polisci - Lecture Outline for Aeschylus and The Oresteia I...

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Lecture Outline for Aeschylus and The Oresteia I. Introduction to Tragedy i. Large open air structure, large semi-circular bowl. ii. City of Dionysus takes place as a festival attended by 15-18,000 people both in Athens and all over the Greek world. iii. All normal activity stops during performance iv. Orchestra- place where chorus sang and danced v. Chorus- mediating device between audience and actors a. Very often, the chorus represents the community. vi. Satyr- mythological creatures/comedies vii. Operated and funded by the city, the polus. It provided wealthy citizens an opportunity to contribute to civic life because they could underwrite the expense of the plays. a. The wealthy citizens of Athens had two choices of what they wanted to give to the polis- fund a warship and crew or playwright and presentation at the festival. viii. Greek tragic poetry and presentation begin sometime during the 6 th century BCE, but they seem to have flourished in the late 6 th and early 5 th century BCE during the period of Athenian democracy. ix. Greek tragedy is intimately related to Greek politics. a. Because of the relationship bt the patron or the citizenship of patron and the plays, the festivals were great celebration- celebration of the glory of Greece in general or of Athens specifically. b. Surprisingly, the dramas at the festival were not always and just involved in the proclamation or glory of Athens. The plays are very often very critical, critical of the behavior in the city, the ideology the values. One of the major functions of Greek tragedy is this critical self-examination creating a kind of public debate about the nature of society, the nature of politics, the nature of human beings. The plays themselves represent a kind of foundation of Athenian democracy. c. Very often the Greek Tragedies are expressions of fundamental debates going on in greek society. Debates about critical questions: i. Are the gods being just? (The gods are equally involved in human life.) ii. Are human beings being just? What do we mean when we speak of justice? iii. Is Greece, the society, being just? Is it just to conduct a 10-year long war over an insult? a. What is the role of the gods in that justice?
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b. What is the role of human beings? B. Place of Women in Society i. Role of women was not very important. ii. The place of women in society is being debated here. C. Freedom and Fate i. Necessity, most commonly put in the relationship between freedom and fate. ii.What is freedom? What is its relationship to the actions of the gods, what we call fate? D. War and Violence i. Justification for war a. the need for war; the relationship between the human psyche and war. E. Hubris (Pride)
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polisci - Lecture Outline for Aeschylus and The Oresteia I...

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