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Ancient Greek Drama. Originated in Athens, Greece and reached it’s peak in the fifth century B.C. Grew from ancient religious rituals.

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Presentation on theme: "Ancient Greek Drama. Originated in Athens, Greece and reached it’s peak in the fifth century B.C. Grew from ancient religious rituals."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ancient Greek Drama

2 Originated in Athens, Greece and reached it’s peak in the fifth century B.C. Grew from ancient religious rituals.

3 Greek Mythology Zeus Apollo Dionysus –

4 Dionysus Son of Zeus & a mortal woman

5 Mother was killed while pregnant by Zeus‘s lightning bolt Underwent resurrection – 2 nd birth from Zeus’s thigh

6 God of wine and fertility in nature God of common people Thought to liberate worshippers from personal trouble

7 Dionysus was a suffering god Ceremonies were not compatible w/ Greek tradition Rapid movements of hands & body Hysterical screaming Cycle of lamenting and rejoicing

8 Dionysus’s teachings went against Apollo’s teachings of restraint. Apollo’s follows believed in “Nothing too much” and “Know thyself”

9 Often the worship of Dionysus was forbidden More women worshippers than men

10 A Suffering God Dionysus was believed to have undergone death and resurrection Religious ceremony mirrored this Lamenting mirrored god’s death Rejoicing with wild dancing and singing mirrored god’s resurrection Often involved animal sacrifices

11 Service served as a social safety valve After service worshippers left with peace of mind Was a type of catharsis

12 Dithyrambs Choral lyric poems in honor of Dionysus Sung while dancing around altar Performed by 50 men dressed in goat skins (sacred animals of the gods)

13 Dithyrambs – Later evolved into what we see as chorus – Goats later awarded as prizes in tragedy festivals

14 Dithyrambs Tragedy = goat song (tragoidia) Men represented satyrs (Dionysus’s companions

15 Dithyrambs evolved Became poetic in form Included stories of gods and heroes

16 Arion (writer) was the 1 st to write dithyramb as literature in poetic form

17 Choragos The leader of the chorus filled in the intervals between portions of lyric poems with stories of Dionysus

18 Peisistratus Ruler of Athens 6 th Century B.C. Gave official recognition to tragedy Festival instituted

19 Thespis Introduced first actor Hypokrites - answerer Performed between dances of the chorus Would take several roles – change costumes many times - wore mask Conversed w/ leader of chorus

20 Thespis The “Father of Drama” was born in Attica, and was the first prize winner at the Great Dionysia in 534 BC. He was an important innovator for the theatre, since he introduced such things as the independent actor, as opposed to the choir, as well as masks, make up and costumes.

21 Aeschylus added the second actor With this addition, drama was born Possibility of conflict Chorus was reduced to 12

22 Sophocles Added 3 rd actor Stabilized chorus at 15 Introduced painted sets

23 Sophocles Prominent citizen of Athens Generally considered the greatest of ancient Greek playwrights Known for musical, poetic, and dramatic talents General, political leader, priest

24 Career spanned 62 years At age of 17, was leader of the chorus At age of 28, won prize and defeated leading playwright of the day Wrote 120+ plays Won 1 st place 24 times for 72 plays Never won less that 2 nd prize (7 times) Names of nearly 100 plays known today Seven complete plays survive today

25 Contributions Added the third actor Fixed the number of chorus members to 15 Introduced painted scenery Made each play of trilogy separate in nature Wrote Oedipus (430 B.C.), Oedipus at Colonus (405 B.C.) and Antigone (440 B.C.) Plays always contain a moral lesson – usually a caution against pride

26 Production of the plays

27 Tragedy as an art form Reached its height in 5 th century B.C. Tragedies presented at Tragedy Festivals Originally presented in honor of god Dionysus

28 City Dionysia - Festival Most important of 3 annual festivals Plays produced by state 5 days in March/April

29 Festival Structure DAY 1 Grand procession w/ statue of Dionysus carried to the theatre – sacred parade A herald would announce the competing plays DAYS 2 & Dithyrambs – Men & 5 Dithyrambs – Boys

30 Festival Schedule DAYS Drama contest Each playwright presented three tragedies - & 1 satyr play (ridicule gods or heroes) Later a comedy also presented Only 3 playwrights participated

31 Actors were chosen by state earlier in the year Public businesses suspended Prisoners released on bail 14,000 spectators Attendance mandatory – religious obligation Citizens often required to participate in productions

32 Spectators Men and women were segregated Originally free When trouble over seats – fee charged State provided fund for those who couldn’t pay.

33 Playwright’s Responsibilities Wrote plays Composed music Directed Supervised rehearsals Acted Assigned actors, chorus, musicians, etc.

34 Costs paid by wealthy citizens (honor) Was considered a public service Required as a special tax on wealthy Shared praise

35 Prizes Wreaths, Crowns of ivy Bull, Goat Name carved in marble

36 judges 10 – 20 judges were chosen by government Elaborate precautions to prevent corruption

37 Thespis Winner of the first contest

38 Other winners Aeschylus Sophocles Euripides

39 Theater



42 Actors and Acting Hypocrites (answerer) Never more than three actors in a performance All male performers

43 Costumes and Masks Long flowing robes Colored symbolically Often padded to add stature High boots with raised soles Props carried to identify roles

44 Larger Than Life Masks Made of linen, wood, cork Made with human or animal hair Exaggerated features – large eyes and open mouth

45 Masks continued Used to inspire audience (larger than mortals) Hid actor’s face from gods as they impersonated them Acted as megaphone to amplify voices Identified age, gender and rank of character Called a “persona” Choir masks much simpler

46 Chorus Ideal Spectator Passage of time or transition between scenes Entertains Gives background information Introduces & questions new characters Points out significance of events Gives advice Identifies themes

47 Conventions of Tragedy Unities of time, place, action Techniques of stichomythia, strophe, antistrophe, epode, and in media res Messenger who tells happenings offstage and reports acts of violence (never allowed on stage

48 Conventions continued No violence on stage The action always takes place outdoors There were limitations of the theater – No intermission – No lighting, no curtain – Myths were already known to audience – playwright had to rely on dramatic irony

49 Structure of tragedy Prologue Parados Episodes Stasimon Paean Exodus

50 Prologue Opening scene Background of story is established Single actor

51 Episodes Counterparts of Acts 4 – 8 in a tragedy (known as scenes in our translation)

52 Stasimon Choral ode at the end of each episode Originally a poem written to be sung Serves to separate the scenes since no curtains were present: provides the chorus’ response to the preceding scene

53 Paean A choral hymn in praise of a god In Antigone praise to Dionysus, in whose honor the Greeks presented their plays

54 Exodus Exit of Chorus and Actors

55 Definition of Tragedy Defined by Aristotle in 335 BC in Poetics Told to arouse emotions of pity and fear in audience – Pity because the tragic hero is not an evil man – punishment is too great – Fear because of the possibility of error in ourselves Produces catharsis in audience (new understanding of gods and man) Produces catharsis in audience – come away with new understanding of gods and man Tells story of downfall (catastrophe) of tragic hero Order is restored in the end of the play

56 Tragic Hero Noble Powerful & respected Tempts fate Has a tragic flaw in personality (usually pride) Brings extraordinary amounts of sorrow and suffering on himself Undergoes a reversal of fortune Has a moment of self awareness Dies or wishes to be dead in the end of the play

57 Basic Concepts of Greek Culture Believed every person’s life ruled by predetermined fate – a natural force set in motion by the gods and one that could not be altered Believed every person’s fate held in store a personal allotment of unavoidable misery Believed man possessed a certain freedom of will and action and could live out his life with dignity, bringing upon himself no more than his allotted share of grief

58 Basic concepts of Greek Culture continued Believed man was inferior to the gods because he was mortal and fallible Believed man was to be punished if he defied the gods

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