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by: Sophocles
• Born around 496/5 BC to a noble family in
Colonus (now Athens)
• Excelled in music and gymnastics
• Held public office in Athenian Democracy
• Plays written about human destiny and
divine justice
• Themes of innocence, equity, and mercy
• His ideas for plays came from other plays
“Tale of Thebes”
• Changes to play structure attributed to Sophocles:
– Addition of a third actor
– Increase the number of Chorus from 12 to 15
– Gave Chorus more subordinate part while reducing the
number and length of choral roles
– Introduced scene painting
– Abandoned the trilogistic form. Rather than 3 plays
with connected plots, he had 3 plays with unconnected
• Died at age 90 in 406 BC
• Only seven complete plays have survived:
Oedipus Rex
Oedipus at Colonus
Cast of Characters
• Main character and Heroine
• Sister of Ismene, Polyneices, and Eteocles.
• Makes wise decisions based on morality and
• Sister of Antigone, Polyneices, and Eteocles
• Makes choices based on selfish reasons and
• Aunt of Antigone, Ismene, Polyneices and
• Queen of Thebes after Jocasta
• Uncle to Antigone, Ismene, Polyneices, and
• King of Thebes after Oedipus
• Love interest for Antigone.
• Son of Creon
• Blind Prophet
• Tells the future of the other characters
A Sentry
• A guard
• A group of 12 - 15 men who speak as one
• They provide narration and a voice of reason
Greek Tragedy
A Greek Tragedy is a play that emphasizes the
downfall of one of the main characters. The
cause of the downfall is most often the
characters hubris or pride. They are too proud
to change their destructive behavior and end
up harming themselves and others but the end
of the play.
Aristotelian Theory: The
Elements of a Greek Tragedy
Unity of Action
• Tragic plots must have a clear beginning,
middle and end
• The action should be ordered and continuous,
arising through a cause and effect process.
• Events in the play should inspire pity and
terror in its viewers.
The purification of the emotions by vicarious
experience, esp. through the drama
The fault or error which entails the
destruction of the tragic hero
Similar to Hubris= excessive pride
In classical tragedy (and hence in other forms
of drama, fiction, etc.): a point in the plot at
which a sudden reversal of situation occurs.
-Recognition; it was the hero's suddenly becoming
aware of a real situation and therefore the
realization of things as they stood; a perception
that resulted in an insight the hero had into his
relationship with often antagonistic characters
within Aristotelian tragedy.
Scene of Suffering
• Suffering was viewed as a prerequisite for
Humpty Dumpty as a Greek
• Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
• He is a noble protagonist set perilously in a
high place of power
• Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
• Experiences a reversal of situation; he falls
from greatness- his tragic weakness is his
frailty - a thin shell
• The readers feel pity and terror.
• The egg is cracked. He will never sit on the
wall again. He is damaged for ever.
• And the same thing can happen to the
• Go to fast in your car- get a ticket
• Get a high yield stock - end up broke
• Break the law to get into office, end up