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Transcript of Greek Drama
In 534 B.C. Pisistratus, the ruler of Athens, changed the Dionysian Festivals into drama competitions.
Poetikes: things that are made or crafted
The Poetics, written in about 330 B.C., is an extensive work on the art of dramatic literature, but only 26 chapters survived.
Aristotle, the third of the great trio of Greek philosophers and a tutor of Alexander the Great, wrote several treatises which his students compiled.
It's main focus is on Greek Tragedy; the part on comedy is now lost, apparently. It also discusses epic poetry, with the Iliad and the Odyssey as examples.
He set up a school in a grove sacred to Apollo Lyceus in the northeastern part of Athens.
It is believed to be Aristotle's response to Plato's attack on art. Aristotle considers art as more universal and the poet as above the historian.
The Rites of Dionysus
The theater of Ancient Greece evolved from religious rites for the worship of Dionysus.
series of odes about the love, life, and adventures of Dionysus
performed by a chorus of 50 men dressed as satyrs
turned into festivals with presentations of myths in a satiric nature
Small Dionysia - December
Lenea - January
Great Dionysia - March
Instead of the gaiety and parody, the presentations dealt with the relationship of man with the gods, and tried to illustrate some particular lesson in life.
tragos (goat) + ode (song) = tragoidia (goat song)
Choregos or wealthy patrons financed the production
Admission was free or very nominal
Attendance was required
Three tragedies + one satyr play (comedy)
Thespis - the first winner of the competition, created the first actor which he called "hypocrite"
Aeschylus introduced the second actor
Sophocles created the third actor
rough wooden platforms or carts on the hillsides
permanent amphitheaters by the end of the 5th century
mobile wooden spectator's seats and wooden performing areas
Theater of Dionysus in Athens
Theater at Epidaurus
Theater at Delphi
The Great Greek Dramatists
Aeschylus (525-456 BC)
fought against the Persians in Marathon and Salamis
introduced the second actor
wrote about 90 plays, winning 13 or 28 prizes
Seven Against Thebes
Sophocles (496-406 BC)
defeated Aeschylus in 468
won around 20 first place prizes
increased the actors to three
invented skenographia (scene painting) to define the background
seven out of 100 of his tragedies survived
Oedipus at Colonus
Euripides (484-407 BC)
enhanced the importance of intrigue
wrote about women and mythological themes
influenced the creation of the New Comedy
won 4 first place prizes
some of his surviving tragedies are
The Trojan Women
Iphigeneia in Tauris
represented the Old Comedy
wrote 40 plays, 11 survived
won six times
Tragedy is "an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and possessing magnitude; in embellished language, each kind of which is used separately in different parts; in the mode of action and not narrated; and effecting through pity and fear the catharsis of such emotions."
imitation of an action
serious, aims to prove a point
embellished language, used in different parts
the stage, appearance of the actors
the plot must be serious and of great moral significance
plots are known by the audience
the plot is complete
the story is tightly knit, all events must take place within 24 hours
reversal of fortune (peripeteia)
arouse both pity and fear from the audience
must have a clear resolution
the end of the drama results to
purgation or purification (catharsis)
The Tragic Hero
of noble birth
eminently good but not perfect
has the capacity to suffer grandly
original stars of the early presentations
emmelia (Tragedy) 50, then 12, then made 15 by Sophocles
codrax (Comedy) 24
sing in accompaniment of flute, drums, or kithara
usually represented city elders
illustrate the beauty of poetry and dancing
establish mood and theme of the drama
relieve the tension or intensify
converse and advise characters
give background of preceding events
only three in number and acted all the parts
only men were allowed to act
they wore elaborate costumes, masks, wigs and special high clogs or boots called kothornoi
if playing female role, they wore prosternida before the chest and progastrida before the belly
body movements and gestures were controlled and stately and at times exaggerated
since it is of religious significance the audience is restrained and orderly
the dialogue on stage was chaste and polished
no act of rowdiness or violence could be performed before the eyes of the audience
Deus ex Machina