Presentation on theme: "Greek Drama The Earliest of Representative Fiction."— Presentation transcript:
Greek Drama The Earliest of Representative Fiction
An Overview: The ancient Greeks invented the theatre and wrote and produced the earliest plays. Nearly fifty plays written by five of the earliest writers still exist Aeschylus Sophocles Euripides Aristophanes Many of them are still performed
How Theater Began The threshing floor: Greek villages had a flat round place where people brought the grain at harvest time and beat or threshed it to separate the grain from the outer husks. This threshing floor made a good place for open-air dancing and singing, and on special occasions the villagers might gather to watch their young men singing and dancing.
Religion as source of drama: The dances might be in honour of one of their gods, like Dionysus the god of wine, and the songs might tell stories of the god. According to CS Lewis this is a vital point in the development of fiction since it required the ability to envision action not in the literal but in the abstract. Happened again in the Middle Ages
More History Thespis The Greeks believed that a man named Thespis, who lived near Athens, was the first to act out a song in honor of Dionysus while the rest of the young men sang. Thespis is remembered as the very first actor, and the man who invented drama in about 534 BC.
Thespis was probably the first to add a masked player, who engages in dialogue with the chorus, to these performance The very first prize for tragedy went to Thespis (hence our word "thespian") in 534 BC.
Origins Origins of Athenian tragedy and comedy are obscure. The basic background is the existence, perhaps for centuries, of a chorus, with a leader, singing a song about some legendary hero; then the leader, instead of singing about the hero, began to impersonate him. Add spoken dialogue, and we have "tragedy" in the Greek form.
The further addition of a second actor (or perhaps the leader of a second chorus?) made action and on-stage conflict of views possible. The third actor is still not used by Aeschylus for three-way dialogue, but is silent on stage or is off-stage changing roles. Early tragedy may have been largely sung, like a cross between a modern oratorio and a modern opera.
The Plays: Actors Actors When there was only one actor, he had to wear different masks to show he was acting different people. Soon a second actor was used, and then a third, but there were hardly ever more than three actors in a Greek play.
The Plays: Types Types of Play: From the very beginning, plays were of three kinds: 1. Tragedies. These were serious plays, usually about gods and heroes from Greek myths; 2. Comedies. These were usually ridiculous, and often made fun of important people in Athens; 3. Satyr plays. These were short, funny plays, that the writers of tragedies made up to perform after the serious plays.
Greek Drama The hallmark of Greek Literature Greek comedy and tragedy developed out of choral performances in celebration of Dionysus, the god of wine and mystic ecstasy. Later Aeschylus added a second actor, creating the possibility for conflict and establishing the prototype for drama as we know it.
The seven plays of Aeschylus are the earliest documents in the history of Western theater. While Aeschylus's plays reflect Athens's heroic period, those by his younger contemporary Sophocles, especially Oedipus the King, reflect a culture that was reevaluating critically its accepted standards and traditions.
Even more so, Euripides's Medea is an ironic expression of Athenian disillusion. The work of the only surviving comic poet of the fifth century, Aristophanes in Lysistrata, combines poetry, obscenity, farce, and wit to satirize institutions and personalities of his time. Though parodic in tone, the work often carries serious undertones, thus adding to the rich diversity of writings from the ancient Greek world.
The Form: Strophe στροφή, turn, bend, twist, see also the term in versification which properly means a turn, as from one foot to another, or from one side of a chorus to the other. In its precise choral significance a strophe was a definite section in the structure of an ode.
The Form: Strophe--Continued In a more general sense, the strophe is a pair of stanzas of alternating form on which the structure of a given poem is based. In modern poetry the strophe usually becomes identical with the stanza, and it is the arrangement and the recurrence of the rhymes which give it its character. But the ancients called a combination of verse- periods a system, and gave the name strophe to such a system only when it was repeated once or more in unmodified form.
The Form: Antistrophe the portion of an ode which is sung by the chorus in its returning movement from west to east, in response the strophe, which was sung from east to west. It is of the nature of a reply, and balances the effect of the strophe.
The Form: Epode a verse form composed of two lines differing in construction and often in metre, the second shorter than the first. In Greek lyric odes, an epode is the third part of the three-part structure of the poem, following the strophe and the antistrophe. The word is from the Greek epoidós, “sung” or “said after.”
Sites Cited " antistrophe." Encyclopædia Britannica Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 6 Oct http://search.eb.com/eb/article “Ancient Greece and the Formation of the Western Mind” Norton Anthology Resources Oct. 31, "epode." Encyclopædia Britannica Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 6 Oct http://search.eb.com/eb/article
Hooker, Richard “Greek Drama.” 1996 World Civlizations An Internet Classroom and Anthology. Washington State University. Oct. 31, Parsons, David “Greek Theater” Classics Teaching Resources. 5 Oct http://www.parsonsd.co.uk/theatre/theatre_in dex.php