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