free booknotes online

Help / FAQ




<- Previous Page | First Page | Next Page ->
MonkeyNotes-Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles
Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version

LITERARY/HISTORICAL INFORMATION

Greek Tragedy

Although originally stemming from the "Dionysia" or religious festivals dedicated to Dionysius, the God of Wine, Greek tragedy was solemn, poetic, and philosophic in tone. Plays such as the ones about Oedipus often told the tale of a central character/protagonist who was an admirable but not necessarily, a perfect person. This individual was often confronted by hostile forces from both outside (the fates or gods) and within (individual free will, pride, etc.). The protagonist often had to make difficult moral/ethical choices in order to resolve these conflicts. If the protagonist's struggle ended in defeat or death, the play was labeled a tragedy. Most Greek tragedies were based on myths and, as Aristotle says, were "an imitation of an action" that was both serious and complete in itself.


Tragedies were marked by certain common elements. They consisted of a series of dramatic episodes linked by choral odes, chanted by an on-stage chorus of 12 -15 persons. This chorus often commented on the dramatic action or analyzed, in their own fashion, the pattern of events and the behavior of the central character/characters. They sang, danced, and recited the choral odes and lyrics to the accompaniment of such musical instruments as the lyre or flute (which Dionysus himself is known to have played). The main episodes were performed by, at the most, three actors who could appear simultaneously on stage. Men played both men and women's parts and the three central actors shared all the roles in a play. Masks were worn to depict the kind of characters they represented, such as an aging man or a young woman. The use of masks was a way to surrender or submerge one's own identity -- a principle basic to all Dionysian rituals.

For a clearer idea of how Greek tragedy works, one must refer to Aristotle's definitive comments given in his great critical treatise about Greek drama, entitled The Poetics (circa 335 B.C.). It deals with theories of Greek tragedy as seen in the finest plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. These principles of classical Greek tragedy have influenced almost all the later tragic dramatists of the Western world.

Though modern tragedy often deviates widely from the Greek classical norms, it still acknowledges the universality of Aristotle's fundamental concepts, especially his ability to pinpoint those elements in human nature that are, always and everywhere, responsible for tragedy in life.

Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version


<- Previous Page | First Page | Next Page ->
MonkeyNotes-Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles
Google
Web
PinkMonkey

Google
  Web PinkMonkey.com   

All Contents Copyright PinkMonkey.com
All rights reserved. Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.


About Us
 | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page
This page was last updated: 5/9/2017 8:53:16 AM