Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Intro to Greek Tragedy

Above: Bust of Sophocles, 4th century BC

Tragic Hero:

-Has tragic flaw, usu. hubris: Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance

-Goes from high to low

-Is an important person

-Suffers psychically/emotionally

Characteristics of Greek drama:

-Uses story that will be familiar to audience

-Late point of attack - point in story after the characters and setting are established, but a little while before the climax

-Violence takes place offstage

-Messengers used to tell characters about offstage action

-catharsis: emotional purgation that returns balance (Oedipus is banished and Thebes is restored)

-arouses pity and fear in audience

Actors: all men, usu. 3 actors who played multiple parts, masks

Chorus: comments on play, dialogue w/actors, sings and dances


Prologue - one or two characters give mythological background of play

Parodos - chorus enters - they are the "moral voice" of the play

Episode - action with characters, dialogue, monologue

Stasimon - chorus summarizes previous episode in verse

Exodos - end of play; chorus gives speech, "moral of the story"


- 3 male actors represented all characters, using masks

- chorus of 12, some could act as incidental, non-speaking characters (like Oedipus' daughters Antigone and Ismene)

Sophocles (born 495 BC, died 405 BC)

- only 7 out of his 120 plays remain

-1st playwright to add third actor

-1st playwright to write tragedies that stand on their own, not as part of a trilogy

Origins of Greek Drama

-late 7th century BC, first plays called "tragedoi," sung by groups of men dressed as satyrs

-6th century BC, Pisistratus creates Dionysia, a 3-day state religious festival in Athens

-Thespis was a famous actor and the first playwright, winning the Dionysia in 536-533

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