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Introduction to Greek Drama


Introduction to Greek Drama English II PAP Mr. Sands SOPHOCLES Born in Colonus, Greece in 497 B.C. Died in 406 B. C. at approximately 90 years old Lived during the ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction to Greek Drama

Introduction to Greek Drama
  • English II PAP
  • Mr. Sands

  • Born in Colonus, Greece in 497 B.C.
  • Died in 406 B. C. at approximately 90 years old
  • Lived during the Golden Age of Greece
  • He was a successful musician, athlete and
    respected playwright
  • He was also active in social and political life.
    He held several priesthoods, was imperial
    treasurer in 443 B.C., and a general in 440 B.C.

Sophocles as a Playwright
  • In the drama festivals of his day, he won the
    first place prize for best play twenty-four
  • He wrote more than a hundred plays but only seven
    remain. The most famous of his plays being
    Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone
    and Electra.

Sophocles Impact on Drama
  • Expanded its format by adding a third actor
  • Increased dialogue
  • Decreased the importance of the chorus by fixing
    its number at 15
  • Invented painted scenery and added flute music in
    the background
  • Made each play of a trilogy stand by itself as a
    separate story

Structure of a Greek Tragedy
  1. Prologue the actors present the opening
    situation on stage
  2. Parados the entering song and dance of the
  3. Episodes periods of more action by the actors
  4. Stasima/Stasimon choral ode or song commenting
    on the action
  5. Exodus the last action of the play

The Greek Theatre
like an outdoor stadium that could hold from
15,000 20,000 people
The Greek Theatre
  • Semi-circular in shape
  • Theatron area of seats for the audience
    hollowed out from the hillside
  • Orchestra large area in front of the stage
    where the chorus sang and danced
  • Thymele the altar centered in the orchestra
    used for sacrifices to Dionysus
  • Parados walled walkway used by the chorus to
    enter and exit the stage
  • Pro-scenium a long, low stage behind the
  • Skene building that contained the actors
    dressing rooms

Greeks Special Effects
  • deus ex machina (god from the machine) type
    of crane used for suspending figures who
    portrayed gods
  • eccylema moveable or revolving platform
  • There were no curtains, intermissions, lights, or
    microphones. Because of this, all scenes took
    place in daylight settings, all scenes changes
    had to be built into the dialogue of the actors
    and the chorus and actors had to have strong

The Actors
  • Only 3 actors that wore masks to play multiple
  • All actors were men because it was considered
    undignified for women to appear on stage
  • Wore padded costumes, wigs and high-heeled boots
    to make them taller and give them added dignity
    and power
  • Actors had to be able to speak in poetic language
    and sing using a loud and clear voice

The Chorus
  • Consisted of singers and dancers led by a
  • Started out with 50 people but Sophocles fixed
    the number at 15
  • The playwright used the chorus and their songs
  • Add the beauty of song and dance
  • Set the mood or express the main themes of the
    play by commenting on the action
  • Create a bridge between the actors and the
  • Converse with and give advice to the actors
  • Tell about events that have already happened in
    the past
  • Foretell the future by interpreting the actions
    of the actors

The Stories
  • Originally hymns and prayers honoring the gods,
    especially Dionysus
  • Over time, content changed to legends of Greek
    leaders and heroes
  • Tragedy showed what happened to a person who
    went against the laws of the gods or who was too

  • Stems from the Greek belief that man was subject
    to the whims of the gods and fate
  • The root of Greek tragedy is that man can not
    avoid suffering
  • Mans fault pride, a mistaken belief that he
    could somehow avoid fate or the will of the gods

  • Excessive pride
  • Leads to suffering and then to an understanding
    (catharsis) of mans place in the system of life
  • The audience was to learn a lesson through the
    tragedies that befell the characters on stage
    because they did not follow the will of the gods
    or because they tried to avoid their own destiny
    based in hubris

Origin of Drama
  • Developed by ancient Greeks during celebrations
    honoring Dionysus
  • Dionysus god of the vine which produced grapes
    for wine associated with resurrection and
  • Because of the choral songs, the early Greek
    plays resembled what we call opera today

Festival of Dionysus
  • Took place in Athens during 5 days in March or
  • First day procession honoring Dionysus in which
    all citizens participated
  • Second day the choral songs were performed
  • Last 3 days three tragedies followed by one
    satyr (satire mock heroic tragedies) play and
    one comedy were performed

Festival of Dionysus cont.
  • The archon, a state official, selected three
    poets to compete for the prizes in the tragedy
  • The choregus, a wealthy, prominent citizen of
    Athens, was required by law to pay for the cost
    of training and costumes for the chorus.
  • A jury of 10 citizens selected the winning poet
  • The playwright served as a sort of teacher,
    offering plays for the ethical and moral
    improvement of his fellow citizens to insure the
    spiritual survival of the community

  • Third of Sophocles Theban plays
  • Antigone Oedipus daughter princess of Thebes
  • Breaks the law to bury her brother who has been
    labeled a traitor by the king, her uncle.

Oedipus Background
  • Look at the Oedipus Family Treedo you notice
    anything strange?
  • Read the Oedipus handout and answer the
    corresponding questions

The Oedipus Family Tree
  • The Perfect Jerry Springer
  • Episode

King Oedipus married Queen Jocasta (his
  • They had 4 children (Eww)
  • -Eteocles -Antigone
  • -Polynices -Ismene
  • / /
  • Sons (Os brothers?) Daughters (sisters?)
  • Fight for Thebes Go back to Thebes
  • Cursed by dying father
  • Kill each other

King Creon of Thebes married Queen Eurydice
  • Creon is Oedipus uncle, Jocastas brother (also
    Oedipus brother-in-law)
  • They have two sons
  • Megareus Haemon
  • / /
  • dies during betrothed to Antigone,
  • siege of Thebes his cousin

  • Jessica Nugent CHHS, Colleyville, TX
  • Stefanie Tziarri Lawrence High School, Mercer
    County, NJ
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