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Sophocles’ Antigone. Introduction/Background. Here’s what we’re going to talk about. I. Social/Political Background II. Religious Ideas III. Origins of Greek Drama IV. Stage Conventions of Greek Theater V. Important Literary Terms for the Play

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sophocles antigone

Sophocles’ Antigone


here s what we re going to talk about
Here’s what we’re going to talk about...

I. Social/Political Background

II. Religious Ideas

III. Origins of Greek Drama

IV. Stage Conventions of Greek Theater

V. Important Literary Terms for the Play

DO take notes. This material DOES appear on the final exam.

i social and political background
I. Social and Political Background

Sophocles, born in Athens, Greece in 497 BC, is most famous Greek dramatist.

Athenian government was an exclusive democracy. Only 10% of population could vote (not women, slaves, “non-citizens”).

Sophocles was aware of this injustice.

His plays warn of the destruction that comes from prejudices and poor living conditions.

ii religious ideas
II. Religious Ideas

Greeks worshipped numerous gods who had human attributes

Greeks believed in FATE as a divine force, stronger than gods

Greeks used omens, dreams, oracles, and soothsayers to determine will of the gods

Greeks believed gods became angry with those who were guilty of pride or excess

ii religious ideas continued
II. Religious Ideas (continued)

Greeks focused on daily life, but did write of the immortality of the soul in Hades

One important religious duty is the burial of dead relatives (hint: this is a crucial plot point in Antigone).

iii origins of greek drama
III. Origins of Greek Drama

To celebrate the gods, Greeks held religious rituals and drama was an important part of the rituals

All people attended these rituals to honor the god Dionysus, who suffered, died and was resurrected. These tragedies follow this model.

These plays were choral lyrics

Tragedies were based on myths, presented in order to teach a moral lesson

iii origins continued
III. Origins (continued)

Greek tragedy focuses on the TRAGIC HERO: a great man who has one tragic flaw that brings about his downfall.

As the hero accepts the consequences of his errors, he teaches the audience the truth of life

The people watching experience CATHARSIS. At the end the audience is purged, drained of emotions to better understand life

iv stage conventions
IV. Stage Conventions

Performed during day, all actors were male.

No violence shown on stage because of religious dignity

THREE UNITIES: 1) Time (takes place in 24hrs), 2) Place (one setting), and 3) Action (one main character, no sub-plots)

Messengers tell about off-stage action

iv stage conventions continued
IV. Stage Conventions (continued)

Use of dramatic irony

Use of chorus to represent citizens. Always on stage, sang and danced. Has a leader to carry on dialogue with characters. They set the tone, give background, ask questions, summarize, act like a jury, give advise, etc.

v terms and definitions
V. Terms and Definitions

Apostrophe: directly addressing person, place or thing, living or dead or absent


Motif: Repeated situation, incident, or image that is significant

Dramatic irony: audience knows more that the character, knows the character is wrong

Structural irony: Use of naïve hero with incorrect perceptions

Verbal irony: sarcasm; discrepancy between what is said and what is meant