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And the Greek Gods of Oedipus
Greek Tragedy
Nearly all surviving tragedies were based on myth
Greek tragedies dealt with the big theme of love,
loss, pride, the abuse of power and the relationships
between men and gods.
The protagonist commits a terrible crime without
realizing how foolish and arrogant he has been
Then slowly as the world is “crumbling around him”,
recognizes his error.
Hubris and Hamartia
Hamartia is defined as a tragic human flaw; the
mistake or error that a tragic character commits and
which accounts in part for his misfortunes
Hubris is defined as exaggerated self-pride or
In ancient Greece, to have hubris or to commit an ‘act of
hubris’ was a crime punishable by death.
In a Greek tragedy, hubris leads the protagonist to
break a moral law; he will attempt vainly to transcend
normal limitations or ignore divine warning with
calamitous results; placing one's self equal to the gods
Three Three Great Playwrights
 Most
famous for Oresteia
 Introduced
concept of second actor
 Expanded
possibilities for plot
Innovation of the third actor
Most famous for Oedipus Rex
SOPHOCLES, one of the most influential writers of Ancient
Greece, was most likely born in 497/6 B.C. Probably, his
place of birth is in Attica.
Coming from not an aristocratic, but still a wealthy family,
Sophocles had the opportunity to study all of the arts, starting
with his early years. So, by the time he was sixteen, he was
already known by the community for his knowledge and
talents. Due to this, he was chosen to lead a choir of boys at a
celebration of the victory of Salamis. He completed his studies
twelve years later, when he was ready to show his fresh
dramatic vision. So, during the City Dionysia, a festival held
every year at the Theatre of Dionysus, dedicated to new
plays, he acquired his first success.
Sophocles took first prize, after defeating no other than
Aeschylus himself, the indisputable master of Athenian drama.
And this was just to be the beginning, as Sophocles would go
on winning eighteen first prizes. He wrote more than 120
Created the ultimate form of drama
Far more naturalistic or human approach in his
Showed interest in psychology through portraits of
Euripides (continued)
Medea is most famous work
 Describes
how a mother kills her children to gain
revenge against their father
Gods of Mount Olympus
to Whom the People of Thebes Prayed
“Like children, they need to be reminded of the order of things!”
Apollo is the son of Zeus and
Leto. His twin sister is Artemis.
He is the god of music, playing a
golden lyre. The Archer, far
shooting with a silver bow.
The god of healing who taught
man medicine. The god of light.
The god of truth, who can not
speak a lie. He is famous for his
oracle at Delphi. People travled
to it from all over the greek
world to devine the future.
His tree was the laurel. The crow
his bird. The dolphin his animal.
Oracle at Delphi
Dating back to 1400 BC, the Oracle of Delphi was
the most important shrine in all Greece.
Built around a sacred spring, Delphi was
considered to be the omphalos - the center
(literally navel) of the world.
People came from all over Greece and beyond to
have their questions about the future answered by
the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo. And her
answers, usually cryptic, could determine the course
of everything from when a farmer planted his
seedlings, to when an empire declared war.
Arguments over the correct interpretation of an
oracle were common, but the oracle was always
happy to give another prophecy if more gold was
Zeus was the supreme ruler of the gods. He is lord of the sky, the rain god. His
weapon is a thunderbolt which he hurls at those who displease him. He is married
to Hera but, is famous for his many affairs. He is also known to punish those that lie
or break oaths.
Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto.
Her twin brother is Apollo. She is the lady
of the wild things. She is the huntsman of
the gods. She is the protector of the young.
She is a virgin goddess, and the goddess of
chastity. She also presides over childbirth.
The cypress is her tree. All wild animals
are scared to her, especially the deer.
Athena is the daughter of Zeus. She is the
goddess of the city, handicrafts, and
agriculture. She is the embodiment of
wisdom, reason, and purity.. Her favorite
city is Athens. Her tree is the olive. The owl
is her bird. She is a virgin goddess.
The Theaters
Theater of Dionysos
 Main theater for tragedy
 4th century remains
 c. 20,000 seats
 Located on side of
Theater of Dionysos
Theater of Dionysos
The Theaters
Theater of Epidauros
The best-preserved
 Largest surviving theater
 Located near Argos
in the Peloponnesus
 Sanctuary of Aesclepius
 Still in use today
Theater of Epidauros
Theater of Epidauros
The Theaters
Theater of Pergamon
In Asia Minor (Turkey)
 Extremely steep seating
 Fit to the terrain
 Pergamon one of the most
wealthy Asian cities
Theater of Pergamon
Discovery Channel: Ancient Greek Theatre
Click on title to open video
The Staging of Tragedy
“Classical theater resembled today’s rock concerts: the
audience knew every number by heart, performers wore high
heels, loud costumes and heavy make-up, and they relied on
background singers, known as the Chorus.”
-Howard Tomb
Actors wore highly stylized masks
The Chorus
The Chorus’
role was to
express the
ideas of the
playwright —
to praise the
gods and
explain their