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Ancient Greek Theater


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  • 1. Ancient Greek Theater
    Ms. Aixa B. Rodriguez
    World Cultures Theme
    Mythology Unit
    ESL L5 and Art in Literature Class
    High School for World Cultures Bronx, NY
  • 2. What are the main parts of a Greek Theatre?
  • 3. What parts can you identify?
  • 4. What have they done to make this ancient theatre work now?
  • 5. What do you notice in this picture?
  • 6. Greek Theatre: Main components
    Theatron: literally, the “watching place”
    Orchestra: literally, the “dancing place”
    Skene: “scene,” or backdrop
  • 7. If you were sitting this high, you could still hear the actors’ voices.
  • 8. What were some of the issues in the Theatron?
    Class issues
    Sound effects
  • 9. Can you identify the parts of the stage?
  • 10. Did you know?
    • The modern word “theater” comes from the Greek word theatron meaning "seeing place"
  • What were some of the challenges with the Orchestra?
    Distance from audience
    Holding interest
  • 11. Do you see the mountains?
  • 12. What was the Skene?
    • Behind orchestra
    • 13. Served as backdrop, house
    • 14. Decorative in later years
    • 15. Holds mechane
  • What were some other theatre components?
    • Parodos: passageways (pl.paradoi)
    • 16. Ekkykleme: “the thing that rolls”
    • 17. the small wagon platform, was wheeled in to show a corpse to the audience.
  • What were some other theatre components?
    • All killing had to occur off stage and be reported to the audience by the chorus or a messenger.
    • 18. Mechane: crane used for special effect
  • What was the mechane?
  • 19. How were plays staged?
    • Staging was accomplished simply with the use of pinakes, or scenery painted on boards and placed against the skene.
  • How were plays staged?
    • Alsoperiaktois, triangular prisms, that could be revolved for scenery changes.
    • 20. Properties were also used.
    • 21. Drums were sounded for thunder.
  • Where and how were the plays performed?
    …In an amphitheatre
    …With a chorus who described most of the action.
    …With masks
  • 22. What part did drama play in everyday culture in Ancient Greece?
    • The theater of ancient Greece, flourished between c. 550 and c. 220 BCE.
    • 23. The city-state of Athens, was it’s centre.
    • 24. It was part of a festival called the Dionysia, which honored the god Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and revelry with altars generally on stage.
  • What part did drama play in everyday culture in Ancient Greece?
    • Banks would shut down for days, people would travel from all around to see the drama competitions—even prisoners were temporarily released to see the plays
    • 25. Tragedy means “goat song” (relates to Dionysian sacrificial rituals)
  • The Stage
  • 26.
  • 27. How did the community Support drama?
    • The chorus was trained and costumed at state expense through a choregos(a wealthy citizen) who chose this job as his way of paying taxes and raising his standing in the community.
  • How were chorus members chosen?
    Members of the chorus were chosen from the general population.
    Chorus members were unpaid volunteers doing their civic duty.
    The rehearsal period for a chorus was likely four months or more.
  • 28. What is Drama?
    • DRAMA: a literary composition written to be performed by actors
    • 29. central character called a tragic protagonist or hero suffers some serious misfortune
    • 30. the misfortune is logically connected with the hero's actions.
  • Did you know?
    • The modern word “drama” comes from the Greek word dranmeaning "to do”
    • 31. The Greeks understood the role of action in plays.
  • What are the Types of Greek Drama?
    • Comedy
    • 32. Tragedy
    • 33. Satyr
    • 34. Comedy and tragedy were the most popular types of plays in ancient Greece. Hence, the modern popularity of the comedy and tragedy masks to symbolize theatre.
  • Did you know?
    • The word “comedy” comes from the Greek word “komos” which means “band of revelers.”
  • What are Satyr Plays?
    • These were short plays performed between the acts of tragedies. They made fun of the plight of the tragedy's characters.
    • 35. The satyrs were mythical half-human, half-goat servants of Dionysus.
    • 36. They served the function of comic relief.
  • Did you know?
    • The Satyr and the Satyr plays spawned the modern word “satire”.
  • Greek Theatre and the Chorus
  • 37. What made GREEK THEATER unique?
    used a chorus
    The choric dithyrambs (choral songs) were originally about the death and resurrection of Dionysus (the god of wine and revelry).
    Chorus reflects what the audience is thinking
    “color commentary”
    Provides background and spectacle
  • 38. What is the function of a chorus?
    The first function of the chorus was
    as narrator (telling stories, providing information).
    to bridge the gap between the audience and the players by making responses and asking questions   
  • 39. What is the function of a chorus?
    to intensify the emotion and establish a lyric mood through rhythmic chanting and dance
    to maintain a sense of ceremony and ritual   
  • 40. How was Music and Song used in greek theatre?
    The chorus could punctuate the action of a play with bursts of song and dance, which enlarged the dramatic action and relieved tension.
    Instruments used to accompany choric songs and dances included flutes, lyres, horns, drums, and bells.
  • 41. How was Music and Song used in greek theatre?
    The ‘Parados’ (chorus entrance) marks the beginning of the play, and the exodus(its exit) the ending.
    Strophe (1 section of a lyric poem in a Greek drama)
    Antistrophe (answer)
  • 42. What was the size of the Chorus?
    As the number of actors increased from one to three, the size of the chorus, which originally numbered 50, was reduced.
    12-15 men
  • 43. Did the chorus ever act?
    The Chorus could play the worshipers of a God, or as in Oedipus, the villagers and Theban elders (town leaders).
  • 44. Did you know?
    • The modern word “thespian” (actor) comes from the name Thespis, the first actor credited with separating from the chorus to hold a call and response with them.
  • How did the Chorus rehearse?
    Choruses did not rehearse in the theatres, they probably rehearsed in a closed room so that the spectators would not see the drama before the performance.
    Early dramatists (Aeschylus and probably Sophocles and Euripides) taught their own choruses.
  • 45. What Costumes were worn in Greek theatre?
    Consisted of standard Greek attire
    • Chiton: a sleeveless tunic belted below the breast
    • 46. the himation: draped around the right shoulder
    • 47. the chlamys, or short cloak, worn over the left shoulder
  • What Costumes were worn in Greek theatre?
    • elaborately embroidered patterns
    • 48. Masks were used.
    • 49. If playing a female role, the male actor in want of a female appearance woretheprosternidabefore the chest and the progastridabefore the belly
  • Who were the actors in Greek Theatre?
    3 Actors, all men
    Elaborate gestures, “over-acting”
    Women were not allowed to participate.
  • 50. What did Greek Masks look like?
  • 51. What were the functions of the masks?
    to masks bring the characters' face closer to the audience.
    to enable an actor to play in several different roles.
  • 52. What were the functions of the masks?
    to help the audience to distinguish sex, age, and social status, in addition to revealing a change in a particular character’s emotions and appearance.
    a mask—called a “persona”
    Masks contained “megaphone” to amplify their voices
  • 53. Sound Assistance
    Another adaptation that the Greeks' developed for their theatre masks were special mouths that acted like megaphones to amplify their voice for everyone in the huge theatre to hear.
  • 54. How did masks help visibility and characterization?
    Actors wore masks with exaggerated facial features
    and expressions to make it easy for all viewers to identify a particular character because theatres were very large.
  • 55. What is the history of Greek Masks?
    Greek actors originally started wearing masks that were very human like that just covered part of the face
    Eventually with the increase in theatre size the mask changed as well
    The mask then began to cover the whole head and resembled legends from Greek mythology not humans
  • 56. How were masks made?
    usually made by the people that who wore them in the play
    from consisted of cloth, leather, and wood with animal hair and painted or died different colors with flowers and other plants attached to them.
    Famous actors in bigger plays may have had jewels and other ornate items placed on their masks
  • 57. Who were some important Playwrights of the age?
  • Euripides’ Medea/Aftermath of the myth of Jason and the Argonauts.
    Medea is a princess from Colchis. She marries Jason, who is on a quest for the Golden Fleece. Medea betrays her father and murders her brother for her love of Jason. Medea has magical powers. Jason takes Medea back to his homeland Iolcus. They are rejected for fear of Medea’s power and move to Corinth, where they have children.
    Jason takes another wife, the king of Corinth’s daughter Glauce. Medea, betrayed, sends a bewitched gown to Princess Glauce, Jason’s new bride, it kills her and her father. Jason returns to find Medea has killed their sons. Medea leaves with the bodies of her children in a dragon led chariot. Jason, a shadow of a man, no longer protected by Hera, dies when a timber from the Argo crushes him in his sleep.
  • 62. SOPHOCLES496 BC to 406 BC
    Son of wealthy Athenian merchant
    Lived during golden age of Athens
    Center of democracy
    Important figure in society
    Becomes cultural spokesperson
    Noted playwright
    Wrote primarily tragedies
    Witnessed decline of Athens
    495 B.C.E. :Born in Colonus, in Attica
    441: Writes Antigone
    431-404: Peloponnesian War (Athens v. Sparta)
    429: Writes Oedipus Rex
    406: Sophocles dies
  • 63. What were the prophecies in Oedipus the King?
    “Aye, 'tis no secret. Apollo once foretold That I should mate with mine own mother, and shed With my own hands the blood of my own sire. Hence Corinth was for many a year to me. A home distant; and I trove abroad, But missed the sweetest sight, my parents' face. ”
    “An oracle Once came to Laius, I will not say 'Twasfrom the Delphic god himself, but from His ministers, declaring he was doomed to perish by the hand of his own son, A child that should be born to him by me.
  • 64. Oedipus Rex
    Delphic Oracle, prophecy
    Corinth and Thebes
    Sphinx riddle
    Children: Eteocles, Polyneices, Ismene, Antigone
  • 65. What was the Sphynx’s riddle?
    • Sphinx's riddle: "What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?"
    • 66. To this Oedipus answered "Man”.
    • 67. Oedipus's name means "swollen foot”. His ankles were pinned as a baby. Here is the baby of which the Sphinx speaks, crawling on four feet.
    • 68. Oedipus the adult man, standing on his own two feet.
    • 69. Oedipus will leave Thebes an old blind man, using a cane.
    • 70. Oedipus himself proves to be that same man, an embodiment of the Sphinx's riddle.
    • 71. Oedipus is solver of the Sphinx's riddle, and the answer.
  • Oedipus the King
  • 72. Oedipus Plot
    A messenger from Corinth also arrives to inform Oedipus of the death of Polybus, whom Oedipus still believes is his real father.
    The messenger informs him that he was in fact adopted and his real parentage is unknown.
    In the subsequent discussions Jocasta guesses the truth and runs away.
    Oedipus is stubborn
    A 2nd messenger arrives and reveals that Jocasta has hanged herself
    Oedipus, upon discovering her body, blinds himself with the golden brooches on her dress.
    The play ends with Oedipus entrusting his children to Creon and leaving in exile, as he promised would be the fate of Laius' murderer.
    The play begins years after Oedipus is given the throne of Thebes.
    The chorus of Thebans cries out to Oedipus for salvation from the plague sent by the gods in response to Laius' murder.
    The blind prophet, Teiresias, is called to aid Oedipus in his search; He warns Oedipus not to follow through with the investigation.
    Oedipus accuses him of being the murderer, even though Teiresias is blind and aged.
    Oedipus promises to exile the man responsible for it.
    Oedipus accuses Teiresias of conspiring with Creon, Jocasta's brother, to overthrow him.
    Oedipus calls for one of Laius' former servants, the only surviving witness of the murder, who fled the city when Oedipus became king to avoid being the one to reveal the truth.
  • 73.
  • 74. Dramatic Irony in Oedipus
    Story revolves around two different unsuccessful attempts to change the course of fate:
    Jocasta and Laius's killing of Oedipus at birth and
    Oedipus's flight from Corinth later on.
    Jocasta kills her son only to find him married to her.
    Oedipus leaves Corinth only to find that he has carried out the oracle's words.
  • 75. Dramatic Irony … cont.
    Oedipus counts on his own ability not the gods.
    The irony is, of course, that the oracles and Oedipus's reasoning lead to the same outcome.
    Oedipus is a thinker. His intelligence is what makes him great, yet it is also what makes him tragic.
    Marriage to Jocasta and ruling Thebes was the prize for ridding Thebes of the Sphinx. Oedipus's intelligence, a trait that brings him closer to the gods, is what causes him to commit the most terrible of all sins.
    In killing the Sphinx, Oedipus is the city's savior, but in killing Laius (and marrying Jocasta), he is cause of the plague that has struck the city at the play's opening.
    Sight here means two different things. Oedipus is blessed with perception. But he is blind to the truth, for all he seeks it.
    Oedipus is human and we recognize this in his agonizing reaction to his sin.
    Watching this, the audience is moved to both pity and fear: pity for this broken man, and fear that his tragedy could be our own. Watching this tragedy gives us the audience a sense of purging. This is the catharsis which Aristotle spoke of.
  • 76. From Aristotle’s Poetics
  • 77. From Aristotle’s PoeticsThe Six Aspects of Tragedy: Plot
    PLOT: Plot is the way the incidents are presented to the audience
    • Must be “whole” –beginning/ middle and end
    • 78. Incentive moment- begins cause and effect
    • 79. Climax
    • 80. resolution
    • 81. Must be complete and have “unity of action”
    • 82. No “deus ex machina”
    • 83. No “episodic plots”
    • 84. Plot can be simple or complex
    • 85. Catastrophe (cata/strophe): change in fortune
    • 86. Perepetia: a reversal
    • 87. Anagnorisis: recognition
  • Plot Diagram/
    Freytag’s Pyramid
  • 88. From Aristotle’s PoeticsThe Six Aspects of Tragedy: Character
    • Personal motivations connected to cause/ effect aspect of plot
    • 89. Protagonist should be renowned and prosperous change from good to bad
    • 90. Hubris – arrogance, overconfidence
    • 91. Hamartia: a tragic flaw
    • 92. Characters should have the following qualities:
    • 93. Good or fine
    • 94. Fitness of character
    • 95. True to life
    • 96. Consistency
    • 97. Necessary or probable
    • 98. Idealized/ ennobled
  • Characteristics of a Tragic Hero
    He must be a man who is superior to the average man in some way.
    Oedipus is smart he is the only person who could solve the Sphinx's riddle.
    Must evoke both pity and fear, must be a character with a mixture of good and evil. Oedipus is a hero with a violent streak, clever man, but is blind to the truth.
    Hamartia, often translated as "tragic flaw" but really means "error in judgement.”
    Dramatic irony The audience knows the outcome of the story already, but the hero does not, making his actions seem ignorant or inappropriate in the face of what is to come.
  • 99. From Aristotle’s PoeticsThe Six Aspects of Tragedy
    3. THOUGHT
    • Reference to theme
    4. DICTION
    • Word choice is proper and appropriate
    • 100. Emphasis on style and use of literary devices (metaphor)
    5. SONG
    • Musical element of the play
    • 101. Use of the chorus
    * Production for effect
  • 102. Antigone: in context
    Oedipus Rex
    Cast of characters
  • 103. Sophocles’ Antigone
    Set in Thebes (a city in ancient Greece)
    Antigone is the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta
    Antigone’s brothers, Eteokles and Polyneces, took opposite sides in a war
    Eteokles and Polyneces killed each other in battle
    Antigone’s uncle, Kreon, became king of Thebes
  • 104. Two Daughters
    • Antigone, had the better judgment, and Ismene with all the good intentions.
    • 105. They were both two extraordinary women that went through a lot together despite their differences.
  • Two Sons
    • Eteocles and Polyneices
    The princes who had refused to share their inheritance shared death instead