An Overview Introductory Notes to Antigone Greek Tragedy
FORM & STYLE Performances in a Greek tragedy involved a great deal of ritual Religious in nature/theater was a temple Ceremonial; music played an important role in the performances
Sequence A. Prologue: a scene that introduces the conflict of the play 1. Sophocles’ contemporaries often included a monologue in which a character delivers the necessary background directly to the audience. B. Parados: followed the prologue/ marked the entrance of the Chorus.* The parados is an example of a choral ode. 1. These odes supply exposition, comment on action, and contribute to thematic development. 2. Odes can also suggest the passage of time. C. Scenes/Odes: Following the parados, scenes alternate with odes throughout the play. D. Paean – a hymn/prayer asking for divine intervention E. Exodos: the final scene *Chorus: The group often interacts with principal characters, engaging in dialogue. *Choragos: Chorus leader (often speaks for the entire chorus in these moments)
Stylistic Devices A. Greek Drama is compact. 1. action is limited to one setting and to a single day 2. few digressions; play moves swiftly and directly. Plot is often compressed. B. Offstage Action is very important. For example, the Greeks made no attempts to portray violence on stage. Consequently, the messenger becomes an important figure in Sophocles’ plays and other Greek playwrights. 1. Messenger acts as a traditional figure of exposition--the witness who comes to tell others of events that have transpired elsewhere.
Greek View of the World A. Man 1. Is limited, ruled by fate and the gods 2. Is nevertheless dignified 3. Must be resigned to his own limitations: when divine and human purposes conflict, the gods are supreme B. Hero 1. A man who lives for honor and renown 2. A life which is courageous and glorious 3. Life’s climax is a great and noble death, preferably in the service of the city or state 4. The tragic hero contributes to his own misfortune, even through his intelligence, courage and honor
Greek View of the World C. Gods 1. Occupy the same kind of world as the Greeks themselves 2. Send suffering and evil 3. Bring the downfall of the tragic hero 4. Constant tension between free will (men) and necessity (gods and fate) D. Suffering 1. Brings knowledge 2. Shows us the greater world beyond mere human concerns E. Greek Belief on Burial 1. An unburied body meant the soul would be eternally tormented. The soul would be in unrest and could not enter Hades.
Aristotle’s Tragic Hero A. Noble Birth B. Fall from power and happiness due to a tragic flaw in their nature, usually pride 1. tragic flaw is hubris (pride) - a belief that one can be somehow greater than the gods 2. an offense often committed in ignorance C. Tragedy Produces Catharsis 1. Purging of emotions - Aristotle believed that a fine tragedy produces a catharsis when the tragedy arouses pity and terror, thereby cleansing the audience D. Ends with unhappy catastrophe (not necessarily the death of the tragic hero)
Aristotle’sTragic Hero (cont.) E. Tragic Hero 1. is neither completely good nor bad 2. suffers through miscalculation 3. has a great reputation and good fortune; suffers a dramatic change in fortune 4. sets himself or herself above or equal to the gods 5. climax is the hero’s recognition of error and subsequent fall to destruction
Plot Structure Exposition – Prologue & Parados Rising Action – Scenes & Odes Climax (tragic hero’s recognition – near the end) Falling Action – lines right before last stanza Denouement/Resolution (last stanza by Chorus)
Aristotle’s Six Elements of Drama Plot (the incidents and story line) Character (physical, social, psychological, moral –people represented in the play) Thought/Theme (insights into humanity/life) Music (all sound) Spectacle ( scenery and other visual elements) Diction/Language (the dialogue and poetry) Refer to the excerpt from “Aristotle on Tragedy”
More Terms/Definitons Protagonist – hero or heroine (who story is about) Antagonist – person or thing that is working against the hero (like an enemy or weakness of character) There may be more than one protagonist, but there is only one tragic hero!
Terms/Definitions (cont.) Satyr Play – Greek Comedy: a humorous performance presented in Athenian dramatic contests, following a trilogy of tragedies. A chorus of “satyrs,” men dressed in horses’ tails and ears or dressed as goats and the like performed often lewd acts similar to what we call burlesque today
Early Greek Playwrights Thespis – credited with being the first “actor” to step out of the Chorus and speak alone Aeschylus – earliest Greek tragedy playwright – added 2 nd actor Sophocles – added 3 rd actor