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Ancient Greek Tragedy Notes

Ancient Greek Tragedy Notes

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Ancient Greek Tragedy Notes

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  1. Ancient Greek Tragedy Notes

  2. Sophocles (495-405 B.C) • At 28, he won first prize in the City Dionysia--a festival held every year at the Theatre of Dionysus in which new plays were presented, defeating another famous Greek playwright, Aeschylus. • Wrote more than 120 plays and won at least 18 other 1st prizes. Only 7 plays survive. • Known as a great innovator: • Introduced a 3rd actor • Abolished the trilogic form- each of his plays was complete in itself

  3. Oedipus Rex • Also known as Oedipus the King or Oedipus Tyrannus • Commonly considered Sophocles’ finest work • Often heralded as a "perfectly structured" play • Explores the depths of modern psycho-analysis; was very influential to the theories of Sigmund Freud

  4. Antigone • The 3rd of Sophocles' 3 Theban plays, although it was written first • Written around 442 BC • Preceded by Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus

  5. Definition of “tragedy” • a drama whose plot centers around a reversal of fortune • stresses the vulnerability of human beings whose suffering is brought on by a combination of human and divine actions • not totally pessimistic in its outlook Definition from the Classics Technology Center

  6. The Tragic Hero • the central character of a tragedy (like Oedipus) • suffers some serious misfortune which is not accidental (and therefore meaningless), but is logically connected with the hero's actions (thus, the term “tragic flaw.”) from Classics Technology Center

  7. The Theater • an open-air auditorium • in earliest performances, just a circular area (the orchestra) at the bottom of a gently sloping hill • later, wooden and stone seating was built • the Theater of Dionysus seated up to 15,000 people

  8. Theater of Dionysus

  9. The Set • the set, called the “skene,” consisted of a tent or wooden building, in front of which all scenes were acted • all scenes in tragedy take place outside; any off-stage action is conveyed by a messenger because it was too awkward and difficult to change the set

  10. The Chorus • sang and danced in between scenes so that the actors could change • participated in scenes through the chorus leader, called Choragus • sang entrance song (called the Parados)

  11. The Purpose of the Chorus • Remained on the stage for the entire play to observe and comment on the actions of the main characters • Can you think of any modern film or real-life equivalents to the Greek chorus?

  12. The Cast • Originally, the Greek plays had just one actor and a chorus of up to 50 people. • Later, a second and third actor were added… always men.

  13. The Costumes • The actors wore masks so that they could portray multiple characters, as well as so male actors could believably portray female roles. • The masks had exaggerated features so that the large audience could see changes in characters from far away.

  14. Greek Theater Vocabulary • Tragedy • Tragic hero • Tragic flaw • Chorus and choragus