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BACKGROUND TO ANTIGONE PowerPoint Presentation
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  2. ANCIENT GREECE • Greece was not one unified country, but was made up of a number of independent city-states, including Athens, Sparta, Corinth and Thebes.

  3. Greek Theatre

  4. Greek Theatre • Orchestra: The orchestra (Orchesina--literally, "dancing space") was normally circular. It was a level space where the chorus would dance, sing, and interact with the actors who were on the stage near the skene. The earliest orchestras were simply made of hard earth, but in the Classical period some orchestras began to be paved with marble and other materials. In the center of the orchestra there was often a thymele, or altar. The orchestra of the theater of Dionysus in Athens was about 60 feet in diameter. • Theatron: The theatron (literally, "viewing-place") is where the spectators sat. The theatron was usually part of hillside overlooking the orchestra, and often wrapped around a large portion of the orchestra (see the diagram above). Spectators in the fifth century BC probably sat on cushions or boards, but by the fourth century the theatron of many Greek theaters had marble seats. • Skene: The skene (scene--literally, "tent") was the building directly behind the stage. During the 5th century, the stage of the theater of Dionysus in Athens was probably raised only two or three steps above the level of the orchestra, and was perhaps 25 feet wide and 10 feet deep. The skene was directly in back of the stage, and was usually decorated as a palace, temple, or other building, depending on the needs of the play. It had at least one set of doors, and actors could make entrances and exits through them. There was also access to the roof of the skene from behind, so that actors playing gods and other characters (such as the Watchman at the beginning of Aeschylus' Agamemnon) could appear on the roof, if needed. • Parodos: The parodoi (literally, "passageways") are the paths by which the chorus and some actors (such as those representing messengers or people returning from abroad) made their entrances and exits. The audience also used them to enter and exit the theater before and after the performance.

  5. GREEK DRAMA • As Greek tragedy sprang from the Choral hymns to Dionysus and was always associated with the cult of that deity, the choric or lyric part always remained an essential and prominent factor in its composition. • The Chorusthe number of which in the time of Sophocles was fixed at fifteen, consisted of persons male or female, who were appropriate accompaniments to the action of the drama. • They took no part in the action and in no way affected it • Their function was partly to give lyric expression to the emotions excited or suggested by what occurred in the course of the action, and to draw either by way of commentary or independently the moral or political lessons to be derived from it.

  6. Greek tragedies were always acted at the two great Dionysian Festivals, and particularly at the Greater Dionysia in the Spring of the year, at the public expense. • They were produced in competition, and a poet had to compete with no less than four plays, three tragedies, and a farce known as a Satyric Play.

  7. In these tragedies there were no acts and scenes • the acts or rather the various stages in the evolution of the plot were indicated by the Choral songs( Stasima) • the part of the play which preceded the entrance of the Chorus was called the Prologos. • The first song of the Chorus, sung as they entered from the sides of the Orchestra and took their stand round the altar in the centre, known as the thymele, was called the Parodos;that portion of the dialogue which intervened between the Parodos and the next whole Chorus was called the first Epeisodion

  8. This was succeeded by the first Stasimon, so named because sung by the Chorus while standing round the thymele. • Epeisodia andStasimathus succeeded each other till the concluding portion of the play began, called theExodusbecause at its close the Chorus and the actors left the stage. • Sometimes the Chorus held musical dialogue with one of the chief actors, and these dialogues had the name of Kommoi, an excellent illustration of which we find in this play, the Chorus divided itself in alternate musical discourse. • As a rule there was no change of scene, the catastrophe not taking place on the stage but being related by a messenger.

  9. TRAGEDY • According to Aristotle, a tragedy must have six parts: plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle, and song. • Most important is the plot, the structure of the incidents. • Tragedy is not an imitation of men's actions and life. It is men's actions defeated by unexpected and undesired bad fortune which he undergoes due to some moral defect, flaw or a mistake of some kind. The reversal is the inevitable but unforeseen result of some action taken by the hero.

  10. Aristotle’s Interpretation of Tragedy • Tragedy depicts the downfall of a noble hero or heroine, usually through some combination of hubris, fate, and the will of the gods. • The tragic hero's powerful wish to achieve some goal inevitably encounters limits, usually those of human frailty (flaws in reason, hubris, society), the gods, or nature.

  11. WOMEN IN GREECE • Girls learned to read in school or at home • learned important household skills-spinning, weaving, sewing, cooking and other household jobs • were taught simple facts on mythology, religion and occasionally musical instruments • Spent most of their time in her household with other women- only leaving the house to perform religious duties

  12. MARRIAGE • Girls got married in their teens, often to a man in his 30's • Her father would chose her husband- for most Athenians, marriage was basically living together • Marriage may have been arranged from a very early age, if the daughter came from a wealthy family • The ancient Greek girl did not know or meet her husband until the dowry(the girl's portion of the father's estate) and betrothal had been agreed to • It was important that the ancient girls were virgins

  13. RIGHTS OF WOMEN • Once a woman was married, her husband controlled all property. • Any property that she might have inherited would go directly to her husband. • She had no rights to wander about the town, without a just cause. • Greek women had virtually no political rights of any kind and were controlled by men at all stages of their lives. • Since men spent most of their time away from their houses, women dominated Greek home life. • The wife was in charge of raising the children and making the families clothes. She supervised the daily running of the household. In a totally slave based economy plentiful numbers of female slaves were available to cook, clean and carry water from the fountain. Only in the poorest homes was the wife expected to do these duties by herself.

  14. SOPHOCLES • Sophocles wrote Antigone in 441BC - the same year in which he was elected general - and probably wrote Oedipus the King in about 425 BC

  15. THE STORY OF OEDIPUS • First, Oedipus was thrown out of Thebes - but his daughter Antigone went with him to help and guide him. (This is the subject of Sophocles' third play - Oedipus at Colonus )‏ • Oedipus was forced to keep on travelling, because nowhere wanted to be polluted by having his body buried in their soil. There is another oracle - Oedipus believes he must die at a place called Colonus - in Athenian territory. The locals want to get rid of him, but he refuses to budge, and appeals to the king of Athens, Theseus. Theseus promises to help him and allow his body to be buried at Colonus - where his spirit will protect Athens. • At this point Oedipus' other daughter - Ismene - arrives with terrible news. Oedipus' two sons, Eteocles and Polynices have quarrelled over who is to rule Thebes, and Polynices has left home - to find help and support for his claim to the throne. He soon arrives, and wants Oedipus' blessing - but Oedipus is appalled at their behaviour and curses them both - a curse that they should kill each other. There is a mighty thunderstorm, and Oedipus' death follows quickly.

  16. The Story of Oedipus • Oedipus' daughters returned to Thebes, where Eteocles now ruled alone. Polynices eventually reached Argos, where he was taken pity on by the king, Adrastus. Adrastus not only gave him his daughter in marriage, but also promised to restore him to the throne of Thebes. Seven armies led by seven heroes (including Adrastus and Polynices) attacked the seven gates of Thebes. Thebes under Eteocles and his uncle Creon resist - there is stalemate. To settle the quarrel, it is decided that seven Argive champions should face seven Theban champions in single combat at each of the seven gates. The Thebans are successful - but tragedy spoils the victory. Only one Theban champion died - and that was Eteocles who had faced his brother Polynices. Each had killed the other in fulfilment of their father's curse. • Creon is now undisputed king of Thebes ... and this is where the play Antigone begins.


  18. Intro to the Play • The Antigone was probably brought out at the Great Dionysia in the Spring of B.C. 441 • The play takes up the story of the Seven Against Thebes, by Aeschylus, but with some changes in the situation. Two brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, have fallen, as will be remembered, at one of the gates of Thebes. King Creon allows Eteocles to be buried at once, that he might receive due honor among the shades; but he orders a herald to forbid any funeral rites or burial to the corpse of Polynices.