Introductory Lecture Notes Drama and the Elements of Tragedy

Understanding Greek Theatre

I. The Festival of  Dionysus -

 Festival of Dionysus -

II. Conventions of Greek Drama

 Actors -

 Chorus - o Functions 

 Costuming

 Scenery and Action

 Composition and Structure

o Composition . . .

o Structure . Prologue - . Parados -

III. Tragedy  Tragedy:

 Aristotle o Aristotle’s Unity of Time, Place, and Action . Time: . Place: . Action:

o Action of the play arouses extreme pity and fear in the audience – pity for the protagonist and a sympathetic fear.

(Tragedy cont.)

o Purpose of tragedy:

o Catharsis -

 Tragic

o Hamartia:

o Paripateia:

 The Fall

 Revelation

IV. and the Myth  Sophocles

Notes on Greek Burial Traditions:

The Oedipus Myth o King rules Thebes with his queen, . An oracle prophesies that his son will grow to kill him, so Laius pierces his infant son’s ankles and feet and orders Jocasta to kill him. She cannot, so she sends a servant to do it, who leaves him for dead in the mountains. o The infant is found by a servant of the King of Corinth and is then raised by the King and Queen of Corinth, who name him Oedipus (meaning “swollen foot”). o When Oedipus is a young man, an oracle tells him that he will kill his father and marry his mother so, to try to escape his fate, he flees Corinth. Along the road, he gets into an argument with a stranger and kills him. That stranger is Laius. Part 1 of the prophecy is fulfilled. o Oedipus reaches Thebes, where a sphinx is plaguing the city, but will stop if someone answers a riddle. Oedipus successfully answers the riddle (What goes on four legs in the morning, two legs in the evening, and three legs in the evening), saves the city, and becomes the king of Thebes. He marries Jocasta, and they have four children – , Polyneices, , and Antigone. o Many years later the city of Thebes is stricken with a plague; Oedipus sends his brother-in-law, , to ask the Delphic Oracle the cause of the plague. o Creon returns saying the cause is the fact that Laius’s killer is living in Thebes, unknown. o Oedipus vows to find the previous king’s killer, and through , the truth comes out. As a result, Oedipus blinds and exiles himself, and Jocasta hangs herself. o With Oedipus exiled, Eteocles and Polyneices agree to share the responsibility of ruling Thebes in alternate years, but Eteocles refuses to surrender the throne to Polyneices when the time arrives (he claims that Polyneices isn’t fit to rule). Polyneices recruits an Argive army (Argos being a long-standing enemy of Thebes). A battle/civil war ensues, and the brothers kill each other. o Jocasta’s brother, Creon, becomes king. He plans to honor one corpse while dishonoring the other.