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Greek Tragedy Introduction

Covers the basics about Greek tragedies and the myth of Oedipus to prepare for reading "Antigone"

Michael Pearl

on 18 March 2011

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Transcript of Greek Tragedy Introduction

Greek Drama Tragedy Greeks perfected the study
of the tragedy, turning it into
an artform worthy of the stage. A tragedy usually follows
a tragic hero, following
his/her progression towards
understanding and destruction.
Remember: Okonkwo The purpose of the tragedy is to elicit an
emotional reaction:
CATHARSIS The Theater of the Greeks Plays were produced and
presented during a
religious festival dedicated
to the Greek god Dionysus. Plays were performed in
massive amphitheaters
without microphones, so
actors had to project their
voices and use expressive
body language. All actors were men,
and there were no more
than three actors in any
production. Thus all actors
played multiple roles. Plays also included a chorus:
a group of actors who danced
and sang in unison. They come
between scenes and often were
the voice of the people.

Modern example: Oompa Loompas All plays took place over the
course of a single day.

They always take place in a
single location to avoid
set changes.

Violent scenes occur off-stage
and are described by
on-lookers (no special effects). Audiences knew what would happen,
even if characters did not, creating

This gave people a sense of what
the gods feel when they watched
people and helped people to better
understand god (since this was
a religious experience). The Myth of Oedipus
(Freud's favorite story ever) The myth begins with a king, Laius,
and his wife, Jocasta, who want a
child. The Oracle warns them:

If you ever have a child, he will
kill his father and marry his mother.

But they have a child anyway. To avoid such a horrible fate,
they give the child to a shepherd
with instructions to leave it to die.

The shepherd takes pity on the
baby and takes him to nearby
Corinth, where the Corinthian
king and queen adopt the baby. As a man, Oedipus (named for his
Swollen Feet from a pin in his foot
as a baby), learns of the prophecy.

Fearing it might come true, he leaves
Corinth, not realizing he is adopted. While out, he runs into Laius,
who demands that Oedipus
move out of the road for his
chariot. Oedipus refuses and
ultimately kills the guy.

The father is dead! At the city of Thebes, a sphinx is terrorizing
the people with a riddle:

what has four legs in the morning,
two legs in the afternoon,
and three legs in the evening?

Answer wrong, and the Sphinx eats you.

Oedipus answers, "man," defeating the Sphinx.

As a reward he becomes the new king AND
marries the queen... his mother. Oedipus must now find the murderer
of the previous king. We all know it's him.
He does not yet know. Even when signs
suggest it's him, he refuses to believe,
because it would mean he's married his
mother and had children with her. Upon learning the truth, Oedipus'
mother hangs herself.

Oedipus finds her body, removes
a broach/pin, and gouges out his eyeballs
(because he did not "see" the truth). Oedipus leaves the city, banished
as a murderer of the king.

Creon, his uncle/brother, becomes
the king and is instructed to care
for Oedipus' daughters,
Ismene and Antigone.

Oedipus' two sons, Eteocles
and Polyneices, grow up and fight
for the throne, killing each other.

This is the start of the play, "Antigone"... Greek Drama Ew, say the Greeks and us
Full transcript