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Introduction to Ancient Greek Tragedy

Introduction to Ancient Greek Tragedy

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Introduction to Ancient Greek Tragedy

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  1. Introduction to Ancient Greek Tragedy

  2. Life in Ancient Greece • Greece reached its peek in the 6th and 5th centuries, specifically in Athens

  3. Athens: The Place to Be: • Named after the goddess Athena • Birthplace of Democracy • Center of commerce and arts

  4. Athens was on the cutting edge of… • Philosophy • Art • History • Politics • Architecture

  5. Athens Sculptures • Realistic figures in bronze and marble • Perfect human form • Influence still felt today • Our desire to look perfect has its origins in Greek sculpture

  6. Physical Excellence • Emphasis on physical training • No standing army, so this ensured “instant soldiers”

  7. Physical Excellence • Athletic games were held in Olympia, the Olympics • Olive wreaths, a symbol of peace and a major industry

  8. 2. Greek Tragedy • Ancient Greeks invented the art of drama • Some plays from Ancient Greece are still performed today

  9. Modern Words from Tragedy • Orchestra • Thespian • Drama • Dialogue • Skene • Comedy • Tragedy

  10. Greek Tragedy • Wealthy Athenians subsidized plays • Plays performed annually at the spring festival of Dionysus

  11. Greek Tragedy: Dionysus • March/early April • Disrupted city life and could not be contained—the ultimate block party! • Tragedy competition • Satyr (means, Risque) competition

  12. Greek Tragedy: Playwrights • Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.) • Sophocles (496-406 B.C.) • Euripides (485-406 B.C.)

  13. Greek Tragedy: Plays • Going to the plays was exceptionally popular • Day-long Performances • Theater was a sacrament, a form of worship

  14. Greek Tragedy: Plays • Plays were performed in large semi-circle, outdoor amphitheaters made of stone or wood • 15,000 to 17,000 spectators (all male)

  15. Amphitheaters

  16. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OywHbxZze8o&feature=PlayList&p=E0E10A7C0B790392&index=0http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OywHbxZze8o&feature=PlayList&p=E0E10A7C0B790392&index=0 • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwOR4y7JDrY&feature=PlayList&p=E0E10A7C0B790392&index=8 • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLDXzJEgIVk&feature=PlayList&p=E0E10A7C0B790392&index=11

  17. The Theater of Dionysus Today

  18. The Theater of Dionysus in Athens, Greece Restored by the emperor Nero in 68 A.D. (Computer recreation)

  19. Theater of Epidauros (built 330 B.C., near modern day Nauplion, Greece)

  20. Epidauros

  21. Epidauros

  22. Greek Tragedy: Scenery and Costume • Minimal Scenery and props • Platform shoes, and elongated togas with high waistbands • Masks stood for characters: • Grief -Happiness • Anger -Bearded King • Old Man -Young Girl

  23. Masks in Greek Theater • Masks portray character types or character emotions • Fit over the head • Wig attached • Large mouth openings for speech

  24. Tragic and Comic Masks

  25. Greek Tragedy: Theatrical Machines (mechanai) The ekkyklema (“a wheeled-out thing”) was a cart on wheels which carried a dead body onto the stage. It was sacrilegious to show a character actually dying on the stage.

  26. Greek Tragedy: Theatrical Machines (mechanai) • The mechane (machine) was a crane-like machine that could lift a character up as if flying, or could carry an actor, usually in the guise of a god, to the top of the skene.

  27. Greek Tragedy: Chorus and Actors

  28. Greek Tragedy: Who could be in the Chorus? • males • trained by a poet to sing and dance • twelve or fifteen, depending on when the play was written • the leader was called the coryphaeus (“head man” or “leader”) • All men • Chanted or danced

  29. Greek Tragedy: Chorus • Chorus • Provided “emotional bridge” • How? Through its five functions.

  30. Greek Tragedy: Chorus • Five Functions of Chorus • Set the mood • Represent common person • Takes a moral side/stand • Will warn characters • Expresses itself in common language, which is usually in contrast with hero

  31. Greek Tragedy: Actors • Who could be an actor? • Males

  32. Greek Tragedy: Actors • One to three actors • For most of the 5th century, no more than three were used

  33. Greek Tragedy: Conventions • Play Observed Aristotle’s unities of time, place, and action • Time: Took place during a twenty-four hour period • Place: One setting • Action: No subplots

  34. Greek Tragedy: Conventions • All violence took place off stage • Emotions of characters most important elements of play

  35. Greek Tragedy: Tragic Hero/Protagonist • Worthy • Mature • Imperfect • Disaster will befall him/her • Believes in his freedom to make choices • Hubris • Suffers • Transfiguration—Becomes a better person • His/her tragedy causes a life reflection

  36. Greek Tragedy: Structure • Encroachment • Bites off more than he can chew

  37. Greek Tragedy: Structure • Complication • Forces build up against the hero • Events become so complex that no single action can resolve them

  38. Greek Tragedy: Structure • Reversal • Clear to audience that hero’s expectations are mistaken • Hero might have a suspicion as to where his actions will take him. Usually, he/she is ignorant though.

  39. Greek Tragedy: Structure • Catastrophe • Moment hero realizes full guilt • Hero realizes helplessness in the hands of the gods

  40. Greek Tragedy: Structure • Recognition • Chorus suggests a larger order and sense of life exists beyond the hero’s downfall • Catharsis

  41. What is Catharsis? • Literally means “to purge” or “to purify”—to cleanse. • For a tragedy, catharsis references • The release of pent up emotions or energy (many times negative)

  42. Antigone

  43. 3. Antigone • Theme: What is the higher law: humankind’s or the gods’?

  44. Family Tree (Immediate) • King Oedipus (deceased) • Queen Jocasta (deceased) • Eteocles (son) • Polynices (son) • Antigone (daughter) • Ismene (daughter)

  45. Family Tree (Extended) • King Creon (Uncle: Jocasta’s brother) • Queen Eurydice (Aunt) • Haemon (Cousin and Fiance)