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Greek Drama and Oedipus Rex. Mr. Sweeney Southwest High School. Drama. Drama – a story written to be performed onstage by actors The plot is divided into acts , which are further divided into scenes Dialogue – the conversations of the characters. Comedy vs. Tragedy.

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Greek drama and oedipus rex

Greek Drama and Oedipus Rex

Mr. Sweeney

Southwest High School


  • Drama – a story written to be performed onstage by actors

    • The plot is divided into acts, which are further divided into scenes

    • Dialogue – the conversations of the characters

Comedy vs tragedy
Comedy vs. Tragedy

  • Comedy – a play with a happy ending; usually deals with the struggles of common people against social forces

  • Tragedy – depicts the downfall of a main character known as a tragic hero

Greek tragedy
Greek Tragedy

  • Qualities of a tragic hero

    • Nobility

    • Hamartia – a flaw that brings about the hero’s downfall; all tragic heroes have one

    • Hubris – also known as arrogance; it was the most common flaw in Greek tragic heroes

  • Catharsis– the emotional cleansing we experience as we watch the character realize he has destroyed himself

Greek plays
Greek Plays

  • Only three actors were used for all the main roles; each often played multiple roles

  • Actors wore masks so the audiences knew which characters they were supposed to be in each scene

Greek plays1
Greek Plays

  • A chorus of 10-15 people commented on the action and divided the play by reciting odes

  • Each scene was, therefore, an episode (“between the odes”)

Greek playwrights
Greek Playwrights

  • Three most famous:

    • Aeschylus

    • Euripides

    • Sophocles

Greek theaters
Greek Theaters





Greek plays2
Greek Plays

  • Plays were usually performed as part of religious festivals

  • Awards were given to the authors of the very best plays at these festivals (Sophocles won first place in 24 of the 62 festivals he entered)

  • Oedipus Rex was first performed at the Festival of Dionysius in Athens; Dionysius was the Greek god of wine

The tale of oedipus
The Tale of Oedipus

  • King Laius of Thebes learns from an oracle that he will have a son, and that this son will kill his father (Laius) and marry his mother (Jocasta)

  • When the baby is born, Laius has his feet pinned together

  • Laius then gives the baby to a servant and instructs him to take the baby into the wild and kills him

The tale of oedipus1
The Tale of Oedipus

  • The servant cannot bring himself to kill the innocent child, so he passes him on to a Corinthian shepherd he meets

  • The shepherd takes the baby back to Corinth and presents him to the Corinthian king and queen

  • They name him Oedipus (“swollen foot”) because of the wound to his feet; they do not tell him he was adopted

The tale of oedipus2
The Tale of Oedipus

  • When he has grown to a young man, a drunken servant tells Oedipus that he was adopted

  • Since no one else will tell him the truth, Oedipus goes to an oracle, who tells him he will kill his father and marry his mother

  • Distraught, Oedipus vows never to return to Corinth

The tale of oedipus3
The Tale of Oedipus

  • On the road, Oedipus meets a wealthy traveler, who picks a fight with him; Oedipus kills the man, and the man’s servant runs away

  • Oedipus continues traveling and meets the Sphinx, who has terrorized the city of Thebes with his riddle

  • Oedipus solves the riddle and kills the Sphinx

The tale of oedipus4
The Tale of Oedipus

  • The people of Thebes are overjoyed, but their king has been killed – the do not know who did it

  • They name Oedipus their new king and so he marries the old king’s widow, Jocasta

  • As the play begins, he has been king for about 20 years, and has multiple children with Jocasta