Greek Tragedy

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  • 1. Greek Tragedy The father of Modern Western Drama
  • 2. What is Drama?
    • Drama comes from a Greek word meaning “action”
      • In Greek Theater, there are plays about two kinds of action:
          • 1. Tragedy : where violent action leads to misfortune for the main characters.
          • 2. Comedy : Where the main characters usually “Get Action”
  • 3. Aristotle
    • Aristotle found something gracefully greek in Drama
    • He defined it as “ Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its katharsis of such emotions. . . . Every Tragedy, therefore, must have six parts, which parts determine its quality, n a mely, Plot, Characters, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, Melody
  • 4. Sophocles
    • The playwright preceded Aristotle and inspired his defintion of drama
    • Sophocles, like most greeks liked order
    • As a result, his plays are organized into a definite structure.
  • 5. Sophoclean Structure
    • Prologue and prosis- introduced by main character
    • Four episodes followed by four staisimon or Choral Odes
    • Concludes with Exodus
    • They follow the arc of the traditional story triangle
  • 6. How did drama get Started?
    • They started as a religious Ceremony to honor the God Dionysis.
    • Why dionysis?
      • Because as the god of wine and feast, the drunken revelries that ensued in his worship allowed people to act as people other than themselves: hence, he became the god of acting as well.
  • 7. The Chorus
    • Musical theater owes much to sophocles who incorporated a chorus into his shows.
      • After the major action, the chorus would perform a song or chant
      • They served as the voice of reason, always providing good advice that the main tragic heroes mostly never took.
      • While actors would travel from city to city, the chorus was usually always made up of citizens of the town where they play was performed.
  • 8. Religious climate during Sophocles time
    • Most know that the greeks revered the gods, but during sophocles’s time, a group called the sophists insisted that gods were not real and that fate didn’t drive human affairs and suffering; people did.
  • 9. Tragedy and Free will
    • As a result, tragedy, they insisted was resultant of people making choices; therefore there was no tragedy without free will.
    • Thus the idea of a tragic hero was born- a hero who makes a mistake unknowingly and brings about his own downfall due to a tragic flaw or hamartia.
  • 10. Reversal in Greek Lit
    • Greeks loved the wheel of fortune and how one could be on top of the world one moment and on the bottom at another.
    • Thus, they loved to employ ideas of parepetia- or reversal of intention
    • And catastrophe-or reversal of fortune.
  • 11. Perepetia
    • Oedipus the king demonstrates a number of instances of role reversal:
      • For one, he runs away from his adoptive parents to avoide a certain fate; yet that decision only allows him to fulfill it. It wasn’t his intention.
  • 12.