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The Tragic Greek Dramas Classical Greek Drama Written for and performed at dramatic competition during Dionysian festival at Athens. Picture: The theater of Dionysus in Athens >>> Written and performed at the height of Athenian glory (5th & 4th centuries B.C.) Greek Dramas and Playwrights Tragedy Sophocles (480-406 B.C.) Euripides (495-406 B.C.) Comedy Aristophanes (448-338? B.C.) Menander (342-291 B.C.) Two Forms of Greek Drama Tragedy About human suffering. Associated with religious celebrations, thus solemn, poetic, and philosophic Based on myth or characters from myth Main character imperfect but admirable and confronted by a difficult moral choice or struggle against hostile forces (human and divine). Main character's struggle ends in defeat and, usually, his or her death; but happy endings not unheard of. Comedy About human comedy Associated with social commentary by means of outspoken farce and baudy actions Based on contemporary characters or events. Main character is parody of contemporary that is being ridiculed Satire plays (brief comic parody of myth) New Comedy (a comedy of errors or situation comedy) Origins of Greek Drama Ritual at Rural Dionysia (7th & 6th cent. B.C.) Origins in orations or choral hymns to Dionysis during rural festivals Chorus and Actors (“answerer” to chorus) Religious celebration Performance at City Dionysia (5th & 4th C. B.C.) Social-Religious Commentary & Entertainment •Orchestra: “dancing space” used by chorus; often included an altar (thymele). •Skene: “tent” or structure behind the stage, with doors and upper levels. •Parodos: “passageways” by which the chorus and actors entered and existed the stage area. •Theatron: “viewing-place” usually part of a hillside overlooking the orchestra. Parts of a Greek Tragedy Simple Structure: After a prologue spoken by one or more characters, the chorus enters, singing and dancing with additional scenes that alternate between spoken sections (episodes) and sung sections (choral odes): Prologue: Spoken by one or two characters before chorus appears, usually giving mythological background. ( Shakespearean plays) Parodos: This is the song sung by the chorus as it first enters the orchestra and dances. Episodes: This is the first of many "episodes” (literally “between odes”), when the characters and chorus talk and main action occurs. Ode: At the end of each episode, the actors leave the stage and the chorus dances and sings a choral ode which usually reflects on the things said and done in the episodes. The rest of the play is an alternation between episodes and odes, until the final scene. Exodos: At the end of play, the chorus exits singing a processional song which usually offers words of wisdom related to the actions and outcome of the play. Tragic Hero Qualities Hubris: arrogance causing transgression against the gods Catharsis: a move from ignorance to knowledge Peripeteia (Peripety): reversal of fortune (fall from grace) Hamartia: weakness that causes the eventual downfall Nemesis: fate that cannot be escaped Sophocles (480-406 B.C.) Considered the greatest of Greek playwrights A prominent citizen of Athens known for his musical, poetic and dramatic talents Wrote more than one hundred twenty tragedies, of which only seven survive His works always contain a moral lesson— usually a caution against pride and religious indifference Most admired for his “Theban” plays—three tragedies about King Oedipus of Thebes and his family Oedipus the King Written second (in series of 3), it’s the first part of the Oedipus plays First performed in 430 B.C. Oedipus the King is the story of a man unwittingly moving ever closer to the unhappy fate he is struggling mightily to avoid. Sophocles's Oedipus Rex is probably the most famous tragedy ever written. It is known by a variety of titles (the most common being Oedipus Rex), including Oedipus the King and Oedipus Tyrannus. Oedipus at Colonus First performed in 405-06 B.C. Published posthumously In the timeline of the plays, the events of Oedipus at Colonus occur after Oedipus the King and before Antigone. The play describes the end of Oedipus' tragic life. Oedipus at Colonus Themes Fate and Prophecy Old Age, Wisdom, and Death Guilt Heroization of Oedipus Historical Context Antigone Chronologically, it is the third of the three Theban plays but was written first First performed in 442 B.C. It is a story that pits the law of the gods“unwritten law”-against the laws of humankind, family ties against civic duty, and man against woman.