy is usually considered the first piece of Western dramatic criticism. In it, he proclaimed that tragedy must follow the 3 unities:  UNITY OF TIME: one day  UNITY OF PLACE: one setting  UNITY OF ACTION: one plot

18 Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy

19 AESCHYLUS 525-456 bce  General in Persian Wars -- fought at Marathon, Salamis, Platea  Fierce proponent of Athenian ideals  The first of the great Athenian dramatists, was also the first to express the agony of the individual caught in conflict.  Credited with adding the second actor  Only extant trilogy: The Oresteia  Agamemnon  The Libation Bearers  The Eumenides

20 SOPHOCLES 496 - 406 bce  Wrote over 100 plays, but only seven survive  Credited with adding the third actor  Known as actor as well as dramatist  Most interested in human dynamics  THEBAN PLAYS:  Oedipus the King  Antigone  Oedipus at Colonnus

21 EURIPIDES c.480-406 bce  The last of the thee great Greek tragic dramatists -- 17 plays survive including Medea, The Trojan Women, The Bacchae  Explored the theme of personal conflict within the polis and the depths of the individual  Disgust with events of Peloponnesian War brought about disillusionment with Athens  Men and women bring disaster on themselves because their passions overwhelm their reason

22 TRAGIC ACTION ARETE, ARISTEIA: excellence HUBRIS: arrogance HAMARTIA: fatal mistake PERIPETEIA: reversal of fortune ANAGNORISIS: understanding KATHARSIS

23 Roman mosaic of Aeschylus and Satyr play cast

24 Orestes Pursued by the Furies (1862) Adolphe- William Bouguereau (1825-1905) Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia The Oresteia

25 The Oresteia The Curse: Blood Grudge

26 Pompeian wall painting: Sacrifice of Iphigenia with Agamemnon and Calchas

27 Clytemnestra’s Revenge

28 Orestes and Electra at Delphi

29 The Vengeance of Orestes

30 Orestes Pursued by the Furies (1862) Adolphe- William Bouguereau (1825-1905) Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia The Erinyes

31 The Judgement of Athena: the substitution of trial by jury for vengeance in Athenian law

32 The Eumenides  The Furies are made "honorary citizens" of Athens  Athena agrees to have her people, the Athenians, celebrate the Furies  The Furies turn their stygian black cloaks inside out to reveal a scarlet inner lining  Aeschylus creates a bold theatrical vision of peace and divine justice bestowed for its mercy upon a deserving land.

33 Ancient Comedy Scene from Lenaian Festival c. 490-480 bce

34 ORIGINS of GREEK OLD COMEDY  Arose from komos : songs of revelry, charms to avert evil, prayers for fertility sung to Dionysus  Chorus dressed ludicrously  Audience responded to choral komos and were gradually admitted into chorus  Chorus became two-part group with antiphonal song  Invention of comic chorus is attributed to Susarion  Dorian and Sicilian farces were precursors of Old Comedy

35 CONVENTIONS of OLD COMEDY  Scene set on Athenian street  “Events seldom occur – they are merely talked about”  Masks and fantastic costumes  Satiric of contemporary events and public figures  Bawdy

36 Scene from Aristophanes’ The Frogs


38 COMIC STRUCTURE Komos: final choral song and exit in wild revelry 4-5 alternating scenes and choral odes illustrating the outcome of the agon Prologos: introductory scene Parados: entry of 24 member chorus dressed in fantastic costume Agon: argument “just prior to the agon, the leader of the chorus always asks one contender to present his argument, and it is this contender who always loses” Parabasis: chorus’s great song Episodeion Stasimon

39 ARISTOPHANES c. 448 - 380 BCE  30+ plays; 11 extant; 6 first prizes  Plays include  Clouds  Wasps  Birds  Lysistrata  Frogs  Critiques of Euripides & Socrates: reactionary conservative; social critic  Plato's epitaph for Aristophanes : “The Graces, seeking a shrine that could not fall, discovered the soul of Aristophanes.”

40 The Birds

41 New Comedy  By 317 BC, a new form had evolved that resembled modern farces: mistaken identities, ironic situations, ordinary characters and wit.  Basic plot: Boy meets girl, complications arise, boy gets girl – ends with betrothal or marriage.  5 act structure: acts divided by interludes performed by the chorus  Stock characters: young lovers, parasite, lecherous old men, clever servants, etc.  Social rather than political satire


43 Terracotta figurines of New Comedy actors

44 MENANDER 342-292 bce  1905 a manuscript was discovered in Cairo that contained pieces of five Menander plays, and in 1957 a complete play, Diskolos (The Grouch, 317 BC), was unearthed in Egypt.  Menander’s comedy with its emphasis on mistaken identity, romance and situational humor, became the model for subsequent comedy, from the Romans to Shakespeare to Broadway.

45 Mosaic of Menander’s Samia

46  Parts of Menander’s comedies found their way into plays by  Roman playwrights: Plautus and Terence  Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors  Stephen Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

47 Roman Theatre

48 ROMAN THEATRE  Drama flourished under the Republic but declined into variety entertainment under the Empire  Roman festivals: Held in honor of the gods, but much less religious than in Greece  Ludi Romani Became theatrical in 364 B.C. Held in September (the autumn)and honored Jupiter. By 240 B.C., both comedy and tragedy were performed.  Five others: Ludi Florales (April), Plebeii (November), Apollinares (July), Megalenses (April), Cereales (no particular season).

49 Under the Empire, these festivals afforded "bread and circuses" to the masses – many performances. —including a series of plays or events. Acting troupes (perhaps several a day) put on theatre events.

50 ROMAN THEATRE  Encompassed more than drama : acrobatics, gladiators, jugglers, athletics, chariots races, naumachia (sea battles), boxing, venationes (animal fights)  Entertainment tended to be grandiose, sentimental, diversionary  Actors / performers were called histriones Fresco with theatre masks

51 INFLUENCES on Roman Theatre  Greek Drama – borrowed plots and stories: less philosophical  Etruscan influences – emphasized circus-like elements  Fabula Atellana – Atellan farces (town near Naples).  Short improvised farces, with stock characters, similar costumes and masks  based on domestic life or mythology – burlesqued, parodied  popular during the 1 st century B.C., then declined  may have influenced commedia dell ‘Arte


53 Roman Theatre Design  First permanent Roman theatre built 54 ce (100 years after the last surviving comedy) So permanent structures came from periods after significant writing  More that 100 permanent theatre structures by 550 ce.  Built on level ground with stadium-style seating (audience raised)  Could seat 10-15,000 people  Awning over the audience to protect them from the sun  During the Empire around 78 ce, cooling system installed– air blowing over streams of water

54 Artist’s Impression of the Roman Theatre of Verulamium : Britain circa CE 180, excavated in 1847 by Alan Sorrell

55 Roman Theatre Design  Skene becomes scaena – joined with audience to form one architectural unit  S tages raised to five feet, 20-40 feet deep, 100- 300 feet long,  3-5 doors in rear wall and at least one in the wings  scaena frons – façade of the stage house – had columns, niches, porticoes, statues – painted  stage was covered with a roof  trap doors were common  Orchestra becomes half-circle  Paradoi become vomitorium into orchestra and audience

56 Theatre of Marcellus (drawing)

57 Theatre of Pompeii (model)

58 TYPES of Roman Theatre  Roman Drama : 2nd c. bc - 4th c. ce  Livius Andronicus – 240 – 204 B.C. – wrote, translated, or adapted comedies and tragedies, the first important works in Latin. Little is known, but he seems to have been best at tragedy.  Gnaeus Naevius – 270-201 B.C. excelled at comedy, but wrote both  Both helped to "Romanize" the drama by introducing Roman allusions into the Greek originals and using Roman stories.


60 ROMAN COMEDY  Chorus was abandoned  No act or scene divisions  Songs  Everyday domestic affairs: Boy meets girl, complications, boy gets girl: marriage  Action placed in the street  Bawdy  Stock characters  Only two playwrights' material survives:  Plautus (c. 254-184 bce)  Terence (195 or 185-159 bce)

61 Thalia, the Muse Of Comedy

62 STOCK CHARACTERS  Senex: old man in authority  Pappas: foolish old man  Bucco: braggart, boisterous  Miles gloriosus: braggart soldier  Dossenus: swindler, drunk, hunchback  Shrew: sharp-tongued woman  Courtesan  Clever servant  Young Lovers

63 PLAUTUS Titus Maccius Plautus c. 254-184 B.C.E.  21 extant plays including Pot of Gold, The Menaechmi, Braggart Warrior -- probably between 205-184 B.C.  All based on Greek New Comedies  Added Roman allusions, Latin dialog, varied poetic meters, witty jokes  Some techniques:  Stychomythia – dialog with short lines, like a tennis match  Slapstick  Songs

64 TERENCE Publius Terenius Afer (195 or 185-159 B.C.E.)  Born in Carthage, came to Rome as a boy slave, educated and freed  The Afer in his name may indicate that he was an African, and therefore he may have been the first major black playwright in western theater.  Six plays, all of which survive including The Brothers, Mother-in- Law, etc.  More complex plots – combined stories from Greek originals.  Character and double-plots were his forte – contrasts in human behavior  Less boisterous than Plautus, less episodic, more elegant language.  Less popular than Plautus.

65 Roman Tragedy  None survive from the early period, and only one playwright from the later period: Seneca  5 act structure – later adopted by Elizabethans  Elaborate speeches -- rhetorical influence  Interest in morality – expressed in sententiae (short pithy generalizations about the human condition) Medea, Herculaneum c. 70 bce

66 SENECA  Roman philosopher, orator, dramatist and statesman  Nine extant tragedies, five adapted from Euripides:The Trojan Women, Medea, Oedipus, Agamemnon  Suicide in 65 A.D.– at the orders of Nero  Seneca had a strong effect on later dramatists.  Uncertain whether Seneca's plays were actually performed or simply intended for recitation before a small private audience: closet dramas Lucius Annaeus Seneca (5 or 4 B.C.E.– 65 C.E.)

67 Contemporary performance of Medea

68 Senecan Conventions  Violence and horror onstage (Jocasta rips open her womb, for example)  Characters dominated by a single passion – such as revenge – drives them to doom: known as Senecan Revenge tragedies during Renaissance.  Technical devices:  Soliloquies and asides  Confidants take the place of the chorus  Ghosts: interest in supernatural and human connections

69 Roman Spectacle  Gladiatorial combats  Chariot races  Naumachia: Naval battles in a flooded Coliseum  “Real-life” theatricals  Decadent, violent and immoral  All theatrical events banned by Church when Rome became Christianized

70 The End

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