Aristotle, author of the Poetics An Introduction Sophocles, author of Oedipus Rex Dramas held in honor of Dionysius, god of wine and fertility god believed to empower a human being to change personality or act Theater of Dionysius Athens, Greece Tragedy = “goat song” young men, or “kids,” that made up the chorus Possible sacrifice or prize won by playwright, or dramatist Began as a drama contest Contestants wrote three dramas and one satyr play and submitted them Winner’s play was chosen to be performed at the annual religious festivals in honor of Dionysius Examined big questions of humanity Why are we here? What is our purpose? Are we masters of our own fate or not? Aristotle’s Poetics Defines: Poetry Comedy Tragedy Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex is greatest example of tragedy “An imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in the separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear affecting the proper purgation [catharsis] of these emotions.” (Aristotle 17) 1. Plot 2. Thought 3. Character 4. Diction 5. Song 6. Spectacle 1. Peripeteia (Recognition) 2. Anagnorisis (Reversal) 3. Pathos (Calamity; Suffering) 1. Unity of Plot 2. Unity of Place 3. Unity of Time Hegel – “collision of mutually exclusive but equally legitimate causes” (Brown) Nietzsche – “the confrontation of Apollo and Dionysos, the Greek gods of order, restraint, and form on the one hand and impulse, instinct, and ecstatic frenzy on the other” (Brown) The idea of characters “struggling within the limitations of their mortality to find meaning and purpose to human activity” (Brown) Some scholars assert that our present-day dependence on science and atheistic (agnostic at best) tendencies have weakened our ability to experience tragedy – 1. Undermined the grandeur of humanity; 2. Destroyed sense of supernatural and transcendental reality Life is too rational – therefore any thought of tragedy in the classical or Christian sense is unfounded and superstitious (Brown) 1. Asks ultimate questions 2. Individuals are pushed to the limits, forcing them to live or die by their convictions 3. Individuals challenge the rules of life and the ordinances of Fate 4. Strength of will sets the hero apart from humanity while offering a vision of human potential (Brown) Aristotle. Poetics and Rhetoric. trans. S.H. Butcher. New York: Barnes and Noble Classics, 2005. Brown, Larry. “Tragedy After Aristotle.” Larry A. Brown: Webpages for Studies of Mythology, Religion and Theater. July 2003. 21 July 2008 <http://larryavisbrown.homestead.com/Tragedy_after_Aristotle.html>. McCullagh, Declan. Theater of Dionysius. Oct 2006. Declan McCullagh Photography. 20 Jul 2008 <http://www.mccullagh.org/photo/1ds-12/theater- of-dionysus-eleuthereus>.
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