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Oedipus Rex Unit Background. Greek Drama In General.

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Presentation on theme: "Oedipus Rex Unit Background. Greek Drama In General."— Presentation transcript:

1 Oedipus Rex Unit Background

2 Greek Drama In General

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

4 Conventions – Religion/Competition Based on mythology/history Based on mythology/history Performed in festivals to honor Dionysus Performed in festivals to honor Dionysus votes cast and prizes awarded (first, second, third, etc.) 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. 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 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 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 Section of Theatron, including restored entrance to stage left parados In Epidavros 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 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 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 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 Group varying from three to 50; believed to be 15 by the time of Sophocles Main commentators on character and events Main commentators on character and events Sung and danced in unison Sung and danced in unison Sometimes exchanged dialogue with main characters Sometimes exchanged dialogue with main characters Rarely spoke individually Rarely spoke individually

10 Conventions - Chorus Functions of the 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 probably designed to enhance projection allowed few actors to play multiple roles 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 ( ) Brief book by Greek philosopher and scientist, Aristotle ( ) Includes first and most influential analysis of drama Includes first and most influential analysis of drama Defines tragedy as an “imitation of life” Defines tragedy as an “imitation of life”

14 Aristotle’s Poetics Catharsis – an emotional purification or relief brought about by viewing the tragedy 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 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) 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 Anagnorisis – process of recognition, in which the protagonist sees his/her own nature and destiny more clearly than before

15 Aristotle’s Poetics ElementsofDrama Six elements of tragedy Six elements of tragedy In Aristotle’s order of importance 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” 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” 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” 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” Diction – “the expression of meaning in words” –Clear without being commonplace Song – simply, music Song – simply, music Spectacle – technical stagecraft 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 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 Parodos: the song sung by chorus as it first enters Episode: a scene 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 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 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. 496 B.C. (in Athens) to 406 B.C. Founded Thiasos of Muses (society for advancement of music and literature) Founded Thiasos of Muses (society for advancement of music and literature) Very active in politics of the new democracy Very active in politics of the new democracy Two sons: Iophon (with wife, Nicostrate), and illegitimate Ariston (with Theoris) Two sons: Iophon (with wife, Nicostrate), and illegitimate Ariston (with Theoris) “Theban Trilogy” – Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone (written first) “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 Stubborn and self-willed Reject advice Reject advice Cut off from family or society Cut off from family or society Pursue own purposes and form own identities 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 Setting: palace at Thebes over the course of a day Prologue Prologue –Details problem and steps Oedipus has taken to correct it Parodos Parodos –Chorus’ lament, and prayer to various Gods First Episode/Scene First Episode/Scene –Oedipus and Tiresias’ argument over prophecy First Stasimon/Ode First Stasimon/Ode –Chorus sides with Oedipus Second Episode/Scene Second Episode/Scene –Oedipus and Creon conflict –Jocasta tells her story Second Stasimon/Ode Second Stasimon/Ode –Choral response critical of Oedipus

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

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

28 Oedipus Rex – Historical Context Civil and Moral Unrest 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 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 Playwrights and Drama –Established traditions of comedy and tragedy –The Great Dionysia festival competition The Sophists 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 “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 Englert, Walter. “Ancient Greek Theater”. 28 Nov Johnson, William. “Oedipus The King, by Sophocles.” Fall Nov Johnson, William. “Oedipus The King, by Sophocles.” Fall Nov “Masks.” 27 Nov “Masks.” 27 Nov “Offerings Made Before the Image of Dionysus”. Dionysus. Fall 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 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 Siegel, Janice. “Dr. J’s Illustrated Greek Theater.” 27 Nov “Sophocles.” Ancient/Classical History Nov “Sophocles.” Ancient/Classical History Nov “Sophocles.” Perseus Encyclopedia. 28 Nov “Sophocles.” Perseus Encyclopedia. 28 Nov Stenudd, Stefan. “Aristotle’s Writing.” Stenudd, Stefan. “Aristotle’s Writing.” Trumbull, Eric W. “Ancient Greek Theatre.” Introduction to Theatre Nov Trumbull, Eric W. “Ancient Greek Theatre.” Introduction to Theatre Nov Weimelt, J. “The Classical Greek Chorus” 28 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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