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Oedipus Rex Unit Background.

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Presentation on theme: "Oedipus Rex Unit Background."— Presentation transcript:

1 Oedipus Rex Unit Background

2 Greek Drama In General

3 Conventions of Greek Drama
Religion/Competition Outdoor Theater (Amphitheater) Chorus/Stylized Masks

4 Conventions – Religion/Competition
Based on mythology/history Performed in festivals to honor Dionysus votes cast and prizes awarded (first, second, third, etc.) Sophocles wrote 123 plays during his lifetime; 24 won first prize and the rest won second.

5 Conventions - Amphitheater
Theater of Dionysus in Athens

6 Parts of a Greek Theater
Orchestra – normally circular; chorus used this space to sing, dance, interact with actors on the stage Theatron – spectator section; usually part of hillside sloping down toward orchestra; often wrapped around large portion of orchestra; held 14,000 to 15,000 spectators Above Section of Theatron, including restored entrance to stage left parados In Epidavros

7 Parts of a Greek Theater
Skene – building behind the stage; usually decorated as setting (temple, palace); had at least one set of doors; access to roof Proskenion – wide shallow stage in front of the skene Parodos – paths by which chorus and some actors (messengers, travelers) enter and exit the stage; used by audience to enter/exit theater

8 Conventions - Amphitheater
South Slope of the Theater of Dionysus Athens

9 Conventions - Chorus Group varying from three to 50; believed to be 15 by the time of Sophocles Main commentators on character and events Sung and danced in unison Sometimes exchanged dialogue with main characters Rarely spoke individually

10 Conventions - Chorus Functions of the Chorus
An agent to give advice, ask questions, take part in the action Establish ethical framework, and set up the standard by which the action will be judged Ideal spectator – reacts as playwright hopes the audience would Sets mood and heightens dramatic effects Adds movement, spectacle, song, and dance Rhythmical function – pauses/paces the action so that the audience can reflect

11 Conventions - Masks probably designed to enhance projection
allowed few actors to play multiple roles only three actors for each play (debatable) all performers were men

12 Greek Tragedy In Particular

13 Aristotle’s Poetics Brief book by Greek philosopher and scientist, Aristotle ( ) Includes first and most influential analysis of drama Defines tragedy as an “imitation of life”

14 Aristotle’s Poetics Catharsis – an emotional purification or relief brought about by viewing the tragedy Hubris – reckless pride, sometimes brought about by a belief the protagonist has that s/he is above the fates or in control of destiny Hamartia – a character fault or mistake (like an Achilles heel rather than a flaw for which s/he can be held directly responsible) Anagnorisis – process of recognition, in which the protagonist sees his/her own nature and destiny more clearly than before

15 Aristotle’s Poetics Elements of Drama Six elements of tragedy
In Aristotle’s order of importance Subject Matter Plot Character Thought Language and Performance Diction Song Spectacle

16 Poetics Elements – Subject Matter
Plot – “the sole of tragedy” arrangement of the incidents to include a beginning, a middle, and an end Character – hero is “above the common level” should stress morality, be appropriate, be true to life, and be consistent Thought – is found “where something is proved to be or not to be, or a general maxim is enunciated” main idea or concept that characters make concrete in action of the drama Example: “Count no man happy till he dies, free of pain at last.” (stated by chorus at the end of Oedipus Rex)

17 Poetics Elements – Language and Performance
Diction – “the expression of meaning in words” Clear without being commonplace Song – simply, music Spectacle – technical stagecraft “The spectacle has, indeed, an emotional attraction of its own, but of all the parts, it is the least artistic, and connected least with the art of poetry… The production of spectacular effects depends more on the art of the stage machinist than on that of the poet.”

18 Greek Tragedy - Structure
Prologue: spoken by one or two characters before the chorus appears; usually gives background necessary for understanding the events of the play Parodos: the song sung by chorus as it first enters Episode: a scene Stasimon/Ode: chorus dances and sings after other characters have exited; usually reflects on play’s action and puts it into some kind of larger mythological framework Exodos: chorus exits singing a processional song which typically offers words of wisdom related to actions and outcome of the play

19 Sophocles In General

20 Sophocles 496 B.C.(in Athens) to 406 B.C.
Founded Thiasos of Muses (society for advancement of music and literature) Very active in politics of the new democracy Two sons: Iophon (with wife, Nicostrate), and illegitimate Ariston (with Theoris) “Theban Trilogy” – Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone (written first)

21 Sophocles – Characteristics of Plays
emphasis on individual characters reduced role of chorus complex characters, psychologically well-motivated characters subjected to crisis leading to suffering and self-recognition - including a higher law above man exposition carefully motivated scenes suspensefully climactic action clear and logical poetry clear and beautiful few elaborate visual effects theme emphasized: the choices of people

22 Sophocles – “Sophoclean Heroes”
Stubborn and self-willed Reject advice Cut off from family or society Pursue own purposes and form own identities

23 Oedipus Rex In Particular

24 Oedipus Rex - Overview

25 Oedipus Rex – Dramatic Structure
Setting: palace at Thebes over the course of a day Prologue Details problem and steps Oedipus has taken to correct it Parodos Chorus’ lament, and prayer to various Gods First Episode/Scene Oedipus and Tiresias’ argument over prophecy First Stasimon/Ode Chorus sides with Oedipus Second Episode/Scene Oedipus and Creon conflict Jocasta tells her story Second Stasimon/Ode Choral response critical of Oedipus

26 Oedipus Rex – Dramatic Structure
Third Episode/Scene Jocasta appeals to gods Corinthian messenger arrives with news Third Stasimon/Ode Chorus appeals to Dionysus Fourth Episode/Scene Shepherd is brought Oedipus realizes his identity Fourth Stasimon/Ode Chorus expresses pity for Oedipus Exodos Messenger reports fates of Jocasta and Oedipus Creon banishes Oedipus Choral Leader censures people

27 Oedipus Rex – Thematic Topics
Knowledge and Ignorance Public vs. Private Life Choices and Consequences

28 Oedipus Rex – Historical Context
Civil and Moral Unrest City-states competing for trade, commerce, artistic superiority 429 B.C. - great plague kills 2/3 population of Athens Democracy and Government Full citizenship given only to men Women and slaves followed different code of conduct

29 Oedipus Rex – Historical Context
Playwrights and Drama Established traditions of comedy and tragedy The Great Dionysia festival competition The Sophists Group broke with tradition Focused more on the study of the actions of humankind than on standard legends of gods and goddesses

30 Works Cited Abel, Lisa, ed. Theatre: Art in Action. Lincolnwood: National Textbook Company, , “Ancient Greek Theater.” 27 Nov <> Best, Michael. “Greek Terms Used in Tragedy.” Shakespeare's Life and Times Nov <>. Englert, Walter. “Ancient Greek Theater”. 28 Nov <> Johnson, William. “Oedipus The King, by Sophocles.” Fall Nov <> “Masks.” 27 Nov <> “Offerings Made Before the Image of Dionysus”. Dionysus. Fall Nov <> Reynolds, Will. “The Republican Chorus.” Online blog. Where there’s a Will, there’s a way. 3 Nov Nov <> Siegel, Janice. “Dr. J’s Illustrated Greek Theater.” 27 Nov <> “Sophocles.” Ancient/Classical History Nov <> “Sophocles.” Perseus Encyclopedia. 28 Nov < &layout=&loc=sophocles> Stenudd, Stefan. “Aristotle’s Writing.” <> Trumbull, Eric W. “Ancient Greek Theatre.” Introduction to Theatre Nov <> Weimelt, J. “The Classical Greek Chorus” 28 Nov <>

31 strophe Greek: turn, bend, twist
forms the first part of the ode in Ancient Greek tragedy "strophe, antistrophe and epode were a kind of stanza framed only for the music," with the strophe chanted by a Greek chorus as it moved from right to left across the scene. (John Milton)

32 antistrophe Greek: a turning back
the portion of an ode sung by the chorus in its returning movement from west to east, in response to the strophe, which was sung from east to west has the nature of a reply and balances the effect of the strophe

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