Transcript File

Greek Drama
Key Terms
Drama: a story acted out on a stage for an audience
 Tragedy: a dramatic work that presents the downfall
of a dignified character, usually ending in a
character’s death.
 Comedy: a dramatic work that is light and often
humorous in tone, usually ending happily, with a
peaceful resolution of the main conflict.
Key Terms
Irony: usually involved a misunderstanding or
difference in understanding, creating a gap in
understanding that is appreciated by the audience.
 Dramatic Irony: the reader or audience has
knowledge of a situation that the characters do not
know. The characters’ subsequent actions based
on that missing information creates irony.
 Tragic Irony: a noble character is undone by
mistaken judgment
Dramatic Beginnings
 Began in 6th century B.C.
 Religious festivals honoring Dionysus, the god of
wine and fertility, or new growth
 Masked dancers performed on circular stage
 Thespis of Icaria, a Greek poet, introduced the first
actor to the stage
thespian, meaning actor, comes from his name
Actor would represent multiple characters through the use of
masks and costumes
 Plays continued to be religious in nature
Asked questions about the role of fate in human life and the
relationship between mortals and the gods
 tragedy comes from Greek word for goat, a sacred animal to
And then…
 Plays evolved into a form of entertainment
 Writers competed for prizes before thousands of
spectators at the festivals of Dionysus in Athens
 Hundreds of Greek tragedies were performed
 Only 35 have survived
 Plays were based on familiar
myths and legends that audiences
were familiar with
 Audience is aware of things that
the characters are not (Dramatic
 Imagine watching a play about
Little Red Riding Hood or any
other familiar fairy tale. What
would you know that
the characters would not?
Four Great Play Writes
Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus (tragedy)
 Aristophanes (comedy)
 Each contributed something significant to the
What They Did for the Tragedy:
 Aeschylus: added a second actor, which created
 Sophocles: added a third actor, which created more
intriguing plots
 Euripides: added stage effects and more realistic
More about Sophocles
 In his youth, he was a wrestler, a
dancer, and a musician
 He became a military leader, and
worked in politics
 He served as an ambassador and a
public treasurer.
 Helped establish the first
Athenian hospital
 Handsome, charming, friendly,
and well-educated
 Highly regarded in Athenian
Tragic Hero
 Character in a drama who is dignified or noble, yet
possesses a tragic flaw that brings about or
contributes to his or her downfall.
 Recognizes the flaw only after it is too late to change
the course of events.
 Examples of tragic flaws: poor judgment, pride,
 Oedipus is a tragic hero
The Legend of Oedipus:
Somebody Call CPS
Born to King Laius and Queen Jocasta of Thebes
 An oracle told Laius that a son born to him would kill him
 Laius ordered servant to pin baby’s feet together and leave
him to die on a mountain
 The servant pitied the infant and, instead, gave him to a
 The shepherd gave him to King Polybus and Queen Merope
of Corinth
 Oedipus means “swollen foot”
The Plot Thickens
 Oedipus learns from a drunken partier that his father
(Polybus) was not actually his father
 Oedipus goes to see the oracle at Delphi to find out the
truth about his parents.
 The oracle reveals a terrible prophecy:
 Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother.
I Know Something You Don’t Know
 Oedipus flees Corinth in an attempt to prevent the
prophecy from coming true
 On his way to Thebes, he runs into King Laius and
some servants at a crossroad (symbolic?)
 Remember, he does not know this is his dad (but we
do: dramatic irony)
 They get into an argument and Oedipus kills Laius
What’s That Egyptian Thing Have to Do With
 When Oedipus gets to Thebes, there is a monster (The
Sphinx) terrorizing the town
 The Sphinx has the face of a woman, the body of a lion,
and the wings of a bird.
 A riddle for you: “What is it that walks on four legs in
the morning, on two at midday, and on three in the
 It (she?) ate anyone who could not solve the riddle.
And the Answer is:
 Oedipus was a smart guy:
“Man, for he crawls as a baby, walks erect in maturity,
and uses a staff in old age.”
 With the riddle answered, the Sphinx destroyed itself,
and Thebes was freed from the terror
 Go Oedipus!
Now Presenting
 Oedipus is named the new king of Thebes (of
 AND he scores a new lady: the late King
Laius’ widow
 He rules Thebes for many years – he is a
good king.
 Prophecy, Prophecy, Prophecy
 Irony, Irony, Irony
Thebes in Trouble Again
 The Sphinx is dead, but now the city is dealing with a
terrible plague
 Some scholars believe that this drama may have first
been performed after Athens had suffered through a
terrible plague, which began in 430 B.C.
Things to Ponder as We Read
 Does Oedipus fit the definition of a tragic hero?
 How do
the words and actions of minor characters
help you understand the main characters?
 What strategies do you need to use in reading a play?
 Where do you see examples of dramatic irony?
 How does this add to the telling of the story?