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Greek Drama: 

Greek Drama A Classic Study

Where It All Began: 

Where It All Began Greek drama grew out of religious rituals honoring Dionysus (Dionysos), the god of wine, ecstasy and fertility. During celebrations worshipers would dance around the altar singing hymns with flute accompaniment. Worshipers of Dionysus were often women.

Tragedy or Goat Song: 

Tragedy or Goat Song In 6th Century B.C. the Dionysian celebrations became an annual festival held in a large amphitheater in Athens. Dancing Choruses began competing for prizes, often a bull or a goat. Tragedy comes from the Greek language and literally means goat song. Middle English tragedie, from Old French, from Latin tragoedia, from Greek trag idi  : tragos, goat + aoid , id , song; see wed-2 in Indo-European Roots.]

Thespis: Giver of the First Actor: 

Thespis: Giver of the First Actor The English word thespian means actor. Thespis introduced the first actor by transforming hymns into songs that told stories having one chorus member step away to play the part of a hero or a god.


Dionysia The celebration became a 4 day festival Holiday—No one worked and prisoners were released from jail. Playwrights presented plays over the course of three days.

3 Ancient Greek Genre: 

3 Ancient Greek Genre Tragedy—Powerful heroic character and unhappy ending Comedy—Ordinary people as heroic character and happy ending Satyr—Comedic and lewd (like R rated w/o a point)

Theater of Dionysus: 

Theater of Dionysus Amphitheater Seats carved out of stone on a hillside Orchestra Platform for actors (like stage) Masks to amplify sound and show expression All male cast (actors were men and choruses were well-trained boys)

Tragedy…Religious Entertainment for a Purpose: 

Tragedy…Religious Entertainment for a Purpose Evoke pity and fear Catharsis—To purge these emotions Through a hero who is great and falls to a low place because of his own faults.

6 Elements of Tragedy According to Aristotle: 

6 Elements of Tragedy According to Aristotle Tragedy has six parts, which he viewed in this order of importance: Plot (combination of incidents) is most important because drama is action. Characters (moral qualities of the agents) are second in importance, reveal the moral purpose. Diction (composition of verses) is the expression of thought in words. Thought (theme) consists of saying what can be said and what is appropriate (philosophy). Melody (song) is an element of pleasure. Spectacle (stage appearance) is the last consideration. (Poetics, 1.VI)

Three Unities of Tragedy: 

Three Unities of Tragedy Unity of Time All events occur within one 24-hour period Unity of Place All action occurs in one place Unity of Action Plot is unified No subplots No mix of comedy and tragedy

Tragic Hero : 

Tragic Hero Person of high or noble birth with good intentions Has a tragic flaw—hamartia Often hubris—excessive pride Experiences a reversal of fortune Point of recognition Tries to reverse his fortune Falls from high place