Notes part 2 - 2/20/08 The Athenian Theater: Sophocles'...

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2/20/08 The Athenian Theater: Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus Purpose of Assignment 1. Annual dramatic festival = major civic event in Athens 2. Drama invented by Athens – city’s greatest cultural contribution 3. Athens uses theater to examine its own issues a. Jonathan Shay’s theory about war veterans i. Not a scholar, clinical psychiatrist ii. Vietnam war veterans who were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Also studies ancient Greece as a hobby. Found both to be somewhat related. 4. Oedipus is the “classic” tragedy 5. Oedipus may be seen as allegory about 5 th century Athens Origin of Tragedy - Choral poetry existed first o Song and Dance at religious festivals o Honored the god Dionysus Sex, delivery, ect. - Someone (Thespis?) introduced first actor/playwright - Chorus gradually deemphasized; eliminated in Roman drama - Overtime, a second and third actor were added - Etymology of “tragedy” = “goat song” Vase Image: A Female Chorus The Festival - Called “City Dionysia” or “Great Dionysia” - Springtime- late March or early April - Procession of citizens o Carry Dionysus’ statue form Acropolis to theater (front row seated for the god) o Sacrifice a bull o Hereoes and public servants honored - Each year, three playwrights chosen to produce their plays. Big Honor. o Performed on three consecutive days o Each playwright produces 4 plays- long day Min. 8 hours - It’s a competition - Very expensive (train choruses, pay actors, make costumes and masks) o A private citizen chosen to finance it Performance - Only men performed- even female roles - With only 3 actors, each person had multiple roles
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o Obvious limitations (Oed, priest, Teiresias, Creon, ocasta, messenger, Shepard) - Actors wore masks (no facial expressions) - “Stylized” acting – broad and simple gestures; actors spoke in declamatory way Theater of Dionysus Audience - theater held about 15,000 people o population 250,000 people o 30,000 citizens - Foreign dignitaries (Athens shows off) - Big question: could women attend o Anecdote about furies and women - A big percentage of people would attend Aristotle’s theory of tragedy - Caveat - Mimesis = imitation (many levels) o Reinforces Dionysus connection and masks - Focuses on great people - Tragic “fall” – brought about through a “tragic flaw” e.g. hubris (arrogance) - Creates fear and pity, which produces katharsis (emotional purging) Overview of the Oedipus Myth - Oedipus is from Thebes - Parents, Jocasta and Laius, expose him - Shepherd spares Oedipus; he’s reaised in Corinth - In Corinth, Oedipus hears same prophecy and flees - Kills dad en route - Arrives in Thebes, kills sphinx, becomes new king, marries Jocasta, procreates A note about Fate - How is it Oedipus’ fault? Fate
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Notes part 2 - 2/20/08 The Athenian Theater: Sophocles'...

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