Greek Tragedy & Chorus


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Greek Tragedy & Chorus

  1. 1. Structure of Greek Tragedyand the Role of the Chorus What you need to know when reading Oedipus Rex
  2. 2. The awesome amphitheater Plays were performed in HUGE outdoor amphitheatres that could seat 40,000 people (Yankee Stadium seats 52, 325) No microphones! But you can hear a penny drop from all the way at the top!
  3. 3. Cast And action All actors were men. They wore masks to depict which characters they were. There were no scene changes (no backstage!) The audience knew the story ahead of time. The emotion of the characters was what they came to see. Violent action took place offstage (I.e. audience had to imagine it). Messengers then told the audience what happened.
  4. 4. Unity of Time, Place, and Action Greek plays were much different from the films we are used to:  The unity of action: Play follows one main storyline with no or few subplots.  The unity of place: play occurs in a single place and does not change setting (the stage represents one place)  The unity of time: the action in a play should take place over no more than 24 hours.
  5. 5. So what is the chorus? The chorus was a group of 12-15 men who sang and danced during the plays. They often represent the community’s thoughts but not necessarily the poet’s thoughts. In Oedipus Rex, the chorus is made of senators – wise old guys!
  6. 6. The Role of the Chorus  To set the mood of the play and tell us the themes  To interpret the action in relation to the law of the state and the law of the Olympian gods  To divide the action and offer reflection on events  To give background information  (Think of it like you have all your grandparents, aunts, and uncles sitting around commenting on your life)
  7. 7. Structure of Tragedy A Greek Tragedy alternates between odes and episodes Odes are songs sung by the chorus to comment on the action Episodes are when characters talk together (Dialogue)
  8. 8. In more detail… Prologue: The first part of the play that give background information. Parodos: The first song the chorus sings. Choral Ode: At the end of each episode, the other characters leave the stage and the chorus sings!
  9. 9. The End Exodos: At the end of play, the chorus exits singing a processional song which usually offers words of wisdom related to the actions and outcome of the play.  This is the “moral” of the story where the chorus tells us what we were have supposed to learn from the characters
  10. 10. Exit Slip What is an ode? What is an episode? How do they work in a Greek Tragedy? What does unity of time and place mean in Greek tragedy? Name 2 purposes of the chorus in a Greek tragedy. What would be the benefit of being in a chorus?