Greek Tragedy An overview of Ancient Greek Theatre
It’s all Greek to Me! Origin of Greek Vocabulary • “theater” -derived from Greek word theatron, “to view as spectators” • drama --Greek word meaning “action” • hypokrites - the Greek word for “actor” • First actor to dance was Thespis
Quick Facts! • Theater began in 5th Century Athens. • It began as a dance, much like tribal dances elsewhere. • Performances began with one actor, then two. Sophocles was the first to add three actors to any performance. • All actors wore masks to show emotions.
City of Dionysia (Festival of Dionysus) • Seven days of the year • 4 in Spring (Tragedy) • 3 in Winter (Comedy) • Each playwright presented 3 plays and a satyr play • Performances dedicated to god Dionysus
Greek Theaters • Orchestra • Theatron • Skene • Parados
The Chorus • In Greek, choros means “dance” not “song” as it does today. • The chorus in Greek plays was a group of dancers originally. • Standard chorus was 12. Sophocles raised it to 15. • Main speaker (Choragus) even had dialogue with the actors
Greek Theaters • Plays were performed to worship the god Dionysus, the god of wine, fertility in nature, and agriculture.
Greek Theaters • Dionysus, where many of Sophocles’ plays were performed • Located in Athens
Greek Theaters, Continued Ancient Theater of Epidarus, located in a small town near the city of Athens
Actors & Costumes • Actors were male • 3 or less on stage at one time • Women could watch plays, but could not participate • Costumes were usually simple • Masks showed identity • Clothing was simple, rarely specialized
Masks in Greek Drama • Different masks for different plays and roles • Men / Women • Old / Young • Rich / Poor • 28 for tragedy plays • 44 for comedy plays • Some realistic, some caricatured
Actors & Costumes Mosaic of actors from 5th Century – Pompeii, Italy
Music in Theater • Music created mood effect • Suspense • Romance • Surprise • Wrath • Several Key Instruments • Flute • Trumpet • Lyre • Percussion • Comparative to Oriental sounds
Famous Playwrights • 5th Century BC • (499-401) • Aeschylus – tragedy • celebrated people rising above anarchy into civilized society • Euripides – tragedy • (deus ex machina endings) • Sophocles – tragedy • Wrote Theban cycle • Poetic writing • Aristophanes – comedy • First to write satirical political commentary
Four Qualities of Greek Drama • Performed for special occasions (festivals) • Competitive (prizes awarded) • Choral (singing was highly valued) • Closely associated with religion
Tragedy: Basic Structure Prologue: Spoken by 1 or 2 characters before chorus appears. • Parodos: Song sung by chorus as it first enters the orchestra & dances. • First Episode: First of many "episodes," when characters & chorus talk. • First Stasimon: At the end of each episode, other characters usually leave stage, & chorus dances & sings a stasimon, or choral ode. The rest of the play alternates between episodes & stasima, until the final scene... • Exodos: At the play’s end, chorus exits singing a processional song which usually offers words of wisdom related to the play’s actions and outcome.
Elements of The Tragic Hero 1, Born of nobility 2. Responsible for their own fate 3. Accept death with honor 4. Meets a tragic death 6. Endowed with a tragic flaw 7. Doomed to make a serious error in judgment that leads to their downfall.
Tragic Hero Vocabulary • Anagoris – Tragic recognition or insight • moment of clarity in the mind of the tragic hero as he suddenly realizes the web of fate he is entangled
Tragic Hero Vocabulary • Hubris– Exaggerated self-pride or self confidence • Often results in a fatal retribution and ultimately the tragic hero’s downfall
Tragic Hero Vocabulary • Peripateia– Plot reversal • Pivotal or crucial action on the part of the protagonist that changes the situation from seemingly secure to vulnerable
Tragic Hero Vocabulary • Hamartia– Tragic Error • Fatal error or simple mistake on the part of the protagonist that eventually leads to the final catastrophe. “A shot that misses the bull’s eye.”
Characteristics of Sophocles’ Plays • emphasis on individual characters • reduced role of chorus • complex characters, psychologically well-motivated • characters subjected to crisis leading to suffering and self-recognition - including a higher law above man • exposition carefully motivated • scenes suspensefully climactic • action clear and logical • poetry clear and beautiful • few elaborate visual effects • theme emphasized: the choices of people
Tragedy: NeverEnding! • Kommos: emotional song of sorrow • Paean: a hymn appealing to the gods for assistance
Greek Mythological Characters • Zeus: supreme deity (god) of Greeks, storm god w/thunderbolt, promiscuous • Athena: virgin goddess of wisdom, warrior, goddess of the arts and of Athens • Apollo: Zeus’s son; god of light, intelligence, healing, the arts; shrine at Delphi • Artemis: Apollo’s twin sister & daughter of Zeus, goddess of chastity • Pan: son of Hermes, god of flocks, head of man & hindquarters & horns of a goat, musician • Hermes: cleverest of gods, ruled with wealth and good fortune, messenger of the gods
Riddle of the Sphinx • Q: What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening? • A: Man
Riddle of the Sphinx • Q: What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon, and on three legs in the evening?