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The History Of Greek Theater Essay

2033 words - 8 pages

Theater and drama in Ancient Greece took form in about 5thcentury BCE, with the Sopocles, the great writer of tragedy. In hisplays and those of the same genre, heroes and the ideals of life weredepicted and glorified. It was believed that man should live forhonor and fame, his action was courageous and glorious and his lifewould climax in a great and noble death.Originally, the hero's recognition was created by selfishbehaviors and little thought of service to others. As the Greeks grewtoward city-states and colonization, it became the destiny andambition of the hero to gain honor by serving his city. The secondmajor characteristic of the early Greek world was the supernatural.The two worlds were not separate, as the gods lived in the same worldas the men, and they interfered in the men's lives as they chose to.It was the gods who sent suffering and evil to men. In the plays ofSophocles, the gods brought about the hero's downfall because of atragic flaw in the character of the hero.In Greek tragedy, suffering brought knowledge of worldlymatters and of the individual. Aristotle attempted to explain how anaudience could observe tragic events and still have a pleasurableexperience. Aristotle, by searching the works of writers of Greektragedy, Aeschulus, Euripides and Sophocles (whose Oedipus Rex heconsidered the finest of all Greek tragedies), arrived at hisdefinition of tragedy. This explanation has a profound influence formore than twenty centuries on those writing tragedies, mostsignificantly Shakespeare. Aristotle's analysis of tragedy began witha description of the effect such a work had on the audience as a"catharsis" or purging of the emotions. He decided that catharsis wasthe purging of two specific emotions, pity and fear. The hero hasmade a mistake due to ignorance, not because of wickedness orcorruption. Aristotle used the word "hamartia", which is the "tragicflaw" or offense committed in ignorance. For example, Oedipus isignorant of his true parentage when he commits his fatal deed.Oedipus Rex is one of the stories in a three-part myth calledthe Thebian cycle. The structure of most all Greek tragedies issimilar to Oedipus Rex. Such plays are divided in to five parts, theprologue or introduction, the "prados" or entrance of the chorus, fourepisode or acts separates from one another by "stasimons" or choralodes, and "exodos", the action after the last stasimon. These odes arelyric poetry, lines chanted or sung as the chorus moved rhythmicallyacross the orchestra. The lines that accompanied the movement of thechorus in one direction were called "strophe", the return movement wasaccompanied by lines called "antistrophe". The choral ode mightcontain more than one strophe or antistrophe.Greek tragedy originated in honor of the god of wine,Dionysus, the patron god of tragedy. The performance took place in anopen-air theater. The word tragedy is derived from the term"tragedia" or "goat-song", named for the goat skins the chorus wore inthe...

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