Greek Tragedy

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					Greek Tragedy
Elements of Greek Tragedy

               • Began as a religious
                 festival to god of wine
                 and fertility, Dionysus

             Dionysus (Bacchus),
             god of wine and revelry
Plays depicted serious and important events

  • Portrayed a tragic hero whose flaw is
      excess pride (hubris) but changes,
      gaining a new self-awareness

  • Playwrights were considered teachers,
      offering plays for moral and ethical
      improvement of his fellow citizens
  Aristotle’s Definition of a Tragic Hero

                     Important and
                    Influential Man

Commits an Error     Suffers Due to      Serves as an
  in Judgment      Error in Judgment   Example to Others
• 496?—406 BC
• One of the greatest dramatists of                ancient
   -- introduced painted scenery
   – made each play of a trilogy separate in nature (each
      play could stand alone)
      • Oedipus Rex
      • Oedipus on Colunus
      • Antigone
   – Antigone considered one of the finest
      examples of classical Greek tragedy
                  The Stories

• Written as trilogies

• Showed what happened to a person who
    went against the laws or will of the gods

• Taught man that excessive pride (hubris) led
     to suffering and then to understanding
     (catharsis) of man’s place in life
      Structure of Greek Tragedy

• Prologue—gives background information
• Parodos—sung by chorus as it enters
•Episodes/Scenes—main action of play
•Odes—song that reflects on action of the
    episodes and weaves plot into a whole
•Paean—prayer of thanksgiving to Dionysos
•Exodus—words of wisdom sung by chorus
                 The Chorus
•   Music and Dance
    – music: flute, lyre, drums
    – dance: expressive rhythmic movements
•   Function of the Chorus
    –   sets overall mood and expresses theme
    –   adds beauty through song and dance
    –   gives background information
    –   divides action and offers reflection on events
    –   questions, advises, expresses opinion (usually
        through Chorus leader, “Choragos”)
              Actors and Acting
• Exceptionally loud and clear voices; often sang
• Slow deliberate actions
• Costumes and Masks
   – long, flowing robes (colored symbolically)
   – high boots with raised soles to give large
   – large masks made of wood, linen, cork
       • identified age, gender, emotion
       • exaggerated features (eyes, open mouth)
Actors and Acting

    • The playwright took the
      leading role
    • All male performers (played
      female roles too)
    • Never more than 3 actors
      (changed characters)
       – protagonist,
         deuteragonist, tritagonist
    Conventions of Greek Theatre
•   Aristotle’s Unities
    –   action (simple plot)
    –   time (single day)
    –   place (one scene throughout)
•   The Messenger (sentry)
    –   tells news happening away from the scene
    –   reports acts of violence not allowed to be seen
•   Limitations of the Theatre
    –   the Chorus is constantly on the stage
    –   no intermission
    –   no lighting, no curtains
Greek Theater
• Semi-circular outdoor stadium in a hollowed
out hillside
• Seated 15,000-20,000 audience members

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