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Greek drama Golden Age of Greece was the Golden Age of drama.

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Presentation on theme: "Greek drama Golden Age of Greece was the Golden Age of drama."— Presentation transcript:

1 Greek drama Golden Age of Greece was the Golden Age of drama.

2 Greece is birthplace of drama.  Athens City of greatest dramas All existing plays come from Athens. All city-states had theatres.

3 Tragedies  Great Athenian playwrights Aeschylus Sophocles Euripides

4 Beginning of theatre  Royal funerals?  Festivals to honor gods  Stories told and retold  Myths grew up around characters

5 Festival to honor Dionysus  God of wine, fertility—everything delicious.  Competitions held for physical and mental skills  Contests for recitations, vocal, and instrumental music  Prizes awarded.  Natural to celebrate gods and heroes

6 Delivered by a chorus. No attempt to identify with the characters of whom they sang. To transform dramatic poetry into drama, one member of the chorus had to speak the words attributed to a god/hero. Second speaker dialogue Songs

7 Role of chorus  Serve as nameless onlookers and commentators  Is at once a participant in and observer of action  Considered an on-stage audience  Reaction of chorus designed to shape audience’s reaction to action and characters

8 Chorus  Action is suspended while chorus performs.  Might narrate past events, try to interpret current situations, speculate about future  Modern commentators  Usually think of gods, but are NOT spokesmen for the gods

9 Chorus  Usually friendly to principal characters  Can be both humane and fallible  Danced/performed rhythmical movements

10 Language of chorus  All drama is written in verse, but meter of actor’s speeches mimic everyday speech.  Choral odes were more complex rhythmically than dialogue (episodes).  Variety of meters  Lyrical nature (may have been sung)  Metaphors/Figurative language  Read odes as poems within the play. Song in theatre—rap music.

11 Thespis  Playwright who created the one actor speaking in 534 BC.  Significance of first actor cannot be overemphasized.  Actor can take parts; chorus members can also take parts.  Actor = hero; chorus=worshippers, soldiers, subjects

12 Themes of plays  Taken from Greek mythology and legends  Stories were NOT original.  Man at the center.  Man’s feelings, relationship with gods, preservation of human decency, preservation of household.  Fate/destiny

13 Early plays  Music and dance were integral.  Much like opera today.  Action=mime  Dances expressed actions and moods.  Actors trained in both voice and movement.

14 Greek plays  Little action  Words are more important than physical action.  Themes often violent, yet violence is never shown onstage.  Violence takes place offstage. Greek taste forbade representation of death in view of audience.  Narration, discussion, speculation

15 Tragedy  Modern—plane crash, tornado.  Literary sense—serious drama featuring a noble, courageous, dignified character (often royal) who strives to achieve something and is ultimately defeated.  Defeat may be brought about by forces beyond his control (FATE) or by his own character flaw (often hubris or ambition).  Character goes from happiness to agony.

16 Tragedy  Ends with defeat, death.  Tragic hero is ennobled by his newly gained self-knowledge and wisdom.  End is one of great dignity as human spirit prevails.  Audience feels relief (catharsis).  Audience identifies with hero—If tragedy can happen to him……

17 Structure of a tragedy  Prologue—opening speech. Gives exposition.  Parados—Chorus makes entrance and gives its perspective  Episodia (episodes)—characters engage in dialogue/heated debates  Following each episode is a choral ode (stasimon) in which chorus responds to and interprets preceding dialogue.  Exodus—Last scene—resolution.

18 Physical theatre  Not a commercial venture.  Not run for profit.  Theatre retained its religious significance.  Plays presented for entertainment, but also as an act of worship.  Right and duty of every citizen to attend.

19 Theatre  Drama was a blend of worship and revel.  Also occasion of great civic importance.  Drama was a responsibility of state.  Polis owned theatre; drama financed out of public funds.

20 Theatres

21  Famous for acoustics  Lack of scenery  Could hold nearly 30,000 spectators  Built into a hill with no roof  Faced south to catch the warmth

22 Theatre

23 Actors  Costumes were magnificent and costly.  Costumes were padded and actors wore elevated shoes—seemed larger than life.  Large, wooden masks which expressed major characters’ emotions.  All male

24 Masks


26 5 th century BC  Time of spectacular energy and prosperity  Time of harmony—political, religious and personal  Aeschylus lived in extraordinary times; he was a product of a heroic age.

27 Aeschylus  First important writer of Greek drama.  Considered the “father of Greek tragedy.”  First entered Dionysia (contest) in about 500 BC. First won in 484 BC thereafter he won first prize 13 times.  458 BC—his masterpiece—The Oresteia.  Known to have written over 90 plays, only 7 survive.  Contributed second actor. Allowed more dialogue.

28 Aeschylus  Legend—Dionysus appeared to Aeschylus as a boy and commanded him to write dramas.  Few facts—born to aristocratic parents, fought in Persian War.  Aeschylus was 45 in 480 BC when Persians defeated Athens and destroyed shrines of gods on Acropolis.  Fought in Greek army that defeated Persians.

29 Oresteia—tale of Orestes  Three plays—”Agamemnon”,”The Libation Bearers”, and “The Eumenides”  Theme is justice.  Uses story of House of Atreus to examine how justice should be developed.  Emphasizes that through suffering, one gains wisdom

30 Transition  Civilization of tribal institution of justice must be transformed into a system of communal justice.  Next of kin had to avenge a family member’s death system would eventually destroy society.  Need to move to a court of law to settle disputes.

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