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The Greek Theater


The Greek Theater. Background information on the history of drama ... Masks were used instead of costume changes since only 3 actors played all of the ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Greek Theater

The Greek Theater
  • Background information on the history of drama

According to Aristotles Poetics drama (tragic
writing) should include
  • Plot- the arrangement of scenes
  • Character- keep true, herobrave, no noble
    villains, stay true to the character within the
    work of literature also
  • Theme- must have a purpose, not just to entertain
  • Language- elevated speech
  • Music- behind the Greek chanting, true to theme
  • Spectacle- wows the senses, extravagant

Other elements necessary for tragedy (according
to Aristotle)
  • Hamarteia- tragic flaw, thematically linked
  • Parapeteria- turning point
  • Anagnoresis- recognition, lead character must
    realize he/she was wrong
  • Pathos- pain from empathy, the audience must feel
  • Catharsis- release

Origins of Drama
  • Began with the Dithramb- a group
    o of men singing and dancing
    to Apollo
  • Thespis- invented the idea of an actor, known as
    the Hypocrite (the answerer in Greek). The
    Hypocrite (pronounced hipocreetay) was a member
    of the Dithrambic circle and answered questions
    about Apollo or acted like Apollo.

The Golden Age of Greece (lasted about 50
years)The Playwrights
  • Aeschylus(pronounced escales)- 90 plays-first to
    include two Hypocrites in his plays and had an
    infinite number of characters
  • Sophocles- 120 plays-first to include three
  • Euripides- 92 plays-known as a realist, hated in
    his time, plays said to be too dull
  • Aristophanes- known as the comedian, plays over
    the top for most audiences
  • Menander- only one play found in 1957, The
    Grouch, rumored to have written many more

The Theater
The theater at Delphi Note- originally there was
no stage
The Introduction of the Stage
  • Masks were used instead of costume changes since
    only 3 actors played all of the roles
  • Masks had exaggerated facial expressions to show
  • They also acted as megaphones

Women on Stage
  • First in Asia
  • Not in Europe until the 1400s
  • Europe- first in Italy, second in France
  • England? Not until the late 1660s!
  • The roles of Medea, Antigone, etcwould have been
    played by men with feminine masks

Staging Medea
Structure of the Greek Play
  • The basic structure of a Greek tragedy is fairly
    simple. After a prologue spoken by one or more
    characters, the chorus enters, singing and
    dancing. Scenes then alternate between spoken
    sections (dialogue between characters and between
    characters and chorus) and sung sections (during
    which the chorus danced). Here are the basic
    parts of a Greek Tragedy

  • a. Prologue Spoken by one or two characters
    before the chorus appears. The prologue usually
    gives the mythological background necessary for
    understanding the events of the play.
  • b. Parodos This is the song sung by the chorus
    as it first enters the orchestra and dances.
  • c. First Episode This is the first of many
    "episodes" when the characters and chorus talk.
  • d. First Stasimon At the end of each episode,
    the other characters usually leave the stage and
    the chorus dances and sings a stasimon, or choral
    ode. The ode usually reflects on the things said
    and done in the episodes, and puts it into some
    kind of larger mythological framework.
  • For the rest of the play, there is alternation
    between episodes and stasima, until the final
    scene, called the...
  • e. 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.

Women in Ancient Greece
  • 5th century BC only adult Greek males were
  • Foreigners, women, children, and slaves all
  • Women always under the guardianship of a male
  • Although many plays show powerful and clever
    women, this was not representative of the Greek

More on Women in Ancient Greece
  • Around age 14 women entered an arranged marriage
    with an older man for the purpose of creating
    legitimate children
  • Separate womens quarters in the homes
  • Women did not attend dinner parties or appear at
    many public events with spouse
  • Society expected men to have sexual relationships
    outside of marriage
  • The word adultery was solely defined as a woman
    cheating on her husband
  • It was a crime against her husband because he
    would not be able to claim her children as
    legitimately his heirs

More on Women in Ancient Greece
  • Rape was a crime against the womans father or
    husband since it diminished her value as his
  • ThereforeMedeas situation of her husband
    leaving her for a younger princess was not
    unusual. What makes the play unique is Medeas
    refusal to meekly accept her fate and that the
    chorus of Corinthian women champion Medeas
    cause. Euripides dares to question the treatment
    of women in Greek society.