I. Origin of Tragedy A. Religious festivals in the spring to honor Dionysus Dionysus (Bacchus), god of wine and revelry
B. Thespis, “Father of Drama” (thespians) 1. introduced the first actor and dialogue C. Sophocles 1. added third actor 2. fixed number of the Chorus to 15 3. introduced painted scenery 4. made each play of a trilogy separate in nature (each play could stand alone) • Oedipus Rex • Oedipus on Colunus • Antigone
II. Structure of Theatre A. theatron: “seeing” place where the audience sat B. orchestra: circular dancing place where actors and Chorus performed C. thymele: altar to Dionysus in center of the orchestra D. skene: building used as dressing room E. proskenion: façade of skene building which served as backdrop F. parados: entrance to the theatre used by Chorus
III. Actors and Acting A. The playwright took the leading role B. All male performers (played female roles too) C. Never more than 3 actors (changed characters) 1. Costumes and Masks 1. long, flowing robes (colored symbolically) 2. high boots with raised soles 3. large masks made of wood, linen, cork a. identified age, gender, emotion b. exaggerated features (eyes, open mouth)
The Chorus A. Music and Dance 1. music: flute, lyre, drums 2. dance: expressive rhythmic movements B. Function of the Chorus 1. sets overall mood and expresses theme 2. adds beauty through song and dance 3. gives background information 4. divides action and offers reflection on events 5. questions, advises, expresses opinion (usually through Chorus leader) 6. Meant to be a representation of society
V. Conventions of Greek Theatre A. Aristotle’s Unities 1. action (simple plot) 2. time (single day) 3. place (one scene throughout) B. The Messenger (sentry) 1. tells news happening away from the scene 2. reports acts of violence not allowed to be seen C. Limitations of the Theatre 1. the Chorus is constantly on the stage 2. no intermission 3. no lighting, no curtains
VI. Important Terms 1. tragedy: an imitation of a serious action which will arouse pity and fear in the viewer 2. tragic hero: a character, usually of noble birth, neither totally good nor totally evil, whose downfall is brought about by some weakness and error in judgment (a tragic flaw)
3. hamartia: a tragic flaw, weakness of character or error in judgment which causes the downfall of the hero (tragic flaw) • hubris: the tragic flaw of exaggerated self-pride. Hubris was a crime in classical Athens. 5. catharsis: the “purging” or release of emotions the audience feels 6. deus ex machina: a person or god that intervenes in the action
FATE: the will or principle or determining cause by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are or events to happen as they do : destiny • The Greeks believed that everything happened for a reason and that the path they led in life, was prescribed for them by the Gods and that there was no escaping their fate or destiny.
IRONY: a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other's false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning • DRAMATIC IRONY: incongruity between a situation developed in a drama and the accompanying words or actions that is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play —called also dramatic irony tragic irony
Sophocles: The Three Theban Plays (Oedipus Rex) • Sophocles: (496- 406 B.C.E.) • He wrote 123 or more plays during the course of his life • For almost 50 years, he was the dominant competitor in the dramatic competitions of ancient Athens that took place during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia. • His first victory was in 468 BC, although scholars are no longer certain that this was the first time that he competed. Sophocles: (496- 406 B.C.E.)
Sophocles: The Three Theban Plays (Oedipus Rex) Sophocles influenced the development of the drama, most importantly by adding a third character and thereby reducing the importance of the chorus in the presentation of the plot. He also developed his characters to a greater extent than earlier playwrights such as Aeschylus. Sophocles: (496- 406 B.C.E.)
Sophocles: The Three Theban Plays (Oedipus Rex) • Only seven of his tragedies have survived into modern times with their text completely known. • The most famous of these are the three tragedies concerning Oedipus and Antigone: these are often known as the Theban plays or The Oedipus Cycle, (Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, & Antigone) although they were not originally written or performed as a single trilogy. Sophocles: (496- 406 B.C.E.)
VII. The Original Dysfunctional Family King Menoeceus King Laius Jocasta Creon Eurydice King Oedipus Jocasta Megareus Haemon Eteocles Polyneices Ismene Antigone
King Laius and Jocasta have a son, Oedipus. The Oracle predicts Oedipus will grow up and kill his father, so Laius drops Oedipus over a cliff into the ocean.
Baby Oedipus is rescued by a shepherd. He grows up and hits the road. Meets the Sphinx. Answers the Sphinx’s riddle. Sphinx kills herself. Do you know the Sphinx’s riddle?
Oedipus argues with and kills a man on the road who, unbeknownst to Oedipus, is his father Laius. Oedipus continues and when he reaches Thebes, he is rewarded for killing the Sphinx that has been plaguing their town (no one has been able to come and go since the Sphinx has been guarding the road). Oedipus is given the newly widowed queen to marry. Look back at the family tree…
Oedipus and his “wife” have four children. Eventually, a new plague strikes Thebes and the Oracle is consulted again. The soothsayer, Teiresias, tells them that Thebes is suffering because of Oedipus and Jocasta’s crime against nature.
Jocasta hangs herself and Oedipus takes her brooch and blinds himself. He is exiled from Thebes, and Antigone and Ismene, his daughters, dutifully lead their father through the lands during his exile.
A civil war breaks out about who will be the new ruler of Thebes. Eteocles and Polyneices fight to be heir to the throne. They kill each other and their Uncle Creon steps up. He believes one was the rightful heir (the oldest son) and other was a traitor to the state for challenging him. Creon refuses a proper burial for the “traitor” and this makes Antigone angry; she believes BOTH her brothers deserve a proper burial.
Remember your mythology? Why was a proper burial so important to the Greeks?
You need to get to Hades! Once a person has died, s/he must pay the ferryman, Charon, to take him/her across the River Styx to the Underworld. Otherwise, the soul will not be able to rest. Michelangelo’s Last Judgment