G REEK D RAMA 3 Main Types: 1. Comedy 1. Tragedy 1. Satyr
C OMEDY Old Comedy 1. Began as plays that were mainly satirical 2. Mocked men in power New Comedy 1. The evolution of plays 2. Made fun of every day life & ordinary people
T RAGEDY Depicts the downfall of a noble hero or heroine Usually through some combination of pride, fate, and the will of the gods Tragic hero's wish to achieve some goal inevitably encounters limits, usually those of human frailty, the gods (through oracles, prophets, fate), or nature The hero doesn’t need to die, but must undergo a change in fortune The tragic hero may achieve some revelation or recognition about human fate, destiny, and the will of the gods
S ATYR Short plays Performed between the acts of tragedies Mocked the plight of the tragedy’s characters
G REEK T RAGEDY ’ S D RAMATIS P ERSONAE Tragic Hero – main character, usually noble in birth, who must go through unfortunate events Chorus – a group of 12-15 men, led by a Choragus, who sang chorale songs that dictated what was happening in the play and forced the audience to question what was going on in the tragedy The Gods – either the gods themselves or prophets or oracles acting as mouthpieces for the gods. The gods prevent the tragic hero from reaching his goal or they attempt to tell the tragic hero for what he should be on the lookout. Deus ex machina – literally, “god out of the machine,” refers to a plot device used by ancient playwrights in which gods interfere in the storyline, often in creating a resolution for the play. Minor Characters – act as supports for or obstacles to the tragic hero.
W HO IS T HE T RAGIC H ERO ? Usually of noble birth, sometimes royalty, and always a leader of men, the tragic hero is a man who encounters a series of unfortunate events. The audience usually feels pity for him. Hamartia, or tragic flaw, such as hubris, or pride, leads to the eventual downfall of the tragic hero. It is not the tragic hero’s fault that he has this flaw, but he is responsible for his actions that lead to his downfall. The tragic downfall is not senseless; it must have meaning! After his tragic downfall, the tragic hero encounters peripetia, or a reversal of fortune. As a result of his downfall, the tragic hero has increased self-awareness and knowledge of life and reality.
T HE C HORUS (12 – 15 MEN ) Sang three primary types of songs: Parados – entrance song Stasima – songs throughout Exodos – exit song Choral songs divided into three sections: Strophe- sung when chorus moves right to left Antistrophe- answering a previous strophe, sung by the chorus when returning from left to right Epode- 3 rd part of lyric ode, following the strophe & antistrophe, completing the movement Choral songs reaffirm what had happened in the play and point out deeper questions about the plot and themes of the play to the audience. The chorus often engaged in dialogue with the tragic hero of the play.
P ERFORMANCE OF G REEK T RAGEDY Set in an outdoor auditorium or amphitheater, and, because of the lack of artificial light, set mostly in the daytime. If scenes were at night, which was rare, the protagonist or chorus would give clues to the audience members, who would have to use their imaginations. Advantages to outdoor setting: action of tragedy almost always took place outside; and Greek citizens were used to events being held outside, such as political, religious, and civil forums. Stage was circular, with audience seating going up a sloping hill. A tent, or skene, would be located towards the rear of the stage for the actors to change costume, and on the other side would be a crane for the more “realistic” entrance of the gods (deus ex machina).
W HO WAS S OPHOCLES ? Born around 495 B.C. north of Athens, Greece to a wealthy merchant father Educated in all of the arts Known to be successful in his academic as a teenager Entered a number of playwriting competitions Won 1 st place in the first competition he entered, besting well known playwright Aeschylus Won 18 other first place prizes Never took less than 2 nd place in the other 150 competitions he entered Acted in many of his own plays, An ordained priest, served on the Board of Generals, and was the director of the Treasury of Athens The Oedipus Cycle, in particular, Oedipus Rex, is considered his best work.
T HE O EDIPUS C YCLE Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone
O EDIPUS R EX, OR LITERALLY, “O EDIPUS THE K ING ” Setting Thebes, ancient Greece, in a polytheistic society. States are ruled by kings and queens. Dramatis Personae King Laius – Oedipus’ biological father Queen Jocasta – Oedipus’ biological mother…and something else! Oedipus – protagonist, tragic hero King Polybus of Corinth – Oedipus’ adopted father Queen Merope of Corinth – Oedipus’ adopted mother Oracle at Delphi – messenger of the gods The Sphinx – torturing Thebans, riddles passersby Creon – Oedipus’ brother-in-law Tiresias – blind prophet
The story of Oedipus A man who becomes the king of Thebes Destined from birth to: 1 Murder his father, Laius 2 Marry his mother, Jocasta Learning of his destiny, he curses himself and fate Burns out his eyes upon finding Jocasta’s body Begs to be exiled Basic Plot Summary
O EDIPUS AT C OLONUS Setting Colonus, just northwest of Athens, said to be Sophocles’ actual birthplace. Dramatis Personae Oedipus – protagonist, tragic hero Antigone – Oedipus’ daughter Ismene – Oedipus’ daughter Polyneices – Oedipus’ eldest son Eteocles – Oedipus’ son Theseus – King of Athens Creon – Oedipus’ brother-in-law
B ASIC P LOT S UMMARY Describes the end of Oedipus’ tragic life Oedipus travels to Colonus with his daughters, Antigone & Ismene They find themselves on sacred ground Oedipus sees this as the end of his life as prophesized by Apollo when he told him he would die at a place sacred to the Furies Oedipus ready to accept his fate With his death, gives gift he promised to Athens
A NTIGONE Setting Thebes, ancient Greece Dramatis Personae Antigone – protagonist, Oedipus’ daughter Ismene – Antigone’s sister King Creon – Antigone’s uncle Queen Eurydice – Creon’s wife Haemon – Creon’s son Polyneices – Antigone’s dead brother Eteocles – Antigone’s dead brother
Antigone’s brothers, Polyneices & Eteocles killed each other in a battle for the throne Creon, now King, has provided a proper burial for Eteocles, but refuses to allow Antigone to give Polyneices burial rites required by the Greek gods Antigone struggle’s to provide a proper burial for her brother, Polyneices Basic Plot Summary
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