Author Information • Sophocles • 496 – 406 B.C. • Grew up in the most intellectual period of Athens • Wrote 123 plays in his lifetime but only 7 survive • Good-natured and well-liked • Comes from a wealthy family; well-educated • Involved heavily in politics and the government
Author Information • Sophocles • What did you already know about this author? • What can you predict about his writing based on the biographical information?
The Background Story(watch video, write down three interesting things, discuss) Antigone is just one story in a three-part mini-series written by Sophocles. It’s important to know what happens in the plays before it to better understand the story.
VII. The Original Dysfunctional Family King Menoeceus King Laius Jocasta Creon Eurydice King Oedipus Jocasta Megareus Haemon Eteocles Polyneices Ismene Antigone
VII. The Original Dysfunctional Family What’s wrong with that family tree chart?
King Laius (pronounced LAY USE) 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.
The Riddle of the Sphinx What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening?
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.
Oedipus and his “wife” have four children. Eventually, a new plague strikes Thebes and the Oracle is consulted again. The soothsayer, Teiresias (pronounced TIE REE SEE US), 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 (pronounced AN TIG OH KNEE) and Ismene (pronounced IS MAY NAY), 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 (pronounced EH TEE OH CLEES) and Polyneices (pronounced POLY NICES) fight to be heir to the throne. They kill each other and their Uncle Creon steps up. This is where Antigone, the play, begins.
I. Origin of Tragedy(watch 2 videos, write down three interesting things from each, discuss) (2nd video) • Religious festivals in the spring to honor Dionysus -Each year, playwrights were chosen to produce three tragedies, and a satyr play – comic interlude, for a competition at the festival 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 • introduced painted scenery • Used masks to differentiate between actors 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
II. Structure of Theatre What aspects of our modern theaters seem to be taken from Greek theater?
Basic Parts of a Greek Tragedy 1. Prologue: a. Spoken by one or two characters before the chorus appear b. Gives mythological background 2. Parodos a. Song sung by the chorus as it first enters the orchestra and dances. 3. Ode: a. Type of lyrical verse (sung) b. Greek odes were originally poetic pieces accompanied by symphonic orchestras. 4. Strophe: a. Forms the first part of the ode in Ancient Greek tragedy, followed by the antistrophe b. Chanted by a Greek chorus as it moved from right to left across the skênê. 5. Antistrophe: a. Portion of an ode sung by the chorus in its returning movement from west to east b. It has the nature of a reply and balances the effect of the strophe. 6. Exodos: a. At the end of play, the chorus exits singing a processional song b. Offers words of wisdom related to the actions and outcome of the play
Basic Parts of a Greek Tragedy What would this structure do for an audience?
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. protagonist, deuteragonist, tritagonist D. 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)
III. Actors and Acting Do modern actors have more of a challenge than Greek actors did?
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)
The Chorus Would this be a distraction for modern viewers?
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
V. Conventions of Greek Theatre Why do you think Greek audiences might have needed the simplification that Aristotle’s unities provided? What does it say about their society that violence wasn’t allowed to be shown? What does it say about our society that we allow it to and even sometimes glorify it?
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) 4. hubris: the tragic flaw of pride 5. catharsis: the “purging” or release of emotions the audience feels 6. deus ex machina: a person or god that intervenes in the action
Important Pieces of Greek Culture • You can’t escape your fate • There is no guilty act without a guilty mind • Family is everything • Curses bear power • Truth matters
Important Pieces of Greek Culture • If someone asked you to imitate this type of list for our culture, what would you add to it?