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Dramatic Competitions


Dramatic Competitions Theater of Dionysus – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Dramatic Competitions

Dramatic Competitions
  • Theater of Dionysus

Role of Drama in Athens
  • Comedies and tragedies were performed in the city
    as part of an important civic religious festival
    called the City Dionysia.
  • The festival lasted several days and included
    several types of performance, all of which were
    competitions for important civic honor and prizes
  • Dramas usually focused on the city and city life
    of Athens

Role of Drama pt 2
  • The audience and most performers were citizens
  • The judging of the dramatic competitions followed
    Athenian democracyany citizen could participate
  • Judges were selected randomly from the audience
    (giving the gods a chance to participate). An urn
    from each of the 10 tribes contained the names of
    citizens eligible to serve as judges to prevent
    bribery, one name was drawn from each urn at the
    start of the festival.

The Competitions
  • Dithyrambs were performed by two choruses, one
    composed of 50 men and one of 50 boys, who sung
    and danced in honor of Dionysus. Each of the 10
    tribes of Athens put on a dithyramb each set of
    choruses was trained and financed by a choregos,
    a wealthy citizen who did this as part of his
    civic duty. The prize went to the choregos and
    the tribe he represented.
  • Comedies Initially 3 and eventually 5 comic
    playwrights, each presenting one comedy, competed
    for the comic prize. Comedies were set in the
    contemporary era and often caricatured living as
    well as fictional Athenians.
  • Tragedies and Satyr Plays Three tragic
    playwrights, each presenting 3 tragedies and a
    single satyr play on a separate day, competed for
    the prize in tragedy. Like tragedies, satyr plays
    were set in the mythological past and featured
    gods and heroes, but the chorus of the this type
    of drama was always composed of satyrs,
    boisterous, half-animal companions of Dionysus
    whose comical predicaments contrasted with the
    serious tone of the preceding tragedies.

Structure of Greek Tragedy
  • 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.
  • Parodos This is the song sung by the chorus as
    it first enters the orchestra and dances.
  • First Episode This is the first of many
    "episodes", when the characters and chorus talk.
  • 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.
  • NOTE For the rest of the play, there is
    alternation between episodes and stasima, until
    the final scene.
  • 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.

  • The son of Zeus and Semele, a woman of Thebes
  • God of wine and madness, vegetation, and the
  • Theater performances often had religious
    significance in the worship of Dionysus
    punishment for wrongs, tragic death, loss of
    identity masks on actors the chorus

Agamemnon Background Information
  • Why did Paris Steal Helen aka Helen of Troy?
  • Paris was the youngest son of Priam and Hecuba.
    When he was born, it was foretold that he would
    be the cause of the downfall of Troy, as told in
    a dream of Hecuba. He was sent out of Troy in
    hopes that the message would be false.
  • An apple inscribed "To the fairest" was claimed
    by the goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. They
    all asked Zeus to decide on who should receive
    the apple. Zeus asked Paris to be the Judge.
  • Paris, being a mortal, could not decide. However,
    each of the three goddesses decided to make it
    easier for him. They would each offer him gifts,
    and he would get the gifts form the goddess he

What Paris was offered
  • Hera offered Paris power. She offered to give him
    all of Asia, and great power. He thought this
    offer was great, but he decided to hear the other
    offers first before deciding.
  • Athena offered him great wisdom, and great luck
    in battle. He would be the best strategist in the
    world. He loved this idea, but he waited to hear
    Aphrodite's offer.
  • Aphrodite offered him two things. The first was
    his body his life, and the second was the love
    of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen.
    Since Paris's first love was women, he decided to
    pick Aphrodite's offer. Hera and Athena vowed
  • Paris soon went home to Troy after that, and with
    Aphrodite's help, he managed to send a fleet of
    ships, break into Menelaus' palace in Greece and
    kidnap Helen. He also took a lot of treasure with

Why would everyone go after Helen when she was
stolen from Menelaus?
  • Everyone wanted to marry Helen because she was
    the most beautiful woman in Greece and her father
    Tyndareus feared there would be war amongst the
  • Odysseus suggested that each suitor swear an oath
    to stand behind whomever Tyndareus selected and
    be ready at any time in the future to defend the
    favored bridegroom against any wrong done to him
    in respect to the marriage. Everyone agreed to
    these terms.
  • It may be important to realize that Helen really
    had little say-so in this arrangement. Menelaus
    was a political choice on her father's part. He
    had wealth and power, mainly through his brother
    Agamemnon, but for Helen, he did not offer the
    good looks and glamour of some of her other

Why does Aegithus want revenge on Agamemnon?
  • The House of Atreus suffers from an ancient
  • As part of the working out of this curse,
    Agamemnon's father, Atreus, had quarreled
    violently with his brother Thyestes.
  • As a result of this quarrel, Atreus had killed
    Thyestes's sons and fed them to him at a
    reconciliation banquet.
  • Thyestes, overcome with horror, produced a child
    with his surviving daughter in order to have
    someone to avenge the crime.
  • The offspring of that sexual union was Aegisthus.

Why does Clytaemnestra Agamemnons wife want
revenge on Agamemnon?
  • Agamemnon calls his troops together to go after
    Helen, but they commit a sin and the Goddess
    punishes them by stopping the wind so they cannot
    set sail.
  • In order to appease the Goddess, Agamemnon must
    sacrifice his eldest daughter Iphigenia.
  • Clytaemnestra cannot forgive Agamemnon for
    killing their daughter in order to retrieve the
    runaway Helen.

Major Theme of Revenge
  • Agamemnon wants revenge for the wrong Paris did
    to his brother Menelaus by stealing Menelaus
    wife Helen.
  • Clytaemnestra wants revenge for the killing of
    her daughter Iphigenia.
  • Aegithus wants revenge for the slaughter of his
  • Agamemnon is part of a three part play series. It
    shows how unchecked revenge simply causes more
    death and pain to those in power and everyone
    around them.

Understanding Drama
  • Types of Drama
  • Tragedy solemn, personal, religious social
    issues often ends in death
  • Tragic Flaw our hero often suffers from great
    pride (hubris) and this leads to a grave mistake
    leading to tragedy
  • Catharsis Pity Fear The audience pities the
    actors suffering on stage and fears they too
    might make a mistake and suffer a similar fate
  • Comedy humorous/solving often ends in a
  • Farce Physical think three stooges
  • Satire Morals/ Manners makes fun of society
    and its ways

Analyzing Drama Setting
  • Scenery- (location, time period, social class)
  • Lighting-(time, season, mood, action, character)
  • Costumes- (age, class, profession, ethnicity)
  • Props-(have significance)
  • In Agamemnon, remember we are in Ancient Greece
    and Agamemnon is shown as king and Clytaemnestra
    is queen thus they wear fancy robes and have
    beautiful masks.

Dramatic Structure
  • Exposition ( who, what, where, when)
  • Introduces our main characters, where and when
    they are, and what is happening.
  • Conflict (Problem of main character)
  • In Agamemnon, Agamemnon returns from Troy but
    both Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus want revenge on
  • Climax (Pivotal point in action)
  • In Agamemnon, this is where Cassandra tells of
    Agamemnons death happening off stage.
  • Resolution ( How does it all work out?)
  • In Agamemnon, at the end, Clytaemnestra and
    Aegisthus succeed but the son of Agamemnon,
    Orestes, vows revenge on them for his fathers
    death. Thus the circle of revenge will continue.

  • Types of Characters
  • Protagonist vs. Antagonist
  • Confidant (friend or servant)
  • Stock characters comic, victim, braggart,
    pretender, fool
  • We learn about characters
  • Externally through names, appearance, physique,
    speech, accent, dress, status, class, education,
    friends, family, interests.
  • Internally through thoughts, feelings, emotions.

Dramatic Irony, Theme and Overall Message
  • Dramatic Irony Contrast between what the
    characters know and what the audience knows.
  • In Agamemnon, the audience and chorus knows
    Clytaemnestra is up to no good, but Agamemnon
    does not.
  • Theme (s) Repeated ideas or messages throughout
    the play.
  • In Agamemnon, the greatest theme is revenge.
  • Overall Message What the playwright wants the
    audience to think about the theme(s).
  • In Agamemnon, the playwright wants the audience
    to realize that the cycle of revenge must stop.
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