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Literary and Aesthetic Ideas and Influences

In the Greek Tragedy; Agamemnon.

Denisa Patron

on 29 May 2013

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Transcript of Literary and Aesthetic Ideas and Influences

On Agamemnon, a Greek Tragedy The Literary and Aesthetic
Ideas and Influences Background Knowledge Question Time Agamemnon is the first play in the trilogy known as The Oresteia Aeschylus had many influences. Some are of the following: Aeschylus' Influences Performers & Performances Greek Theater As most of you know, there were different gender roles back in ancient times. These different gender roles are also in Ancient Greece. Men and Women Now knowing of Aeschylus' Influences, do you think that his work is just one of those retellings of stories or is it original?
The Theater was made in this way, why do you think it was so significant to how the story is told?
The differences in roles between women and men in Ancient Greece is significant, what makes you think Clytemnestra's role was written like this?
Why do you think that Aeschylus added a second character? Based on what Aristotle says, do you think it was a good idea/choice?
In your opinion, what/who do you think was the biggest influence to writing Agamemnon? DID YOU KNOW? The play originally had four parts, but only the three of the four were found. The Oresteia consists of Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, and Eumenides. it was written by Aeschylus Homer Persian Wars Leonidas Solon Lived around the 8th century B.C. 540 - 480 B.C. 638 - 558 B.C. 525 BC – 456 BC Formal structure and Characteristics of Tragedy The Uses of the Chorus in Greek Tragedy CITY OF TROY The following are the main elements of a typical tragedy: Men and Woman Language, Imagery, Motifs, and Themes PROLOGUE:
describes the situation and sets the scene
a monologue or dialogue presenting the tragedy's topic

the entry of the chorus
they explain what has happened leading up to this point
the poetic meter is often anapestic (two short syllables followed by a long syllable), with a “marching” effect (McManus.)

the main section of the play, where most of the plot occurs
consisted primarily on spoken dialogue
there are typically 3-5 episodes
the chorus often interacts with the actors (one or two)
the poetic meter is usually iambic (one short syllable followed by a long syllable) or occasionally trochaic (one long syllable followed by a short syllable) (McManus.)
each episode is terminated by a stasimon

the chorus comments upon the episode to the audience
at times the stasimon was replaced by a lyric duet between the lead actor and the chorus, called a kommos
occurs at the end of each episode

final chorus chant (climax and conclusion; exit ode)
the moral of the tragedy is discussed 490 B.C. and 480-479 B.C. Literary Theories and Criticisms Who is this guy? It's Aristotle Structure of a Typical Tragedy: Prologue
First Episode
First Stasimon
Second Episode
Second Stasimon
Third Episode
Third Stasimon
Fourth Episode
Fourth Stasimon
Exodos first actor is called the protagonist (Clytaemestra)
second actor is called the deuteragonist (Cassandra)
third actor is called the tritagonist (watchman, herald, Agamemnon, and Aegisthus)
(these three terms apply to the characters of a play, not the actor)
there is never more than three speaking actors in the play
men played the role of women
the use of different masks, costumes, and props allowed actors to perform multiple roles
the chorus could be comprised of 12 to 15 performers originated in 5th century B.C. in Athens
the word "theater" comes from the word theatron (viewing area for the audience)
theatrical performances were religious and political
performances were outdoors, often on hillsides
theaters had impressive acoustics, giving actors good projecting voices
actors changed their appearance in the skene (scene building) The Theater the chorus was the basis from which tragedy evolved
intensifies the poetic texture with vivid imagery
provide audience with a psychological and emotional background to the action
to introduce and question new characters
to point out the significance of events as they occurred
to cover the passage of time between events
to separate episodes 384 B.C. – 322 B.C. CITY OF ARGOS Homer’s epics are considered the basis of Western literature (Tighe) He is one of the first to contribute to theater
He was also a prime source of authority for knowledge, behaviour, and ethics (Goldhill)
Everyone knew of him as "Homer was the text first learned in and most studied at all levels of Greek education," (Goldhill)
The personality of the characters in this tragic play are similar to Homer's
There is also a similarity between Homeric plays with tragic plays
The Women in Homeric plays provided a prototype for female roles in Greek Tragedy (Tighe) & Solo Characters Works Cited by Anita Deng and Denisa Patron On Woman "Aeschylus." Aeschylus. 07 Feb. 2013 <http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Aeschylus.html>.
"Aeschylus: Agamemnon." Aeschylus: Agamemnon: Gender Roles. 07 Feb. 2013 <http://sites.duke.edu/agamemnon/the-mind-of-aeschylus/gender-roles/>.
"Ancient Greece - Everyday Life." The British Museum. The British Museum, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2013. <http://www.britishmuseum.org/PDF/Visit_Greece_EverydayLife_KS2.pdf>.
"Aristotle: Poetics." Aristotle Poetics. Department of English, n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2013. <http://www.english.hawaii.edu/criticalink/aristotle/index.html>.
"Aristotle's Poetics." Aristotle's Poetics. AbleMedia, n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2013. <http://ablemedia.com/ctcweb/netshots/aristotl.htm>.
"Explore The Tragic Structure." CITY DIONYSIA - THE ANCIENT ROOTS OF MODERN THEATER. The Kennedy Center, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2013. <http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/interactives/greece/theater/playsTragicStructure.html>.
"Famous Greeks: Leonidas." Greece Famous People: Leonidas, the leader of the Battle of Thermopylae. 06 Feb. 2013 <http://www.greeka.com/greece-famous-people/leonidas.htm>.
"Famous Greeks: Solon." Greece Famous People: Solon, the Athenian politician and lawmaker. 06 Feb. 2013 <http://www.greeka.com/greece-famous-people/solon.htm>.
Fonseca, Ruben. "Ancient Greek Theater." Cartage. 3 Feb 2013 <http://www.cartage.org.lb/en/themes/arts/architec/ancientarchitectural/greekarchitecture/greekbuilding/theater.htm>.
"Greece Famous People: Leonidas, the Leader of the Battle of Thermopylae." Famous Greeks: Leonidas. Greeka, n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2013. <http://www.greeka.com/greece-famous-people/leonidas.htm>.
"Structure of Tragedy." Structure of Tragedy. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2013. <http://ucbclassics.dreamhosters.com/djm/classes/Structure.html>.
Dunkle, Roger. "Introduction to Greek Tragedy." Introduction to Greek Tragedy. Brooklyn College, The City University of New York., 1986. Web. 06 Feb. 2013. <http://ablemedia.com/ctcweb/netshots/tragedy.htm>.
Gill, N.S. "Facts About Greek Tragedy and Comedy." About.com Ancient / Classical History. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2013. <http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/greekliterature/a/GreekTheater_2.htm>.
Goldhill, Simon. Aeschylus, the Oresteia: A Student Guide. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. Print.
Milch, Robert J. “About Agamemnon, The Choephori, and The Eumenides.” CliffsNotes. 3 Feb 2013 <http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/literature/agamemnon-choephori-eumenides/about.html>.
Milch, Robert J. “Critical Essay: Aristotle on Tragedy.” CliffsNotes. 3 Feb 2013 < http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/literature/agamemnon-choephori-eumenides/critical-essay/aristotle-tragedy.html>.
"Solon the Law Giver" Birth of Democracy. 3 Feb 2013 <http://www.agathe.gr/democracy/solon_the_lawgiver.html>.
Tighe, Becky. Xavier University, n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2013. <http://www.xavier.edu/classics/documents/Theses/Becky_Tighe.pdf>. In ancient Greece, women had the responsibility for looking after the home and for producing children. They had important roles in some aspects of religion. ("Ancient Greece: Everyday Life" ) Most women lead a more domestic way of life.

They had what some would call a "simpler" life. Because of this, they are often thought of as less and insignificant compared to men, which is seen through this play, Agamemnon. On Men Men also have responsibilities, but of a different type. They would typically be related to physical work or for educational purposes (as women didn't get educated). For example, men were typically either training in military, discussing politics or just working.

Through this, we can see the difference between the gender roles with women and men in Ancient Greek Times. ekkyklema
- a platform on wheels rolled out through the doors of the skene
- reveals dead body of a character, which is unseen by the audience

The body of Agamemnon and Cassandra are wheeled though the doors of the skene to reveal the offstage murder.

- theatrical machine, used most often to represent flight
- actor portraying a god or goddess is placed on top of the skene allowing them to address the human characters from a high level orchestra: Circular area at ground level where the chorus dances.

proscenium (stage): Area where the actions take place.

parados (paradoi): Passage on the left or right where the chorus enters.

thymele (altar): Altar in the center of the orchestra used to make sacrifices to Dionysus.

skene (scene building): Building behind the stage, which is used as a dressing area for actors and serves as a background of the play.

theatron (seating area): The audience sits in stone seats that are arranged in tiers (rows of seats in rising series). Parts of a Greek Theater The Chorus The tragedies of Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles followed strict structure and form, which was designed to effectively communicate not only the story of the play, but also the underlying moral to the audience ("Explore The Tragic Structure"). Who is this guy? And how was he Aeschylus' Influence? Leonidas is the "Legendary King of Sparta" ("Famous Greeks: Leonidas").
He is best known for the battle of Thermopylae. He is the son of King Anaxandrias II of Sparta (who was supposedly a descendant of Heracles).

Thermopylae is a narrow passage in Central Greece
he only had an army of 300 and went to meet up with the Greek army, now all together about 7000 soldiers
he sacrificed himself, saving many other Greeks when the Persian Army surrounded them
he succeeded his half-brother to the throne

Leonidas' personality and family is similar to Agamemnon's. Solon, an Athenian Politician and Law Maker Solon was an Athenian politician, lawmaker, and poet. He contributed to creating what we now call a democracy.
He gave any citizen the right to take legal action on behalf of another citizen and forced every man to take part in wars. ("Famous Greeks: Solon")
He set enslaved Athenian free and relieved them from their debt.
Permitted all citizens to participate in Ekklesia to discuss public issues.
Aeschylus uses this to show how the monarchy rule in Agamemnon is not as efficient or beneficial to the city like a democracy.
If Agamemnon's time were a democracy, things may have ended differently. Agamemnon He is prideful and believes himself to be a conquering hero.
A wild and bloody lion swarmed above the towers of Troy to glut its hunger lapping at the blood of kings. (827-828)
He is also seen as a man made to suffer for the sins of his father, through Aegisthus.
now that I see this man--sweet sight--before me here sprawled in the tangling nets of fury, to atone the calculated evil of his father's hand. (1580- 1583) Clytemnestra Some tragedies have one more or one less episode and stasimon. Clytemnestra is seen as a destructive force within this play.
She is also unfeminine as she rules Argos.
To such end a lady's male strength of heart in its high confidence ordains. (10-11)
She wants to have revenge against Agamemnon for sacrificing their daughter, Iphigenia.
The secret anger remembers the child that shall be avenged. (155)
She is also determined and feels that what she has done is justice.
I stand now where I struck him down. The thing is done. Thus I have wrought, and I will not deny it now. (1379-1380)
This man deserved, more than deserved, such sacrament. (1396)
Clytemnestra begins to wonder what she has done, showing her femininity.
If this is the end of suffering,we can be content broken as we are by the brute heel of angry destiny. (1659-1660) Cassandra She is the prophet who foresees Agamemnon's death. The Persian Wars Aeschylus had fought in the Persian Wars, and his experiences can be seen in this play, Agamemnon. The descriptions of the Trojan War in Agamemnon are vivid and detailed, as Aeschylus understands how War actually is. Prologue (1-39)
Parodos (40-257)
First Episode (258-354)
First Stasimon (355-474)
Second Episode (475-860)
Second Stasimon (681-781)
Third Episode (783-974)
Third Stasimon (975-1034)
Fourth Episode (1035-1068)
Kommos (replacing Fourth Stasimon—1069-1177)
Fifth Episode (1178-1447)
Kommos (replacing Fifth Stasimon—1448-1576)
Sixth Episode (1577-1673)

There is no exodos because the chorus simply leaves quietly as the scene ends (McManus). Structure in Agamemnon: Examples of the Chorus in different Greek plays: Agamemnon: comprises of the elderly men of Argos

Euripides’ The Bacchea: a group of eastern bacchants (which are priests or priestesses or even a drunken reveler)

Sophocle’s Electra: made up of the women of Argos

Aeschylus' The Suppliants: the chorus was a central figure in the tragedy rather than a group of bystanders The use of the Chorus differs depending on the method of the playwright. Cassandra was taken as a Concubine for Agamemnon.
She has lines which add depth into her character, where no one believes her prophecies.
[Cassandra] I tell you, you shall look on Agamemnon dead.
[Chorus] Peace, peace poor woman; put those bitter lips to sleep.
Cassandra is used to show how this ending is inescapable.
Useless; there is no god of healing in this story. (1248) The chorus knows of what has happened, what is happening, and forebodes what will happen. Aegisthus He is seen only in the end of the play but he is also an important character. In Homers Illiad, Aegisthus is the one who kills Agamemnon, not Clytemnestra. But in Agamemnon, he is seen supporting Clytemnestra to kill Agamemnon as he also sought revenge because Agamemnon's father had killed his two brothers.

He is also Clytemnestra's new lover. Iphigenia The sacrificed daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. She was killed to help gain favour from the Gods so they could win the Trojan War.
She is the reason why Clytemnestra wants to kill Agamemnon.
She, in a way, causes the story to go the way it did.
The whole story could have ended differently. The Herald & The Watchman The Herald and the Watchman announces the fall of Troy. Aristotle's View on Tragedy They contribute to foreshadowing Agamemnon's entrance, and show fear of what is going to happen next.
They both show loyalty toward the king and look forward to the King's return. Poetics - Aristotle was the founder of literary criticism
- his Poetics is the most important work of literary theory and is the most influential of all his works
- contains valuable information on the origins, methods, and purposes of tragedy (“Critical Essay: Aristotle on Tragedy.”)
- six major components: plot, character, diction, thoughts/themes, spectacle (scenic effect), and lyric/song (“Critical Essay: Aristotle on Tragedy.”)
- his objective was to give advice on writing tragedy to contemporary poets Themes: Retribution and Revenge
Gender Rivalry
Fickleness of the Gods Motifs: Infidelity
Blood Language: Imagery: Retribution and Revenge: Gender Rivalry: The dialogue is called stichomythia when it consists of a rapid exchange between two actors each speaking “one liners." (McManus.)

In Agamemnon, this is evident in the dialogue between the Chorus and Cassandra. On Troy
The Gods
Agamemnons Death (and Prophecies) Poetic
Full of Metaphors
Emotion Fickleness of the Gods: The gods of ancient Greece required humankind to pay for its sins.
Children inherit the sins of their parents
Revenge for Iphigenia and fathers sins Greece was male Dominated and women had lesser roles
Clytemnestra is a strong woman who rivals against Agememnon The Gods chose to work with the Greeks or the Trojans
Artemis exhibited hypocrisy Infidelity: Both Agamemnon and Clytemnestra commit adultery
Cassandra is taken to be a Concubine
Aegisthus is Clytemnestra's lover Power: Clytemnestra and Agamemnon's rivalry for Power over Argos
Power of the Gods Blood: Cassandra's Prophecies
Agamemnon's death According to Aristotle, he expanded the number of characters in plays to allow for conflict among them; previously, characters interacted only with the chorus. ("Aeschylus")

He called plays Catharsis
Catharsis is most often defined as the "purging" of the emotions of pity and fear that occurs when we watch a tragedy. ("Aeschylus")

- his view of the ideal tragedy is based on Sophocles' Oedipus the King
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