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Introduction to Ancient Greek Tragedy. 1.Life in Ancient Greece Greece reached its peek in the 6 th and 5 th centuries, specifically in Athens.

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction to Ancient Greek Tragedy. 1.Life in Ancient Greece Greece reached its peek in the 6 th and 5 th centuries, specifically in Athens."— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction to Ancient Greek Tragedy

2 1.Life in Ancient Greece Greece reached its peek in the 6 th and 5 th centuries, specifically in Athens

3 Athens: The Place to Be: Named after the goddess Athena Birthplace of Democracy Center of commerce and arts

4 Athens was on the cutting edge of… Philosophy Art History Politics Architecture

5 Athens Sculptures Realistic figures in bronze and marble Perfect human form Influence still felt today – Our desire to look perfect has its origins in Greek sculpture

6 Physical Excellence Emphasis on physical training No standing army, so this ensured “instant soldiers”

7 Physical Excellence Athletic games were held in Olympia, the Olympics Olive wreaths, a symbol of peace and a major industry

8 2. Greek Tragedy Ancient Greeks invented the art of drama Some plays from Ancient Greece are still performed today

9 Modern Words from Tragedy Orchestra Thespian Drama Dialogue Skene Comedy Tragedy

10 Greek Tragedy Wealthy Athenians subsidized plays Plays performed annually at the spring festival of Dionysus

11 Greek Tragedy: Dionysus March/early April Disrupted city life and could not be contained—the ultimate block party! Tragedy competition Satyr (means, Risque) competition

12 Greek Tragedy: Playwrights Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.) Sophocles (496-406 B.C.) Euripides (485-406 B.C.)

13 Greek Tragedy: Plays Going to the plays was exceptionally popular Day-long Performances Theater was a sacrament, a form of worship

14 Greek Tragedy: Plays Plays were performed in large semi-circle, outdoor amphitheaters made of stone or wood 15,000 to 17,000 spectators (all male)

15 Amphitheaters

16 OywHbxZze8o&feature=PlayList&p= E0E10A7C0B790392&index=0


18 The Theater of Dionysus Today

19 The Theater of Dionysus in Athens, Greece Restored by the emperor Nero in 68 A.D. (Computer recreation)

20 Theater of Epidauros (built 330 B.C., near modern day Nauplion, Greece)

21 Epidauros


23 Greek Tragedy: Scenery and Costume Minimal Scenery and props Platform shoes, and elongated togas with high waistbands Masks stood for characters: – Grief-Happiness – Anger-Bearded King – Old Man-Young Girl

24 Masks in Greek Theater Masks portray character types or character emotions Fit over the head Wig attached Large mouth openings for speech

25 Tragic and Comic Masks

26 Greek Tragedy: Theatrical Machines (mechanai) The ekkyklema (“a wheeled-out thing”) was a cart on wheels which carried a dead body onto the stage. It was sacrilegious to show a character actually dying on the stage.

27 Greek Tragedy: Theatrical Machines (mechanai) The mechane (machine) was a crane-like machine that could lift a character up as if flying, or could carry an actor, usually in the guise of a god, to the top of the skene.

28 Greek Tragedy: Chorus and Actors

29 Greek Tragedy: Who could be in the Chorus? males trained by a poet to sing and dance twelve or fifteen, depending on when the play was written the leader was called the coryphaeus (“head man” or “leader”) – All men – Chanted or danced

30 Greek Tragedy: Chorus Chorus – Provided “emotional bridge” How? Through its five functions.

31 Greek Tragedy: Chorus Five Functions of Chorus – Set the mood – Represent common person – Takes a moral side/stand – Will warn characters – Expresses itself in common language, which is usually in contrast with hero

32 Greek Tragedy: Actors Who could be an actor? – Males

33 Greek Tragedy: Actors – One to three actors For most of the 5 th century, no more than three were used

34 Greek Tragedy: Conventions Play Observed Aristotle’s unities of time, place, and action – Time: Took place during a twenty-four hour period – Place: One setting – Action: No subplots

35 Greek Tragedy: Conventions All violence took place off stage Emotions of characters most important elements of play

36 Greek Tragedy: Tragic Hero/Protagonist Worthy Mature Imperfect Disaster will befall him/her Believes in his freedom to make choices Hubris Suffers Transfiguration—Becomes a better person His/her tragedy causes a life reflection

37 Greek Tragedy: Structure Encroachment – Bites off more than he can chew

38 Greek Tragedy: Structure Complication – Forces build up against the hero – Events become so complex that no single action can resolve them

39 Greek Tragedy: Structure Reversal – Clear to audience that hero’s expectations are mistaken – Hero might have a suspicion as to where his actions will take him. Usually, he/she is ignorant though.

40 Greek Tragedy: Structure Catastrophe – Moment hero realizes full guilt – Hero realizes helplessness in the hands of the gods

41 Greek Tragedy: Structure Recognition – Chorus suggests a larger order and sense of life exists beyond the hero’s downfall – Catharsis

42 What is Catharsis? Literally means “to purge” or “to purify”—to cleanse. For a tragedy, catharsis references – The release of pent up emotions or energy (many times negative)

43 Antigone

44 3. Antigone Theme: What is the higher law: humankind’s or the gods’?

45 Family Tree (Immediate) King Oedipus (deceased) Queen Jocasta (deceased) – Eteocles (son) – Polynices (son) – Antigone (daughter) – Ismene (daughter)

46 Family Tree (Extended) King Creon (Uncle: Jocasta’s brother) Queen Eurydice (Aunt) – Haemon (Cousin and Fiance)

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