Sophocles:The Legend Of Greek Tragedy Essay

979 words - 4 pages

Sophocles: The Legend of Greek TragedySophocles, perhaps more than any other Athenian author, typified the ancient Greek ideal that a man, no matter what his other ambitions and accomplishments, should live fully in the present (Robinson 1). Sophocles exemplified living in the present. He was involved in many different activities, from civic duties to various capacities in the state. He has been called the quintessence of the Greek, the great tragedian, and he has become immortal within the realm of Greek poets. The spirit of Sophocles is the strife to understand the irresistible movement of events, and man's helplessness as far as fate is concerned (Hamilton 258-59). This strife for knowledge is the driving force behind Sophocles' great tragedies. Aristotle wrote, "Tragedy should be a serious and complete imitation of action; it should arouse pity and fear and provide a catharsis, or purging of these emotions" (Robinson 3).In ancient Greece, dramas were performed each year in Athens as part of the festival of Dionysius, the god of wine, vegetation, religious ecstasy, the mask, and the theater. Tragedies were introduced relatively late in the historyof the Athenian theater, probably in the 430's (Segal 36-37). The entire process of Greek tragedy production was in the hands of the author.The staging of the plays was simple. The circular performance area was backed by a long, low building with a slightly raised platform in front of it. Compared to modern plays, the stage was bare. There were few props, and only three male actors per play. The plays were performed from beginning to end without an intermission (Segal 38-39). The simplicity of the staging and the lack of props allowed the imagination of the audience to run wild. Sophocles used all aspects of Greek theater, including the chorus, to make his production have an effect on the audience. The chorus was an extremely important part of Greek theater production. In the beginning, the chorus had a role that was almost equivalent to one of the three actors, but over time its importance decreased. The chorus was made up of fifteen amateurs who eventually wanted to become one of the three actors. The chorus has a way of making the audience feel itself a part of the play. This happened because the chorus often reflected public opinion. From the different accounts of the chorus, we know that singing and dances were integral elements of Greek drama (Robinson 7).Sophocles, son of Siphillios, was born in 497 B.C. Siphillos was a wealthy armorer who was in charge of a sizable gang of slaves who worked as craftsmen, and he maintained a prestigious level of political stance. In 468 B.C. Sophocles won his first dramatic victory at a competition, defeating his tragic predecessor, Aeschylus. Between the years of 443 B.C. and 440 B.C., Sophocles held important positions in the Athenian government. His election to...

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