Greek tragedy

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Greek tragedy

  1. 1. Medea<br />Greek Tragedy<br />
  2. 2. Dramatic performances were frequent in Ancient Greece as they formed part of the festival which honoured Dionysus, the god of wine and winemaking.<br />Dionysus was like the ‘party’ god – he was the god of excess and riot<br />Each year from about 508 BC, a theatrical contest would be held in his honour. Playwrights from across Greece would enter into the competition.<br />Many of these plays were only performed once and so have been lost over time.<br />Theatre in Ancient Greece<br />
  3. 3. The architecture of Greek theatre<br />Theatron: space where the audience sat to watch<br />Orchestra: held the chorus.<br />They would sing and dance in this space<br />Parodos: a passage that the actors used to enter and exit the stage.<br />Skene: a tent or raised stage, where the key characters performed.<br />http://academic.reed.edu/humanities/110tech/theater.html<br />
  4. 4. The Classical period occurred during the 5th Century, between the attempted Persian invasion (as discussed in the film ‘the 300) and the Peloponnesian war.<br />Three playwrights would each submit three tragedies and one comedic satyr play (about the gods). Only one playwright would be the winner.<br />Plays were performed at the Theatre of Dionysus at Athens<br />Euripides, Sophocles and Aeschylus are the three great tragedians of Ancient Greece.<br />The Classical period of Greek Theatre<br />
  5. 5. Theatre of Dionysus, Athens<br />Theatres in Ancient Greece were designed to amplify sound so that everyone could hear what was going on.<br />The chorus were located in the ‘orchestra’ pit.<br />The actors inhabited the stage behind it.<br />http://www.bestourism.com/items/di/898?title=Dionysos-Theatre&b=148<br />
  6. 6. Athenian tragedy aimed to explore the nature of humanity and human suffering.<br />It aims to illustrate life itself – in all its misery and glory<br />Aristotle suggested that tragedy was:<br />Tragedy is, then, an enactment of a deed that is important and complete, and of magnitude, by means of language enriched, each used separately in the different parts [of the play]: it is enacted, not [merely] recited, and through pity and fear it effects relief (catharsis) to such [and similar] emotions. Poetics, VI 1449b 2-3<br />The purpose of tragedy<br />
  7. 7. There are common features in all of the surviving tragedies:<br />They use stories from Greek mythology<br />They deal with the ‘fall’ of a hero – their demise<br />The tragic actions have a significance to the society – the community will be greatly affected<br />The tragic actions are of significance to family<br />There is religious involvement – the gods play a part.<br />Features of Greek Tragedy<br />
  8. 8. In each play, you would have a cast of characters and the ‘chorus’, made up of about 12-15 people.<br />The cast move the story along – their actions tell the story, things don’t just happen to them.<br />The chorus acts as one character. They explain what is happening and also provide moral judgements.<br />All parts are played by men, however, many characters are women. Men would wear a fake bosom and stomach to simulate the female body.<br />Actors could play more than one role.<br />The players<br />
  9. 9. Each actor wore a mask.<br />Masks could be changed around many times during a play.<br />Each mask would have an exaggerated facial expression to illustrate the thoughts and feelings of the character. They were elaborate so as to be seen easily from a distance<br />All members of the chorus wore the same mask. This helped to emphasise their unity – they should be seen as one character.<br />The Use of Masks<br />
  10. 10. Euripides was one of the least successful of the playwrights during the festival; he only won five times, and one of these wins was posthumously.<br />His work is unique for many reasons:<br />Gods are minor characters, they don’t drive the story<br />He focuses on people at their most erratic and intense<br />He used a variety of machinery to support the story<br />He uses long debates between the key characters, called ‘agons’.<br />He twists the understanding of the stories he retells.<br />Euripides<br />
  11. 11. ‘Medea’ is also notable as a play.<br />It uses a mechane – which is a crane – to complete the play.<br />Mechane (deus ex machina) were used primarily for gods. The fact that Medea is able to escape via this contraption is unique to this play.<br />This is the first time that the myth of Medeainvolves her deliberately choosing to kill her children.<br />Other, alternative endings are that the children were killed by accident or that they were killed by the revenge-driven citizens of Corinth.<br />The Medea<br />

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