NOTES - Crestwood Local Schools
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Athens, Sophocles, and the Greek Theater
Athens of Classical Greece I. Brief Historic Overview A. Self-governing city-state (polis) B. During the 5th Century B.C., Athens was the richest and most advanced of all citystates C. Great wealth led to the support and promotion of arts and entertainment, especially the Festival of Dionysus, where Sophocles produced his tragedies
Athens of Classical Greece D.
Lack of farmland led to frequent battles with neighboring citystates; by end of 5th century B.C., Sparta had starved Athens into submission and Athenian Power ended.
II. Importance and Emphasis of the Arts A. Public Unity The theatrical experience was an all encompassing public experience. Attending the theater was social, political, and religious.
II. Importance and Emphasis of the Arts A. Public Unity (Cont’d) - Ancient Greek myth—the
theme of most dramatic tragedies—touched the individual and the universal heart and drew the audience together, especially in times of hardship.
II. Importance and Emphasis of the Arts B. Sacred Art Dramatic tradition began as choral performance celebrations to Dionysus (Roman god Bacchus), god of wine, pleasure, and fertility
II. Importance and Emphasis of the Arts C. Civic Duty - Because the Festival of Dionysus served as a ritual to honor the god, attending the theater was a religious duty and
responsibility of all pious citizens.
Sophocles (496-406 B.C.) Although information about the Greek playwright Sophocles is vague and incomplete, there are some important details about his life that remain. He is considered one of the most influential writers upon Western culture and one of the most tragic playwrights of all time. Sophocles lived during the Classical Period (500 to 400 B.C.), a time of important transition for Greece, when political and cultural events were changing and shaping the Athenian culture.
Sophocles (496-406 B.C.) I. Early Years and Education A. Birth - Born about 496 B.C. at Colonus near Athens, Greece. B. Family - His father was a wealthy weapons-maker and a leading citizen, which prepared the way for Sophocles to play an important role in Athenian society.
Sophocles (496-406 B.C.) I. Early Years and Education C. Education Sophocles studied poetry, music, dancing, and gymnastics-all of which were considered to form a well-rounded education for citizens.
Sophocles (496-406 B.C.) I. Early Years and Education D. Awards - By age 15, he won the honor of leading the boys' chorus in the victory paean celebrating the Athenian naval victory over the Persians at Salamis in 480.
Sophocles (496-406 B.C.) I. Early Years and Education E. Influences - Sophocles read and studied the ancient traditions and first epic poetry of Greece, written by Homer.
F. Teacher - Studied under the Greek playwright Aeschylus
Sophocles (496-406 B.C.) II. Adult Years and Public Service A. Served as a diplomat, a general, and as a priest of Alscepius, a minor god of healing.
C. Won first prize for dramatic writing at the Festival of Dionysus 18 times
B. In 443 B.C., the great Athenian leader Pericles chose Sophocles to be treasurer of the Delian Confederation.
Sophocles (496-406 B.C.) III. Contributions to Literature and Drama A. Wrote over 120 plays B. Credited for pioneering the use of on-stage scene paintings
Sophocles (496-406 B.C.) III. Contributions to Literature and Drama C. Created more complexity in drama by adding a third actor to the traditional pair; increased the Greek chorus from twelve to fifteen, and began to integrate chorus into the action.
Sophocles (496-406 B.C.) III. Contributions to Literature and Drama D. Aristotle, Greek philosopher, said, “The purpose of tragedy is to arouse pity and fear in the audience, and so create a catharsis, or cleansing of emotions—that will enlighten people about life and fate.” Sophocles' entire Oedipus Trilogy achieves catharsis! E. Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King) (430 B.C.) is regarded as his masterpiece.
The Greek Theater I. History A. Began when writer Thespis separated one man from the chorus and gave individual lines to speak B. In 534 B.C., Thespis produced the first tragedy at the Festival of Dinoysus
A. Theater: Actors performed in an open-air theater with audiences of up to 15,000!
The Greek Theater II. Performance
B. Staqe: Bare floor with wooden skene behind it
The Greek Theater II. Performance
C. Costume: Actors wore long robes with masks that depicted their characters; they also often wore cothurni, platformed shoes, to give the illusion of great height when playing the parts of gods, goddesses, and mythical heroes.
The Greek Theater II. Performance ISMENE: And what life is dear to me, bereft of thee? ANTIGONE: Ask Creon; all thy care is for him. ISMENE: Why vex me thus, when it avails thee nought? ANTIGONE: Indeed, if I mock, 'tis with pain that I mock thee. ISMENE: Tell me,—how can I serve thee, even now? ANTIGONE: Save thyself: I grudge not thy escape. ISMENE: Ah, woe is me! And shall I have no share in thy fate?
D. Declamatory script: Because over-sized costumes made movement difficult, the script relied heavily upon the actor's dramatic delivery of lines, which is seen in lengthy monologues and stichomythic dialogue between two debating characters.
The Structure of the Greek Drama
Historians believe that the structure of the Greek tragedy influenced the eventual division of a play into acts and scenes. Given the study of Greek and Roman manuscripts, it is reasonable to assume that this is true.
The Structure of the Greek Drama The Greek tragedy is divided into five distinct sections:
1. The Prologos (Prologue) - The opening portion of the play, which sets the scene and contains the exposition (introduces the theme and main characters) 2. The Parados - The entrance song of the chorus, named after the broad aisles on either side of the theater and in front of the orchestra along which the chorus entered or exited. 3. The Episodes (Scenes) The scenes in the action of the drama performed by the actors. The episodes alternate with and are distinguished from the stasimons, which are performed by the chorus.
The Structure of the Greek Drama 4. The Stasimons (Odes)- A choral passage (ode) alternating with the episodes of the plot. The odes (lyrical poems) use exalted and dignified language created for the choral passages. The chorus often sang and danced the tragic odes, accompanied by musical instruments (usually flute and harp). The tragic ode consisted of strophes and antistrophes, essentially stanzas of the poems.
5. Exodos (Epilogue) - The concluding section of the tragedy. The exodus ends with the chorus singing their final lines as they exit.
The Structure of the Greek Drama The Chorus The chorus of the Greek tragedy served several purposes: 1.Created odes, which contained music and dancing
2.Introduced and questioned new characters 3. Pointed out significant events 4. Established facts 5. Affirmed society's outlook and expressed societal attitude toward developments in the story
6. Covered passages of time between events 7. Separated the Scenes (Episodes)
ASSIGNMENT – DUE WEDS., 11/2 Create a collage, Voice Thread, Prezi, video, or PowerPoint describing your “life’s quest” and addressing the following: Who are you? Where do you come from? What makes YOU you? What is your purpose in life? Where do you hope to go in life? What is your goal? What are some of the potential roadblocks or dangers to getting there? What universal question(s) are you seeking to answer at this point in life? Include photos, clip art, objects, etc. that help represent who you are and your life’s quest.
How to Begin… You might consider beginning your “quest” by writing a “Where I’m From” poem, or revisiting this poem if you wrote one earlier in high school. After visiting where you are from (Who Am I?), you might consider a similar poem/template for where you are going (What is my quest?) A template and a link to examples, follows.
Where I'm From Poem Template (For samples, see: http://www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html)
I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______. I am from the _______ (home description... adjective, adjective, sensory detail). I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)
I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name). I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one). From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another). I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description. I'm from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family). From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member). I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).
Where I’m Going Poem Template My quest is _____ (an accomplishment you hope to achieve) because I believe in _____ (name a value you hold). My dream is_____(name another hope you have) because I believe _t ___ (name another value). I wish for _____ I hope for _____ I am going to _____ (repeat one of the accomplishment you hope to achieve, or list a new one) because _____
Cadmus Polydorus Labdacus Laius & Jocasta Oedipus
Polybus & Merope [Oedipus]