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Greek Tragedy Project: Catharsis

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Daniel Hartman-Strawn

on 28 September 2012

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Transcript of Greek Tragedy Project: Catharsis

The Psychological Effect of Greek Tragedies Catharsis The word "catharsis" is related to the Greek word for "clean." It was used by Aristotle to describe the effect that tragedies had on the viewer.

"It is the human soul that is purged of its excessive passions."
- F. L. Lucas, Cambridge Professor of Classical English Meaning: Tragedies generally evoked negative emotions: fear, pity, anger, etc. The audience would view these plays and travel through a wide range of emotions, using the play as a catalyst for recognizing and releasing them. Connection to Audience: It was a detrimental to political stability to have the general public emotionally unstable. It was important that entertainment existed that would allow them to experience the full spectrum emotion. When they left the performance, they would be far more likely to be docile. Political Gains through Theater Because political gains could be had from the public viewing theater, the Greek government would subsidize theater festivals and support playwrights during their careers. This is partly what allowed for the conditions that made the explosion of creativity in this society possible. The Effect of Theater as
a Government Tool Modern Catharsis: The modern world is very stressful, and we have developed many ways of achieving catharsis. Video games, movies, yoga, sports, etc. are all forms of catharsis for the modern American.
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