Elements of Greek Tragedy and the Tragic Hero “All men by nature desire knowledge.”- Aristotle
Comedy - The first comedies were mainly satirical and mocked men in power for their vanity and foolishness. The first master of comedy was the playwright Aristophanes. Much later Menander wrote comedies about ordinary people and made his plays more like sit-coms. The Three Types of Greek Drama
Tragedy - Tragedy dealt with the big themes of love, loss, pride, the abuse of power and the fraught relationships between men and gods. Typically the main protagonist of a tragedy commits some terrible crime without realizing how foolish and arrogant he has been. Then, as he slowly realizes his error, the world crumbles around him. The three great playwrights of tragedy were Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. The Three Types of Greek Drama
Satyr Plays - These short plays were performed between the acts of tragedies and made fun of the plight of the tragedy's characters. The satyrs were mythical half human, half-goat figures and actors in these plays wore large phalluses for comic effect. Few examples of these plays survive. They are classified by some authors as tragicomic, or comedy dramas. The Three Types of Greek Drama A Satyr and Dionysus A Satyr and a Nymph
Hubris or hybris (Greek ὕβρις), according to its modern usage, is exaggerated self pride or self-confidence (overbearing pride), often resulting in fatal retribution. In Ancient Greece, "hubris" referred to actions taken in order to shame the victim, thereby making oneself seem superior. Hubris was a crime in classical Athens. The category of acts constituting hubris for the ancient Greeks apparently broadened from the original specific reference to molestation of a corpse, or a humiliation of a defeated foe, to molestation, or "outrageous treatment", in general. The meaning was further generalized in its modern English usage to apply to any outrageous act or exhibition of pride or disregard for basic moral law. Such an act may be referred to as an "act of hubris", or the person committing the act may be said to be hubristic. Hubris
FATE: the will or principle or determining cause by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are or events to happen as they do : destiny The Greeks believed that everything happened for a reason and that the path they led in life, was prescribed for them by the Gods and that there was no escaping their fate or destiny. Fate
Derived from the words Tragos, meaning goat, and oide, meaning song. Related to Dionysos sacrifice rituals. Choruses were dressed in loin-skins of goats. Prize for best song was a goat. Requirements for Tragedian competition: Must submit three tragedies and a satyr play The Tragedy
Tragedy depicts the downfall of a basically good person through some fatal error or misjudgment, producing suffering and insight on the part of the protagonist and arousing pity and fear on the part of the audience. Aristotle’s Definition of Tragedy
A true tragedy should evoke pity and fear on the part of the audience. Pity and fear are the natural human responses to spectacles of pain and suffering – especially to the sort of pain and suffering that can strike anyone at any time. The effect is that we feel relief in the end through catharsis, and are purged of these feelings. Aristotle’s Definition of Tragedy
Tragedy must have 6 parts: Plot – The MOST important Characters- Good, but not too good! Diction- “But the greatest thing by far is to have a command of metaphor; . . . it is the mark of genius, for to make good metaphors implies an eye for resemblances” Thought- Theme Melody- The chorus should contribute to the unity of the play Spectacle- the least important and the least connected to the literature Aristotle’s Poetics
Aristotle defines plot as “the arrangement of the incidents”: i.e., not the story itself but the way the incidents are presented to the audience, the structure of the play. According to Aristotle, tragedies where the outcome depends on a tightly constructed cause-and-effect chain of actions are superior to those that depend primarily on the character and personality of the protagonist. Plot
The tragic hero must be essentially admirable and good. The fall of a scoundrel or villain evokes applause rather than pity. Audiences cheer when the bad guy goes down. We feel compassion for someone we admire when that character is in a difficult situation. The nobler and more admirable the person is, the greater our anxiety or grief at his or her downfall. The Tragic Hero
In a true tragedy, the hero’s demise must come as a result of some personal error or decision. There is no such thing as an innocent victim in tragedy, nor can a genuinely tragic downfall ever be purely a matter of blind accident or bad luck. The tragic hero must always bear at least some responsibility for his own doom.
ANAGORISIS Tragic recognition or insight. A moment of clairvoyant insight or understanding in the mind of the tragic hero as he suddenly comprehends the web of fate in which he is entangled.
HAMARTIA Tragic error. A fatal error or simple mistake on the part of the protagonist that eventually leads to the final catastrophe. A metaphor from archery, hamartia literally refers to a shot that misses the bullseye.
NEMESIS Retribution. The inevitable payback or cosmic punishment for acts of hubris.
PERIPATEIA Plot reversal. A pivotal or crucial action on the part of the protagonist that changes the situation from seemingly secure to vulnerable.
CATHARSIS Transformation through transaction. A feeling of emotional purging on the part of the audience during a tragedy. The audience feels pity and fear at first, only to feel relief and exhilaration at the end through catharsis.