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Introduction to Greek Theatre and Tradegy

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Richard Ngo

on 16 February 2011

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Transcript of Introduction to Greek Theatre and Tradegy

Introduction to Greek
Theatre and Tragedy Greek Life
Social Structure Social Structure divided into:
free people or slaves
- “Free people” further divided into two groups
- citizens
- metics Government:
800 BC – oligarchy (aristocrats)
750 BC – Aeropagus (council) and 3 magistrates (Archons)
500 BC – democracy - Democracy
citizens divided into demes, and grouped into 10 tribes
- Every 10 days, Ecclesia would meet
made up of 50 representatives from the 10 tribes Greek Theatre The Greek Chorus Non-individualized group of preformers in the plays, who comment together on ths plays preformed. Origionally, the group consisted of fifty members, but was reduced to twelve members by Sophocles, and then later increased to fifteen by Euripides.

In Aeschylus' Agamemnon, the chorus comprises the elderly men of Argos, whereas in Euripides' The Bacchae, they are a group of eastern bacchants, and in Sophocles' Electra, the chorus is made up of the women of Argos.

The role of the greek chorus was to:
observe and comment on the action of two or three of the actors
forward the action of the plays
garner sympathy for the heroes in the plays
draw the audience in, even if the audience is already aware of the outcomes of the stories. Ode Ode is a type of lyrical verse used in the greek theatre.
A classical version of the Ode is structured in three major parts:

- the strophe
- the antistrophe
- the epode.

As time passed on, they gradually became known as simple poems whether sung or recited; with or without music.

Most likely the primary instrument of choice was eventually narrowed down to the aulos or the lyre. The written ode, as it was practiced by the Romans, returned to the lyrical form of the Lesbian lyricists.

This was exemplified, exquisitely, by Horace and Catullus; the odes of Horace deliberately imitated the Greek lyricists such as Alcaeus and Anacreon, and the poetry of Catullus was particularly inspired by Sappho. Structure and Layout The earliest Greeks who attended performances probably sat on the grass or stood on the hillside to watch the goings-on.

Later, the audience sat on benches cut from the rock of the hillside or made of stone.

Some prestigious benches towards the bottom might be covered with marble or otherwise enhanced for priests and officials.

Seats were arranged in curving tiers, so that the people in the rows above could see the action in the orchestra and on stage without their vision being obscured by the people beneath them.

This isn't too different from the seating in a modern auditorium. Greek Tradegy Role of Women:

Meant to marry. Marriage is often arranged with a man the girl has
never meant when she is too young to have much opinion for herself
on the subject.

Role of Men:

The men often have arranged marriages. Sometimes he will never have seen the woman he is to marry. He can only marry those equal in fortune.

Role of the Children:

Children are desired. Childless households are seen as a sign of old age or a dying family. At least one son is greatly welcome. Are seen as expensive luxuries. Boys must be properly educated, and girls must have good dowries.

  Daily Life:
The clothes they wear are worn wrapped around them. These are a large cloth or two wrapped around the body held in place by pins.

The people usually wear nothing on their feet. Sandals are worn when he walks abroad.

Most people have thick hair, and do not need hats.

Slaves can be found in every wealthy household and working everywhere else.

There is much manufacturing. People make goods and sell them. Most Greek manufactures were never exported.

Part of the wealth comes from the busy factories.
There is no fixed standard of coinage.

Old age is not seen as a happy thing.
Only the young can be happy.

Common sports and competitions: Pancration,
Leaping, Quoit Hurling, Javelin Hurling, Wrestling,
and Racing. Popular use of "tragedy" as "disaster": this is very different from the technical sense of tragedy, which specifies a particular literary genre of drama in which people suffer

Fundamental to the view of tragedy in Plato and Aristotle is the human need for pathos ("suffering")

Pathos ("Passion"):
pity = compassion for the one undergoing the pathos

terror/fear = identification with the one undergoing the pathos A mysteriously agreeable sadness

But also a vital moment in religion in art, cherished by many and feared by some as enticement to the irrationality of deep emotion Tragedy Characteristics "Tragedy, then, is an imitation of a noble and
complete action, having the proper magnitude;
it employs language that has been artistically
enhanced . . . ; it is presented in dramatic, not
narrative form, and achieves, through the
representationof pitiable and fearful incidents,
the catharsis of such incidents"

– Aristotle Usually we think of tragedy resulting in the death of the protagonist along with several others. While this is true of most tragedies (especially Shakespeare),  Aristotle acknowledges that several Greek tragedies end happily Tragedy Human nature may cause us to hope that things work out

Downfall of a noble hero or heroine

Hero's powerful wish to achieve some goal inevitably encounters limits

The tragic hero should have a flaw and/or make some mistake

Hero need not die at the end, but he / she must undergo a change in fortune

Hero may achieve some revelation or recognition about human fate, destiny, and the will of the gods

Time - the entire play should take place within one day.

Place - The entire play should be set in a single place.

Action - The play should have only a single plot-no sub-plots Usually through some combination of fate and the will of the gods Human frailty (flaws in reason, society), the gods (through oracles, prophets, fate), or nature Tradegy Hero Characteristics Position
Tragic Flaw
Recognition Sophocles
(496 B.C. – 405 B.C.) Timeline
496 Sophocles born
468 Aeschylus defeated by Sophocles in dramatic competition
445 Sophocles' Ajax
441 Sophocles' Antigone
429 Sophocles' Oedipus the King
406 Sophocles dies while in writing of Oedipus at Colonus As a playwright:

Tradegian playwright who wrote over 120 plays including Odepius the King, Antigone, Electra and The Women of Trachis.

Innovator of the theatre, added
third actor and abolished
trilogic form. As an actor:

Acted in his own plays when he was young

Eventually would give it up due to his weak voice
Other occupations:

Ordained priest in the service of two local heroes--Alcon and Asclepius

Board of Generals, a committee that administered civil and military affairs in Athens

Director of the Treasury, controlling the funds of the association of states known as the Delian Confederacy. "There is some pleasure even in words, when they bring forgetfulness of present miseries. "

- Sophocles
"A change from ignorance to awareness of a bond of love or hate." – Aristotle
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