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Agamemnon Reconstructed 1. 2 Aeschylus playwright, librettist, composer, choreographer, producer, and chief actor born 525/4 BCE, member of Athenian nobility.

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Presentation on theme: "Agamemnon Reconstructed 1. 2 Aeschylus playwright, librettist, composer, choreographer, producer, and chief actor born 525/4 BCE, member of Athenian nobility."— Presentation transcript:

1 Agamemnon Reconstructed 1

2 2 Aeschylus playwright, librettist, composer, choreographer, producer, and chief actor born 525/4 BCE, member of Athenian nobility fought Persians under Darius at Marathon, Salamis, and Platea author of about 70 plays first victory wins (52 plays in 13 trilogies with satyr plays)

3 Agamemnon Reconstructed 3 Aeschylus's Subjects like Phrynichus used historical subjects, closely related to public issues particularly etiological subjects which explain origins of social, political, religious customs patriliny foundation of a system of justice under law

4 Agamemnon Reconstructed 4 Other Features early user of prologue added new features: female characters, 2nd actor, trilogy? Made use of 3rd actor, added first by Sophocles simple plots little intrigue little concealed identity thus few recognition scenes

5 Agamemnon Reconstructed 5 Emphasizes theatrical effects processions magnificent costumes men-at-arms chariots, cars trumpets gods, demons, ghosts graves, altars later plays: machines, stage devices

6 Agamemnon Reconstructed 6 Agamemnon first play of Orestia, trilogy about Orestes written, performed 458 BCE at Athens only surviving Greek trilogy tragedies of Libation Bearers, Eumenidies followed day ended with Proteus, a satyr play Menelaus consults the old man of the sea focus is (initial) consequences of Agamemnon's error

7 Agamemnon Reconstructed 7 Agamemnon a typical tragedy Plot of exceptional suffering and calamity Characters ones-like- ourselves Thought nature of human nature conditions of human life consequences of wrongdoing or sin

8 Agamemnon Reconstructed 8 Plot serious threat to life or well-being of protagonist carried out usually death of tragic protagonist

9 Agamemnon Reconstructed 9 Characters one like ourselves, basically good, but prone to error own error contributes to his disaster internal conflict often a fatal tendency to pride or one-sidedness--blind on other sides highly placed fate bound up with that of polis so consequences extend beyond protagonist and/or family

10 Agamemnon Reconstructed 10 (Almost) Typical in form: Prologue Parados Episodes divided by choral odes No Exodos

11 Agamemnon Reconstructed 11 Performance Circumstances festival situation of City Dionysia (others Lenea, Rural Dionysias) state support also support of wealthy patrons (choregoi)

12 Agamemnon Reconstructed 12 State support theatre prizes poets' honoraria actors fees, costumes

13 Agamemnon Reconstructed 13 Choregos civic, religious duty and privilege chorus fee, training, costumes flute player extras, as for the procession

14 Agamemnon Reconstructed 14 Production Process festival controlled by chief civil magistrate choregoi chosen by lot in July poet cast actors (until 449) trained chorus, including choreography and singing conducted rehearsals played lead

15 Agamemnon Reconstructed 15 City Dionysia of 458 BCE March or early April procession of cult statue from temple to Academy sacrifices, rituals two days of dithyrambs, ending with processions and revels five comedies three days of tragedies with satyr plays

16 Agamemnon Reconstructed 16 Audience thousand, mostly males, citizens in citizens’ meeting place, aware of civic responsibilty to evaluate conduct of others of population 155,000 privileged had honored seats, with backs, others merely stone benches admission free participants in a religious rite spectators at an entertainment citizens at a civic festival, excitable, voluble, volatile, and knowledgeable

17 Agamemnon Reconstructed 17

18 Agamemnon Reconstructed 18 Chorus predates actors citizens, acting citizens same entrance as citizens primary locus orchestra, formerly agora, a meeting place for citizens shared light shared in evaluation of officials and audience so actor/chorus/audience are in essence same, with different and temporary practical tasks

19 Agamemnon Reconstructed 19 Actors and Acting amateurs, citizens, but increasingly dominant performance element highly trained, especially vocally emphasis enunciation, resonance, flexibility doubling, even tripling males played all roles praised for naturalness, not to be confused with naturalism

20 Agamemnon Reconstructed 20 Likely only 3 actors Clytemnestra Herald and Cassandra, perhaps Aegisthus Agamemnon and Watchman, perhaps Aegisthus

21 Agamemnon Reconstructed 21 Style likely formal, rather than realistic masks huge space doubling speech, recitative, and song actors admired for vocal beauty, virtuosity; skillful handling of poetry; appropriate gestures skillful movement situations far from domestic, present

22 Agamemnon Reconstructed 22 Prologue: monologue prologue of watchman (protatic) antecedent events, particularly since departure of Agamemnon characterization of the king hints of secrets, tales stones could tell, fear, decline of royal house ends with beacon: end of war

23 Agamemnon Reconstructed 23 Parados Chorus of old men, elders, sages, visionaries somber, dirge-like poetic rhythm danced in same vein sets mood, ethical, social, historical framework for events wrongs and vengeance horrors of war anger of gods transcience of human life

24 Agamemnon Reconstructed 24 Very brief transition Chorus addresses Clytemnestra who doesn't answer

25 Agamemnon Reconstructed 25 First Ode antecedent events introduces thought "bitterness in the blood" "secret anger" transcience of greatness "wisdom comes alone through suffering

26 Agamemnon Reconstructed 26 Episode 1 Clytemnestra announces fall of Troy characterizing fear of violations by conquering army "Let there be no fresh wrong done!"

27 Agamemnon Reconstructed 27 Ode 2 prayer to Zeus, thanks for victory awful conditions of war sin of Paris, "mortals who trample down the delicacy of things inviolate" sin of Helen, "daring beyond all daring” extends thought

28 Agamemnon Reconstructed 28 Thought on Multiple Levels domestic level: Menelaus's grief social level: "now in place of the young men / urns and ashes are carried home" political level: "slow anger creeps below their grief" ethical level: curse on daring, injustice, "the man fortunate beyond all right"

29 Agamemnon Reconstructed 29 Episode 2 actor speaks (sings?) to actor messenger, a soldier context of Agamemnon's earlier mistakes fresh wrongs: "twice over the sons of Priam have atoned their sin" terrible voyage home end to unhappiness Clytemnestra claims wifely virtue "May he find a wife within his house as true as on the day he left her."

30 Agamemnon Reconstructed 30 Ode 3 Causes of evil and wrongdoing: pride, ruthlessness

31 Agamemnon Reconstructed 31 Episode 3 halfway into play, title character appears train of returning soldiers, Cassandra chorus welcomes, but recalls cost of war Agamemnon straightforward, contrast Clytemnestra's appeal to pride "treading down lovely things" request to treat Cassandra well

32 Agamemnon Reconstructed 32 Ode 4 Chorus's fear excess, limitation, nets and snares

33 Agamemnon Reconstructed 33 Episode 4 Cassandra's silence drives Clytemnestra to fury Cassandra's vision of sin within the house Her own sin, word broken with Apollo Agamemnon's death cries

34 Agamemnon Reconstructed 34 Ode 5 Chorus hesitates to respond

35 Agamemnon Reconstructed 35 Episode 5 bodies disclosed Clytemnestra threatens Chorus Chorus recollects history of doomed house Aegisthus justifies self, to control by power and money Clytemnestra hopes that all will be well, house brought into order

36 Agamemnon Reconstructed 36 The Citadel of Mycenae

37 Agamemnon Reconstructed 37 No Exodos, but a brief forward link

38 Agamemnon Reconstructed 38 Thought Any highly placed person must err Sin leads inevitably to retribution

39 Agamemnon Reconstructed 39 None who undertakes a duty for the god can do so without error antecedent: ancient blood wrongs within family position, pride require return of straying Helen sacrifice of Iphigenia decade of inattention to marriage and family failure to take Clytemnestra sufficiently into account conquering Troy overmuch

40 Agamemnon Reconstructed 40 Sin leads inevitably to retribution Agamemnon's sins already committed, his character irrelevant fear dominant emotion

41 Agamemnon Reconstructed 41 Theatre Buildings evidence important theatres general features Theatre of Dionysus at Athens

42 Agamemnon Reconstructed 42 Evidence few records of theatre buildings architectural remains theatres frequently remodeled and reconstructed during and after the fifth century

43 Agamemnon Reconstructed 43 Theatre at Thorikos (oldest, 6 th c.) Theatre of Dionysus in Athens most frequent performance site (stone theatre late 5 th -4 th c.) Theatre of Epidauros (late 4 th c.) especially well- preserved Important Theatres

44 Agamemnon Reconstructed 44 General Characteristics sacred shrines located all over the Greek world including Greek colonies in Asia Minor built in natural bowls

45 Agamemnon Reconstructed 45 three elements Orchestra (dancing place) circle? skene or scene house theatron (hearing place)

46 Agamemnon Reconstructed 46 Theatre at Epidauros

47 Agamemnon Reconstructed 47 Theatre of Dionysus in Athens first performances of tragedy in 534 BCE earliest, audience seated on hillside flat dancing place supported by retaining wall, backfill perhaps altar South side, opposite audience small temple of Dionysus Eleuthereus

48 Agamemnon Reconstructed 48 Conjectural reconstruction

49 Agamemnon Reconstructed 49 Auditorium of mid-fifth century wooden benches (early century) separated from skene by paradoi curves around orchestra audience, chorus entered through paradoi

50 Agamemnon Reconstructed 50 Stone auditorium (330 BCE) Divided into 13 blocks by 12 stairways

51 Agamemnon Reconstructed 51 Orchestra or dancing place perhaps rectangular in earliest theatre likely circular by time of Agamemnon 66' diameter

52 Agamemnon Reconstructed 52 Skene or scene building. earliest, hut or tent for changing no building required prior to 458 BCE, Orestia probably temporary wooden structure at one side of orchestra different from festival to festival? set in stone after 430

53 Agamemnon Reconstructed 53 Temporary skene for Orestia possibly paraskenia unknown number of doors, perhaps 3-5 roof for watchman later stone theatre (about 330 B.C.) had paraskenia and 5 doors. perhaps 2 stories, permanent or temporary

54 Agamemnon Reconstructed 54 Acting place or "stage" possibly none other than the orchestra possibly broad steps in front of skene no evidence of raised stage prior to late 4th century BCE no evidence of high raised stage prior to mid- 2nd century

55 Agamemnon Reconstructed 55 Scenery no attempt to conceal the skene no evidence of changing scenery 3 other plays produced following Agamemnon perhaps pinakes, but not periaktoi ekkyklema necessary for bodies mechane available, not needed here

56 Agamemnon Reconstructed 56 Properties Altar always present? needed to suggest tomb of Agamemnon in Choephoroi chariot for Agamemnon, Cassandra no attempt to use all the furnishings of daily life.

57 Agamemnon Reconstructed 57 Costumes essential to identify characters and their status huge theatre, doubling chorus all alike long robe or short tunic, with or without sleeves cloak short or long soft boots appropriate accessories: armor, staffs, crowns, sceptres

58 Agamemnon Reconstructed 58 Costume: Evidence late 5th c. evidence only Oinochoe from the Agora Pronomos and Andromeda vases Texts choruses differentiated by ethnicity, occupation Actors distinguished by ethnicity, poverty in rags, mourning

59 Agamemnon Reconstructed 59 Masks worn by all, actors and chorus use in rituals text references differentiation of coloring by ethnicity various hair colors shorn hair for mourning covered entire head appropriate hairstyle, beard, ornaments

60 Agamemnon Reconstructed 60 Masks: Evidence experiments of Thespis little contemporary evidence Fragment of about 470 no onkos, no gaping mouth, eyes painted in Andromeda vase

61 Agamemnon Reconstructed 61 Lighting daylight torches indicate night, possible in Prologue

62 Agamemnon Reconstructed 62 Bibliography Allen, James T. Stage Antiquities of the Greeks and Romans. New York: Cooper, Arnott, Peter D. Greek Scenic Conventions in the Fifth Century, B.C. Oxford: Clarendon, Ashby, Clifford. Classical Greek Theatre: New Views of an Old Subject. Iowa City: U Iowa P, Bieber, Margarete. History of the Greek and Roman Theatre. 2 ed. Princeton UP: Butler, James H. Theatre and Drama of Greece and Rome. San Francisco: Chandler, Flickinger, Roy C. Greek Theatre and Its Drama. 4 ed. Chicago UP, 1936.

63 Agamemnon Reconstructed 63 Bibliography, continued Harsh, Philip Whaley. Handbook of Classical Drama. Stanford UP, Pickard-Cambridge, Arthur W. Dramatic Festivals of Athens. Oxford: Clarendon, Theatre of Dionysus in Athens. Oxford: Clarendon, Winkler, John J. and Froma I. Zeitlin, eds. Nothing to Do with Dionysos? Athenian Drama in Its Social Context. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1990.

64 Agamemnon Reconstructed 64 Web Sites

65 Agamemnon Reconstructed 65 Web Sites “Classics and Mediterranean Archaeology.” “Didaskalia: Ancient Theatre Today.” “Dr. J/s Illustrated Mycenae.” mycenae.htm “Greek Art and Architecture.” Skenotheke: Images of the Ancient Stage.”


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