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									                                 Greek Drama Glossary
   Agon: the debate in a drama; 'contest'; a formal debate, highly rhetorical in nature and often somewhat
   Antagonist: the hero’s opposite and foil
   Antistrophe : see strophe
   Blank Verse : unrhymed iambic pentameter verse
   Catharsis: quality in a tragedy that provides emotional release ; helps the audience to lose thems elves in
    the play
   Chorus: singing and dancing groups in Greek tragedy – derive from Dionysiac rituals
   Classical : characterized by consciousne ss of perfection of form; opposed to “formlessness” of the
   Deus ex machina: “The god from the machine,” an unconvincing method of supernaturally solving a
    problem in a play or literature
   Dithyramb: hymn of praise (paean) to the god Dionysus; originally the songs of the chorus
   Epiphany : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of
   Episode*: any unit of action in a play; comparable to a scene
   Epode: point at which the choric ode stops between the strophe and antistrophe
   Exodos*: conclusion of the play (similar to epilogue)
   Golden Mean: Doctrine of moderation in all things; taking nothing to excess
   Hamartia: tragic, fatal flaw
   Hubris: excessive pride
   Iambic: an unaccented syllable followed by an accented one
   In medias res: “into the midst of things” ; in or into the middle of a narrative or plot
   Ode: any strain of exalted verse
   Parados*: the processional of the chorus at the play’s beginning
   Pathos: literally, “suffering,” quality that evokes compa ssion
   Prologue*: opening of a tragedy: sets the scene and tempo
   Protagonist: hero; precipitat es the action of a play
   Satyr-play: a farce or comic-relief play appended to the tragic trilogy in honor of Dionysus
   Sophoclean (dramatic) irony : a situation in which the audience knows something that a
    character in the play does not; used to convey the cont radictory nature of human existence
   Stasimon*: choral odes following each scene or episode in a Greek tragedy
   Strophe: part of a stasimon; the singers move up one side in the orchestra in the strophe, and reversed their
    movements in the antistrophe; the lines in the strophe and antistrophe are equivalent
   Tragedy : form of drama in which the protagonist undergoe s a morally significant struggle

                                                                             * indicates an element of tragedy
        Words and Definitions (Greco-Roman roots)
   Adonis: n. very handsome young man (from Adoni s, the handsome youth loved by Aphrodi te)
   aegis: n. shield or protection; aus pices, sponsorship (from aegi s, the protective shield of Zeus and symbol
    of Athena) The club is under the aegis of the school government council.

   Amazon: n. tall, strong, masculine woman (from the Amazons, a mythical race of women warriors)
   ambrosial : adj. exceptionally pleasing to taste or smell; extremely delicious; excellent (from ambrosia, the
    food of the gods)

   atlas: n. book of maps (from Atlas, a giant who supported the world on his shoulders)
   auroral : adj. pertaining to or resembling the dawn (from Aurora, godde ss of the dawn)
   bacchanalian: adj. jovial or wild with drunkenness (from Bacchus (Dionysus), god of wine and

   chimerical : adj. fantastic, unreal, impossible, absurd (from the Chimera, a fire-breathing monster with a
    lion’s head, goat’s body, and serpent’ s tail)

   draconian: adj. cruel, harsh, severe (from Draco, an Athenian lawmaker who drew up a harsh code of

   elysian: adj. delightful, blissful, heavenly (from Elysium (or the Elysian Fields) the mythological paradise
    where the brave and the good go after death)

   hector : v. bully, intimidate with threats; bluster (from Hector, brave st of the Trojans)
   Herculean: abj. very difficult; requiring great strength or effort (from Hercules (Heracles), a hero of
    superhuman strength)

   hermetic: adj. airtight (from Herm es, who among his other attribute s was the god of magic)
   iridescent: adj. having rainbow-like coloration (from Iri s, godde ss of the rainbow)
   jovial : adj. jolly, merry, good-humored (from Jove, or Jupiter – the planet Jupiter was at one point
    believed to make those born under its influence cheerful)

   labyrinthine : adj. full of confusing passageways; intriguing; complic ated like a maze (from the Labyrinth, a
    fabled maze in Crete)

   laconic: adj. using words sparingly; terse; concise (from lakonikos, meaning Spartan. The Spartans were
    known fro their terseness)

   lethargic : adj. unnaturally drowsy; sluggish; dull (from Lethe, a river in Hades whose waters, when drunk,
    caused forgetfulne ss)

   lucullian: adj. sumptuous; luxurious (from Lucullus, a Roman who gave lavish banquets)
   martial : adj. pertaining to war; warlike (from Mars (Ares), the god of war)
   mentor : n. wise and trusted advisor (from Mentor, to whom Odysseus entrusted hi s son’ s education)
   mercurial : adj. quick; vivacious; active; lively (from Mercury (Herm es), speedy messenger of the gods)
   myrmidon: adj. obedient and unquestioning follower (from the Myrmidons, a martial tribe who
    accompanied Achilles to the Trojan War)

   nemesis: n. due punishment for evil deeds; one who inflicts such punishment; a formidable rival or opponent
    (from Nemesi s, god of vengeance)
   odyssey: n. journey; series of wanderings or travels (from The Odyssey, an epic poem about Odysseus’ s
    ten years of wanderings on hi s way home from the Trojan War)

   paean: n. song of hymn or praise, joy or triumph (a hymn of praise to the god Apollo)
   palladium : n. safeguard or protection (from Palladium, the statue of Pallas Athena, which was thought
    to protect the city of Troy)

   panic: v, n. unreas oning, sudden fright that grips a multitude (from Pan, a god believed to cause fear)
   philippic: n. bitter denunciation (from the Philippics, orations by Demosthenes denouncing King Philip
    of Macedon)

   plutocratic : adj. having great influence because of one’s wealth (from Plutus, god of wealth)
   procrustean : adj. cruel or inflexible in enforcing conformity (from Procrustes, a robber who made his
    victim s fit the length of his bed either by stretching their legs or cutting them off)

   protean: adj. exceedingly variable; readily assuming different shapes or forms (from Proteus, a sea god
    who could change form to elude capture)

   pyrrhic: adj. ruinous; gained at too great a cost (from Pyrrhus, who suffered enormous losse s in a victory
    over the Romans)

   saturnine : adj. heavy, dull; gloomy; morose (from Saturn, whose name in astronom y became associated
    with heaviness and dullness)

   siren: n. dangerous, attractive woman (from the Sirens, creatures half woman and half bird, whose
    singing lured sailors to death on the rocks)

   solon: n. legislator, wise lawgiver(from Solon, noted Athenian lawgiver)
   stentorian: adj. very loud (from Stentor, a legendary herald whose voice was a loud as fifty voice s)
   stygian: adj. infernal; dark; gloomy (from the Styx, a river of the netherworld leading into Hades)
   tantalize: v. excite a hope but prevent its fulfillment; tease (from Tantalus, who was kept hungry and
    thirsty in the netherworld w ith food and water just out of reach)

   terpsichorean : adj. pertaining to dancing (from Terpsichore, the muse of dance)
   thespian: adj., n. pertaining to drama, acting, or the theatre (from Thespi s, reputed father of Greek drama)
   titanic: adj. or enormous strength, size, or power (from the Titans, lawless, powerful giants defeated by

      Definition of Tragedy (according to Aristotle)
   Imitation of a single, unified action that is serious, complete, probable, and of a
    certain magnitude.
   It concerns the fall of a man whose character is good, believable, and consistent.
   The fall is caused in part by some error or frailty in the protagonist, not by a vice
    or depravity.
   The language is embellished with each kind of artistic ornament.
   The tragedy is presented in the form of action, not narrative.
   It arouses in the audience the emotions of pity and terror resulting in a catharsis
    of these emotions.

                              The Tragic Hero
 Believes in his own freedom. He makes choices when faced with dilemmas, and
  he has faith and courage to accept the outcomes of his choices.
 A supreme pride (hubris) seems almost a reflection of arrogance, a superiority to
  man, but it gives the hero a unique power and dignity.
 Capacity for suffering – he suffers because he believes in what he is doing. Feels
  both guilt and guiltlessness at the same time. Justifies his actions, but is not
  convinced they are just. No fear of death.
 A sense of commitment – committed to the course of his action. There is an
  inevitability that moves him to a resolution.
 Vigorous protest – objects with vehemence, logic, and pain against the situation
  he finds himself in. Does not accept fate meekly. Cries out against the gods and
  his own weakness.
 Transfiguration – suffering refines him. He learns from his agony, and his
  awareness lies in his deeper understanding of the human condition and man’s
  pace in the universe.
 Impact – audience and other characters also learn about the condition of man.

                     Greek Drama Note Outline
I.            Origin                                                  IV.     The Chorus
              a. Origin in religious ceremony                                 a. Goes back to Dionysiac dithyramb
              b. Greek drama grew out of worship of Dionysus                  b. Twelve to fifteen members
              c. Dionysiac dithyramb was a choral dance with                           i. Leader is Coryphaeus or Choragos
                   mime                                                                        1. Speaks for chorus during spoken
              d. Thespis added first actor to act out adventures of                                 dialogue
                   Dionysus                                                           ii. Represented a group of old women or men
              e. City Dionysia Festival instituted in Athens in 534           c. Chorus faced actors during play, the audience
                   BC                                                            during intervening choral odes
                         i. Competition for tragedy writ ers                           i. Chanted the choral odes in unison
                        ii. Drama brought under state control and                     ii. Moved toward audience in strophe, away
                            patronage                                                     from audienc e in antistrophe
              f. Aeschylus added second actor                                 d. Function of Chorus
              g. Sophocles added third actor                                           i. Transition between acts
              h. Golden Age of Greece: 490 – 429 B C                                  ii. Remind of what has transpired in past
                         i. Greek drama reached its height                           iii. Foret ell future
                        ii. Great playwrights                                        iv. Reflect public opinion
                                 1. Aeschylus                                         v. Serve as a k ind of proxy for audience
                                 2. Sophocles                                        vi. Give author an opportunity to comment
                                 3. Euripides                                        vii. Provide occasion for great lyric poetry
II.           Influence of Religion on Greek Drama                                  viii. Tak e part in action of play
              a. Drama an attempt to beautify and enrich religion
                         i. Poetry, music, dancing, acting            V.      The Greek Theater
              b. Altar of Dionysus stood in cent er of theater                a. Few props or mechanical devices
              c. Plays only performed at two religious festivals in           b. Large open-air amphitheaters
                   March and January                                          c. Semicircular with seating built into side of hill
                         i. Elaborate procession with statue of god           d. Theat er in Athens could seat 17,000
                            on opening day                                    e. Stage was orchestra-level circular place
                                 1. festival mixed religious feeling          f. Raised stage and skene (prop house) added later
                                      with love of fun and spectacle          g. E vent ually a more elaborate building with balcony
                        ii. all of Athens attended                            e. Later plays had mec hanical devices to fly in the
                       iii. each playwright presented a series of                gods to save the day (deus ex machine)
                            three tragedies followed by a satyr-play          f. Usual scene is of an open space in front of a
                                 1. Only extant series is The                    palace or temple
                                      Oresteia of Aeschylus                   g. Messengers used to inform audience of events
                                 2. plots taken from familiar stories
                                                                                 happening offstage
                                      and myths
                                 3. audience interested in variation
                                      of story                        VI.     The Audience
                                 4. tried to invest old stories with          a. Since plays were only performed twice a year, the
                                      new meanings                               audience was almost the entire male population of
III.          Music and Dancing                                                  city
              a. Greek drama is a combination of poetic drama,                b. Plays went on all day with no int ermission
                   music, and dancing                                         c. Audience was noisy and intelligent
                         i. Closest modern parallel is opera                           ii. Would stop bad plays
              b. Some passages spoken, but others sung,                               iii. Hissed, groaned, stamped, threw t hings
                   including choral odes and int ensely lyrical               d. Ear of audience so astute, they could detect small
                   passages                                                      errors such as the stressing of a wrong syllable
              c. Dancing used bodily motion to interpret the
                   emotions of the words and music
                         i. This is a lost art – closest modern
                            parallel is ballet

       VII.     The Actors                                          XII.    Euripide s
                a. Used masks to play a variety of parts                    a. 480-406 BC
                       ix. Cont ained a k ind of built-in megaphone         b. Growing tendency towards skeptical thinking
                b. Effective rhetorical delivery of lines of utmost         c. Plays are more melodramatic and romantic
                   importance – not realism of dialogue                     d. Severely criticized for excessive use of deus ex
                c. Dialogue was highly artificial                               machina endings

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