Greek Drama


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Characteristics of Greek Drama; Role of Greek Women

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Greek Drama

  1. 1. Greek Drama An Introduction English 2
  2. 2. Origins <ul><li>Where? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Eastern Mediterranean </li></ul></ul><ul><li>When? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The 6 th and 5 th centuries, B.C. </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. The Dionysus Cult <ul><li>Greek drama originates from the Greek god Dionysus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the god of the vine (and of wine, theater, and dance) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Every fall, with the coming of the cold, Dionysus died… </li></ul><ul><li>But he was resurrected again each spring! </li></ul><ul><li>This cycle assured the Greeks that death does not end it all: his death and rebirth showed them that the soul lives on forever </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Festival of Dionysia <ul><li>The most famous and popular public festival of the time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>4-5 days long </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>business was suspended </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>prisoners were let out of jail on bail </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>foreign heads of state were honored </li></ul></ul><ul><li>When: End of March/early April </li></ul>
  5. 5. Drama <ul><li>Began as choral songs about the death and resurrection of Dionysus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Evolved into a theatrical contest </li></ul></ul><ul><li>3 dramatists competed over a 3-day duration </li></ul><ul><li>Judged by a panel of 10 elected judges </li></ul><ul><li>Subject of plays: ancient myth and heroes, stories the audience knew </li></ul>
  6. 6. Thespis <ul><li>His Chorus of fifty told the entire story </li></ul><ul><li>Credited with “inventing” the art of acting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Someone from the Chorus would step out and become a mythical character or messenger. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Introduced dialogue and the dramatic narrative. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fused dancing with dialogue </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The inventor of tragedy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>plays concentrated on the mythical grandeur of the stories </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Aeschylus <ul><li>The first great dramatist </li></ul><ul><li>Introduced the second actor, thus allowing for dramatic conflict , several points of view, and dialogue. </li></ul><ul><li>Wrote trilogies on unified themes. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Sophocles <ul><li>His plays concentrated on characters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focused on heroes on the grand scale with grand possessions or deeds – BIG! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Added a third actor and reduced the chorus to fifteen </li></ul><ul><li>Master of tragic irony </li></ul><ul><li>His trilogies were separated plays </li></ul><ul><li>Won the contest 18-24 times. Died at age 90; seven of his 123 plays survived </li></ul>
  9. 9. Euripides <ul><li>The first “modern” dramatist </li></ul><ul><li>His characters tended to speak and act like his contemporaries and seemed more modern </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Known for his portrayal of women </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Role of Women: Marriage <ul><li>Women were controlled by the men in their lives. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Father controlled them before they were married; husband controlled them once they were married. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Married in their teens, often to a man in his thirties. </li></ul><ul><li>Father chose her husband. </li></ul><ul><li>The young bride only became a full member of the new household when she produced her first child. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Women had very little influence, or power in Greek society and were not highly regarded until they could produce a child. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Once a woman was married, her husband controlled all property. She had no rights to wander about the town without a just cause; any respectable woman would not be seen in public. </li></ul><ul><li>Greek women had virtually no political rights of any kind, and custom dictated that women should limit her time outside the home. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Role of Women: The Home <ul><li>As girls, spent most of time in the household with other women </li></ul><ul><li>Learned important household skills: spinning, weaving, sewing, cooking, and other household joys. </li></ul><ul><li>… as well as reading; women were well-versed in simple mythology, religion, and occasionally, music. </li></ul><ul><li>Because men spent most of their time away from their houses, women dominated Greek home life. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The wife was in charge of raising the children and making clothing for the family. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In the Greeks’ slave-based economy, numerous female slaves were available to cook, clean, and carry water; only in the poorest homes was the wife expected to do these duties herself. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Role of Women: Public Life <ul><li>Left the house only to perform religious duties. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As part of a woman’s public duties, she would be expected to play an important role at funerals. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Athenian women were neither allowed to cry (crying was too weak and “womanly”), nor to bury more than three garments with the body, which they prepared for burial. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In a funeral procession, the females carried the libations at the front of the group followed by the male relatives. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This was probably the only time a woman was allowed to be ahead of the males! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In addition, on the third and ninth days of the funeral, women were expected to deliver food and libations to the gravesite. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Conventions of the Greek Theater <ul><li>Plays were performed only during the daytime. </li></ul><ul><li>Props and verbal references became a very large part of “setting the scene” for performances </li></ul><ul><li>The large outdoor theaters could seat 14,000 to 15,000 spectators! </li></ul>
  14. 14. Conventions of Greek Theater <ul><li>Most of the play’s action was set outdoors </li></ul><ul><li>There were NO: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Curtains </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lights </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intermissions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Chorus was always on stage with the actors </li></ul>
  15. 15. The Chorus <ul><li>Originally, told the entire story </li></ul><ul><li>Made up the story’s background characters (e.g., town elders, maidens, war captives) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sophocles reduced from 50 to 15 members in Antigone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Despite reduced numbers, was still an important part of the play </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Functions of the Chorus <ul><li>Comment on the action/offer approval or criticism </li></ul><ul><li>Ask questions </li></ul><ul><li>Give advice or warnings </li></ul><ul><li>Supply background information </li></ul><ul><li>Provide lyrical relief (perhaps relieve the tension of a highly emotional scene) </li></ul><ul><li>Guide the audience’s emotions (like a movie soundtrack) </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain a sense of ceremony and ritual </li></ul><ul><li>Serve as an emotional bridge between audience and actors </li></ul><ul><li>Unite the music, dance, and speech components </li></ul><ul><li>Separate the scenes/divide the action into episodes </li></ul>
  17. 17. Choral Terminology <ul><li>Prologue: the part before the Chorus enters; presents background information to situate the conflict </li></ul><ul><li>Parodos: the entrance songs of the Chorus </li></ul><ul><li>Ode: a song sung by the Chorus between episodes (scenes) </li></ul><ul><li>Epode: the final stanza in some odes </li></ul><ul><li>Paean: the concluding song, a song of thanksgiving to Dionysus </li></ul><ul><li>Exodus: the final exiting scene </li></ul><ul><li>Chorages: the Choral Leader; might dialogue with the Chorus but technically wasn’t a 4 th actor </li></ul>
  18. 18. Actors and Acting <ul><li>All roles were played by men </li></ul><ul><li>Originally, the playwright was the actor </li></ul><ul><li>Leading role: protagonist </li></ul><ul><li>Second actor: deuteragonist </li></ul><ul><li>Third actor: triagonist </li></ul><ul><li>Rule of Three : the play is limited to three actors (each played multiple roles) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The number of extras allowed was unlimited and didn’t break the rule of Three </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. The Messenger <ul><li>Reported off-stage evens and violence not able to be seen – Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Violence was too large-scale to reproduce on stage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No one could die because the actor was needed for a later role </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Often, the Messenger’s speeches contained the play’s best writing – did the poets prefer writing to staging? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Costumes <ul><li>Long, flowing robes </li></ul><ul><li>High boots, often with raised soles </li></ul><ul><li>Larger-than-life masks made of linen, wood, or cork </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Masks identified age, gender, and emotion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Masks had exaggerated features so the audience could see more easily </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. The Three Unities <ul><li>Unity of Action </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The events of the play center around one single action. There are no subplots. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Unity of Place </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The events of the play are set in one unchanging scene. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Unity of Time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The timeframe of the events of the play is limited to a 24-hour period. Previous events or background information has to be recounted on the stage. </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. The Theater <ul><li>Theatron </li></ul><ul><li>Where the audience sat; consisted of wooden seats and stone benches </li></ul><ul><li>Orchestra </li></ul><ul><li>A circular dancing area where the actors and Chorus performed. Later, this became a semi-circle as the Chorus lost its importance. </li></ul><ul><li>Thymele </li></ul><ul><li>An altar to Dionysus set in the center of the orchestra </li></ul><ul><li>Originally, this was where a goat was sacrificed. </li></ul>
  23. 23. The Theater
  24. 24. The Theater
  25. 25. The Oedipus Trilogy <ul><li>Antigone written in 442 BC </li></ul><ul><li>Oedipus Rex written in 430 BC </li></ul><ul><li>Oedipus at Colonus written 401 BC (produced after Sophocles’ death) </li></ul><ul><li>This Theban Cycle contains 3 stories about the House of Laius. </li></ul><ul><li>Chronologically, Antigone is the last of the cycle. </li></ul>
  26. 26. What is Tragedy? <ul><li>“ Any serious and dignified drama that describes a conflict between the hero (the protagonist) and a superior force (destiny, chance, society, gods) and reaches a sorrowful conclusion that arouses pity and fear in the audience” </li></ul><ul><li>-- Aristotle, Greek philosopher </li></ul>