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Greek Drama. I. Theater. Fifth century B.C.E (600’s) Plays performed in “ Theatron ” or “ Koilon ,“ a sloping, horseshoe shaped ampitheatre Priest of Dionysus presides over proceedings, sits in front The Theater of Dionysus in Athens holds 17,000.

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I theater
I. Theater

  • Fifth century B.C.E (600’s)

  • Plays performed in “Theatron” or “Koilon,“ a sloping, horseshoe shaped ampitheatre

  • Priest of Dionysus presides over proceedings, sits in front

  • The Theater of Dionysus in Athens holds 17,000


E. Actors perform on the stage (“orchestra”)

F. Stage includes altar and “skene”—the façade of a house.

G. Actors roll out of skene on a cart called the “Eccyclema”

H. Actors playing gods descend from above by a “machine” that lowers.

1. Today Dues ex Machina(“God from the machine”)refers to cheap, illogical endings to a story


Ii the performance
II. The Performance

  • Actors, all male, appear masked, play different parts

  • Playwright directs, casts and acts in his play

  • Drama only occurred during religious festivals

    1. City Dinoysia

    D. Types (a contest was held for the best in each category)

    1. “Dithyramb” a choral ode to Dionysus, sung by 50

    2. Comedy

    3. Tragedy


Iii tragedy
III. Tragedy

  • Begins with prologue

  • Chorus

    • Begins play with song, sings between “acts” or “scenes”

    • Group of 15, sings and dances, usually acts the part of the townspeople or the general public

    • Greek Theater begins as chorus only, but the role of the chorus diminishes as the years go on


Iv aristotle s poetics
IV. Aristotle’s Poetics

  • “Mimesis” (imitation)—the process by which artists impose themselves upon their art (“it is through mimesis that form comes to be imposed upon the artist’s material” [xv])

    • Five sub-elements of Mimesis

      • Plot

      • Character

      • Diction

      • Song

      • Thought


B. “Catharsis”

1. the process by which a story purges one of an emotion; a play arouses feelings of anger, pity, sympathy, then erases that emotion through catharsis

C. “Tragic Flaw/Tragic Hero”

1. Aristotle insists that a play’s hero must be someone respected and prosperous, but not especially virtuous. The tragic hero encounters misfortune due to “some error of judgment…” (qtd. xvii)


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