Aristotle, Poetics 1453a This is the sort of man who is not pre- eminently virtuous and just, and yet it is through no badness or villainy of his own that he falls into the misfortune, but rather through some hamartia in him, he being one of those who are in high station and good fortune, like Oedipus and Thyestes and the famous men of such families as those. . . . The change must be not to good fortune from bad but, on the contrary, from good to bad fortune, and it must not be due to villainy but to some great hamartia in such a man as we have described, or of one who is better rather than worse. This can be seen also in actual practice. For at first poets accepted any plots, but today the best tragedies are written about a few families —  Alcmaeon for instance and Oedipus and Orestes and Meleager and Thyestes and Telephus and all the others whom it befell to suffer or inflict terrible disasters. Sphinx Oedi/pus Oidi/pous Oedipus the King,  But fear not that you will wed your mother. Many men before now have slept with their mothers in dreams. But he to whom these things are as though nothing bears his life most easily. Homer and Hesiod’s Oedipus Odyssey 11.271-80 And I saw the mother of Oedipodes, fair Epicaste, who wrought a monstrous deed in ignorance of mind, in that she wedded her own son, and he, when he had slain his own father, wedded her, and straightway the gods made these things known among men.  Then he lived as lord of the Cadmeans in lovely Thebe, suffering woes through the baneful counsels of the gods, but she went down to the house of Hades, the strong warder. She made fast a noose on high from a lofty beam, overpowered by her sorrow, but for him she left behind woes  full many, even all that the Avengers of a mother bring to pass. Hesiod, Works and Days 161-3 Grim war and dread battle destroyed a part of them, some in the land of Cadmus at seven- gated Thebes when they fought for the flocks of Oedipus 1 2 3 4 Cadmus looks Cadmus kills for his sister the Serpent Europa The Spartoi kill each other Oedipus kills his father Laius (= left-sided) Oedipus kills son of the Sphinx Labdacus Oedipus (= lame) marries his Eteocles kills mother, his brother, Oedipus Jocasta Polynices (= swell-foot) Antigone buries her “The overvaluation of blood relations is to their brother undervaluationas the attempt to escape Polynices, autochthony is to the impossibility of succeeding despite in it.” Claude Lévi-Strauss prohibition Sophocles, first victory 468 Theban Plays, not a trilogy Antigone late 440s Oedipus Tyrannus 428 ? Oedipus at Colonus 402 Aristotle, Poetics 6 1449b25 Tragedy is a representation (mimesis) of a serious, complete action that has importance, in embellished speech, with each of speech's elements used separately in the various parts of the play, represented by people acting (drama) and not by narration, accomplishing by means of pity and fear the catharsis of such emotions. Parthenon Theatre of Dionysus orchestra skênê Great Dionysia (March) Lennaea (January) day one - procession of statue of Dionysus, sacrifice dithyrambic contest accompanied by flute day two - five comedies days 3-5 three tragedies each day plus satyr play 1000 active participants, 14,000 spectators each play only performed once chor-egoi and playwrights 3 or possibly four actors, choral leader poets become didaskaloi, directors of the plays judges chosen by lot from those nominated by their tribes 5 votes used from 10 cast competition between choruses audience consists probably only of men Reversal A peripeteia is a change of the actions to their opposite. . . in accordance with probability and necessity. E.g. in the Oedipus, the man who comes to bring delight to Oedipus and to rid him of his terror about his mother, does the opposite by revealing who Oedipus is. Revelation An anagnorisis . . . is a change from ignorance to knowledge . . . among people with regard to people’s good fortune or misfortune. A recognition is finest when it occurs at the same time as a peripeteia, as it does in the Oedipus. Plot - mythos The mythos should be constructed in such a way that, even without seeing it, someone who hears about the incidents will shudder and feel pity at the outcome, as someone may feel upon hearing the plot of the Oedipus. hamartia, hamartêma in Prometheus Bound Such is his hamartia; for this he is bound to make requital to the gods,  so that he may learn to bear with the tyranny of Zeus and cease his man-loving ways. Of my own will, yes, of my own will I committed a hamartêma — I will not deny it. By helping mortals I found suffering for myself;  nevertheless I did not think I would be punished in this way — wasting away upon cliffs in mid-air, my portion this desolate and dreary crag.  Pity me, mother, and do not kill me, your child, for my hamartiai. But after a time, when all my anguish was now softened, and when I began to feel that my heart had been excessive in punishing those past errors,  then it was that the city set about to drive me by force from the land, after all that time.
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