background for antigone; greek literature

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GREEK theatre : 

GREEK theatre Background Information for Oedipus Rex & Antigone

Do Now: : 

Do Now: What were the hardest words or phrases to understand in the text? List them. 2. List one question you wrote that you really need answered to understand the text better? 3. What did you think of Oedipus?

Do Now: : 

Do Now: Why did the Greeks perform plays? List 3-5 reasons. What makes a character a tragic hero in a play? List 3-5 characteristics. What is the purpose of a chorus in Greek play?

Do Now Pop Quiz: : 

Do Now Pop Quiz: List 3 examples of Tragic flaws below. List 3 ways which the chorus of a Greek play can help the audience. Identify a catastrophe that has occurred in history. What is a choragos? Who is Sophocles?

Slide 5: 

The land The myths The stage

The Land : 

The Land Located in Europe in the Aegean Sea

The Land : 

The Land


PURPOSE OF GREEK DRAMA Dramas presented by the state at annual religious festivals. Typically the Festival of Dionysius, the God of Wine, Fertility & Revelry Plays were supposed to be presented for the purpose of ethical and moral improvement of the spectators and to ensure the spiritual survival of the community. And a little entertainment, too!  Winners of prizes were selected by ten citizens chosen by lots for the duty.


FESTIVALS OF DIONYSUS In honor of the god of Wine, Fertility, and Revelry Myths relate to seasonal growing cycles and passions of Man Purpose of worship was inducement of fertility 8th-7th Century B.C.--contests of choral dancing held at many festivals ; “dithyrambs”

DITHYRAMB“Ecstatic Hymn” : 


First Definite Record of Drama in Greece: 534 B.C. : 

First Definite Record of Drama in Greece: 534 B.C. “City Dionysia” (late March) reorganized Contest for Best Tragedy instituted Winner of first contest is Thespis, who also acted in the performance Actors today are known as “Thespians”, in honor of the first known Greek actor.


Actors were all male. They wore masks. Scenes of the drama were always outdoors; indoor actions were reported by messengers. There was no violence on stage There was “unity” in plot -- no subplots or irrelevancies. (Less Confusing) The action always took place in one day. There were no curtains or intermissions. CHARACTERISTICS OF GREEK DRAMA

Tragedy : 

Tragedy Tragedy is a work of literature that results in a catastrophe for the main character. In Greek drama, the main character was always a significant person, a king or a hero, and the cause of the tragedy was a tragic flaw, or weakness in his or her character.


CONCEPT OF TRAGIC HERO AND TRAGEDY (from Aristotle) Tragedy arouses the emotions of pity, fear, wonder and awe. A tragic hero must be a man or woman capable of great suffering. Tragedy explores the question of the ways of God to man. Tragedy purifies the emotions (catharsis) Tragedy shows how man is brought to disaster by a single flaw in his own character.

Typical Structure of a Tragedy : 

Typical Structure of a Tragedy Ancient Greek playwrights used a consistent format for most of their productions. A Chorus is used to divide the scenes (similar to how a curtain does in present day performances) through a song that comments on the action of the previous scene. The Choragos is the leader of the chorus, and serves as another character in the play


THE CHORUS IN GREEK DRAMA The function of the chorus was to : set the mood of the drama interpret events relieve the tension generalize meaning of the action converse with and give advice to the actors give background information emphasize the beauty of poetry and dancing leader acted as spokesman for the group

Slide 18: 

The typical structure of a tragedy is as follows: Prologue – exposition which provide background to the conflict Parados or parode – Opening song or ode Strophê – the chorus sings a stanza while moving from right to left while singing Antistrophê - the chorus sings a stanza while moving from left to right while singing Epode – included in some odes as a final stanza Paean – a thanksgiving to Dionysos Exodos – final exiting scene


SUBJECT OF PLAYS The subject was almost exclusively taken from well-known myths. The plays explored the mysteries of life and the role of the gods in human affairs. The main purpose was ethical and religious instruction.


STYLE IN PLAYS There are long, wordy speeches (sometimes about current events or contemporary people).

Meet Sophocles(496-406 B.C.) : 

Meet Sophocles(496-406 B.C.) Sophocles was born and raised in Athens He is regarded as one of the world’s greatest playwrights. He frequently won 1st place at the Dionysian festivals, which were competitions between playwrights. During his life, he wrote over 100 plays, but only 7 have survived. Among these 7 are: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone.


MESSAGE FROM TRAGEDIES Out of great tragedy comes wisdom.



Summary:Main idea, details and reflection of learning : 

Summary:Main idea, details and reflection of learning Today I learned a Greek Hero must be someone in a high position of power, who also goes through some sort of struggle. That character also suffers a tragedy or catastrophe because of a tragic flaw or weakness in their character. A tragic flaw could be greed or lust or stubbornness. In a Greek tragedy the characters also believe in fate and this impacts their decision making. I think this is similar to Oedipus because he automatically believed the god Apollo without even questioning the god. I think Antigone will also have a tragic hero similar to Oedipus. (this sentence reflects my learning)

Now that you are familiar with Greek Tragedy, you are ready to begin your task… : 

Now that you are familiar with Greek Tragedy, you are ready to begin your task… Your Task: You are a detective assigned to investigate the death of Antigone. Before you can understand her death, you must first become aware of the circumstances surrounding her life. You will obtain background information about Anigone’s family life, and the society in which she lived, by following the trail of clues linked to her death.

Oedipus rex, Antigone and Greek Theatre Terms : 

Oedipus rex, Antigone and Greek Theatre Terms exodus -- Dionysus -- skene -- theatron or orchestra -- parados -- thymele -- prologue – episode -- stasimon -- chorus – choragas -- proscenium -- choral ode -- strophe -- antistrophe – epode -- hubris – humartia -- sphinx -- unities --

Oedipus rex, Antigone and Greek Theatre Terms, cont. : 

Oedipus rex, Antigone and Greek Theatre Terms, cont. exodus -- final action of the play Dionysus -- God of drama, wine, revelry skene -- wooden building with three doors through which actors made their entrances and exits theatron or orchestra -- dancing place of the chorus parados -- chorus marching in from the left or right thymele -- altar to Dionysus on which sacrifices were made, and which was sometimes used as a stage prop

Slide 28: 

prologue -- opening scene (introduction) episode -- act or scene stasimon -- choral ode (end of each episode) chorus -- clarifies experiences and feelings of the characters and expresses conventional attitude toward development in the story; also sets the mood proscenium -- level area in front of the skene on which most of the plays action took place choral ode -- lyric sung by the chorus which develops the importance of the action

Slide 29: 

strophe -- a turning, right to left, by chorus antistrophe -- a turning, left to right, by chorus choragas -- leader of the chorus epode -- the part of a lyric ode following the strophe and antistrophe hubris -- Greek word for excessive pride or arrogance

Slide 30: 

humartia -- Greek word for error in judgment, especially resulting from a defect in the character of a tragic hero; the tragic flaw sphinx -- a female monster, usually represented as having the head and breast of a woman, the body of a lion, and the wings of an eagle unities -- time, place, action; a play should have no subplot, should not cover more than 24 hours and should not have more than one locale

Slide 31: 

Masks of Greek Theater

Slide 32: 

The masks were worn for many reason including: 1. Visibility 2. Acoustic Assistance 3. Few Actors, Many Roles 4. Characterization

Slide 34: 

Masks of Greek Theater

Slide 36: 

Masks of Greek Theater

Slide 37: 

Modern-day replicas Hero-King Comedy (Servant or Herald ) Tragedy (Weeping Chorus)


THE THEATRE OF THE GREEKS The Grecian Amphitheatre (Where They Performed)

Slide 39: 

The Stage

The Stage : 

The Stage

Slide 41: 

Theater at Epidaurus

Slide 42: 

Theater at Epidaurus

Once, on a Hill Far Away… : 

Once, on a Hill Far Away… The theatre of the Greeks was built on the slope of a hill This secured sufficient elevation for the back row of seats without enormous substructures (which the Romans used) If the surface was rocky, semicircles were cut out, tier above tier (level above level) If it was soft ground, an excavation was made in the hillside and lined with rows of stone benches The steps were often made with marble, as in the theatre of Dionysus at Athens.

The Circular Pit : 

The Circular Pit The circular pit that was formed by the seating was enclosed by a lofty portico and balustraded terrace This area was assigned to the spectators. The auditorium was divided by broad concentric belts, named diazomata, which served as lobbies, Had eleven rows of seats between each, and these were further divided into wedges by transverse flights of stairs between the lobbies, converging on the centre of the orchestra. The latter resembled the passages in a trireme with its banks of oars, and hence were called selides or gangways, the subdivisions, eleven to each section, suggesting as many benches of rowers.

The Auditorium : 

The Auditorium The auditorium was divided, as with contemporary theatres, into several parts But the assignment of seats was determined not by a money payment, but by rank and other considerations. Thus the rows nearest the orchestra were set apart for the members of the council, while others were reserved for young men, who sat together, or for those who, for whatever reason, were entitled to them. Most of the space was given to the general public, who with these exceptions could make their own choice of seats.

Parts of a Greek Theatre : 

Parts of a Greek Theatre ORKESTRA: circular acting space at center, translates as “dancing place” THYMELE: Altar stone at center of orkestra TEATRON: Spectator seating; “seeing place” SKENE: Stage building behind orkestra; where we get the words “scene” and “scenery”

The Orchestra (Orkestra) : 

The Orchestra (Orkestra) The orchestra was ten or twelve feet below the front row of seats which formed its boundary A portion of its space was occupied by a raised platform, which superseded the altar of Dionysus in the centre, though still known as the thymele. In front of the orchestra, and on a level with the lowest tier of seats, was the stage Flights of steps led from the orchestra, with others leading to chambers below, known as Charon's stairways; They were used for the entrance of spectres from the nether world and for the ghostly apparitions of the dead.


SKENE STAGE HOUSE: provides scenic background, a place to change costumes, place to exit Had one to three doors May have been raised up off ground level Developed a second story in later years

Parts of a Greek Theatre : 

Parts of a Greek Theatre PARADOS/PARADOI: entry ramps for the chorus between the Teatron and Skene; where we get the word “parade” PERIAKTOI: Three-sided turnable column used as a scenic device, placed in space between columns of skene MACHINA: Crane-like device used to suspend celestial figures above the action; “deus ex machina” means “god from the machine”

Side View: Orkestra and Teatron : 

Side View: Orkestra and Teatron

Orkestra with Thymele, Skene : 

Orkestra with Thymele, Skene

Teatron : 


AUDITORIUM“The Hearing Place”Includes Orkestra and Teatron : 

AUDITORIUM“The Hearing Place”Includes Orkestra and Teatron

Seating for the Priests : 

Seating for the Priests

The Head Priest’s Chair : 

The Head Priest’s Chair


GREEK PLAYWRIGHTS Only 5 playwrights and 45 plays survive According to Aristotle, drama developed out of improvisation by the leaders of the dithyrambs Early “plays”, such as those by Thespis, were no more than a discourse between one actor (“Protagonist”) and the chorus. In later years, playwrights wrote 3 Tragedies and one Satyr Play for the contests at the City Dionysia

Major Greek Dramatists : 

Major Greek Dramatists

AESCHYLUS: 525-456 B.C. : 

AESCHYLUS: 525-456 B.C. Tragic Playwright, Introduced Second Actor, “Deuteragonist” Encouraged face-to-face conflict between characters reduced importance of chorus, size from 50 to @15 Wrote Agamemnon and Prometheus Bound

SOPHOCLES: 496-406 B.C. : 

SOPHOCLES: 496-406 B.C. Considered greatest Greek dramatist, wrote tragedies Created Third Actor More concerned with human relationships than religious issues Wrote Oedipus Rex (the King) and Antigone

EURIPIDES: 480-406 B.C. : 

EURIPIDES: 480-406 B.C. Last of great Greek Tragic playwrights Reduced chorus to relatively unimportant role Treated Gods with lack of awe Wrote Medea and The Trojean Women

ARISTOPHANES: 450-385 B.C. : 

ARISTOPHANES: 450-385 B.C. Comic Playwright, “Old Comedy”, discusses “happy idea” Wrote Lysistrata, an anti-war comedy


ONE LAST WORD ON GREEK TRAGEDIES… General pattern developed by Aeschylus PROLOGOS: establishes dramatic situation PARODOS: Entrance of Chorus, “exposition” EPEISODA: main action, equivalent of an “Act” STASIMA: Choral interlude, makes comment on the action in the Epeisoda Climax occurs in last Epeisoda, so that last Stasima allows final comment by the chorus EXODOS: Final summation and exit of Chorus

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