Aristotle & Greek Tragedy. Aristotle (384-322 BCE) Great thinker, teacher, and writer of the ancient world Studied at Plato’s Academy for about 20 years.

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  • Slide 1
  • Aristotle & Greek Tragedy
  • Slide 2
  • Aristotle (384-322 BCE) Great thinker, teacher, and writer of the ancient world Studied at Platos Academy for about 20 years Wrote/lectured on logic, science, metaphysics, ethics, politics, literature 350 BCE wrote Poetics, in part as an answer to Platos Republic (Plato believed drama encouraged people to wallow in emotion and endangered rationality and intellect; Aristotle strongly disagreed!)
  • Slide 3
  • What is drama? From the Greek word dran (to do) drama is an imitation of action First, the instinct of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated. We have evidence of this in the facts of experience. Objects which in themselves we view with pain, we delight to contemplate when reproduced with minute fidelity. [Poetics, Chapter lV]
  • Slide 4
  • What is tragedy? From the Greek word tragoidia (song of goats) originally referring to ritual sacrifice, as to Dionysus, god of fertility when things went wrong, there was a pharmakos, or scapegoat tragic plays replicated the idea of sacrifice for the good of a community According to Aristotle, a tragedy was a poetic form in which an imitation of action evoked pity and fear in the audience, leading to an emotional catharsis (purification, cleansing). (The audience shared in the heros suffering, or pathos.)
  • Slide 5
  • Tragic elements According to Aristotle, a tragedy consisted of six elements: Plot Plot Character Character Thought(the idea or theme) Thought(the idea or theme) Diction(the language) Diction(the language) Music(rhythm and sound of the play) Music(rhythm and sound of the play) Spectacle(costume, scenery, gestures, voice) Spectacle(costume, scenery, gestures, voice)
  • Slide 6
  • The tragic hero According to Aristotle, a tragic hero demonstrates: Nobleness or wisdom by virtue of birth Nobleness or wisdom by virtue of birth Hamartia, anagnorisis, and peripeteia Hamartia, anagnorisis, and peripeteia Other common qualities: High social status (a king or leader, whose people suffer with him) High social status (a king or leader, whose people suffer with him) Subject to fate, but experiences that fate through his own actions Subject to fate, but experiences that fate through his own actions Emotional wound often paralleled by a physical wound or death Emotional wound often paralleled by a physical wound or death
  • Slide 7
  • The tragic form hamartia: an error on the part of the hero can translate to missing the mark can translate to missing the mark can be regarded as a mistake, a sin, a trespass can be regarded as a mistake, a sin, a trespass often described as the result of an excess in behavior (i.e. hubris) or, in other words, a tragic flaw in character often described as the result of an excess in behavior (i.e. hubris) or, in other words, a tragic flaw in character peripeteia: reversal of fortune Aristotle explained that the reversal could be from bad to good fortune, or good to bad fortune, but he said the latter form was superior. Aristotle explained that the reversal could be from bad to good fortune, or good to bad fortune, but he said the latter form was superior. Leads to a complication of events that must later be resolved Leads to a complication of events that must later be resolved
  • Slide 8
  • The tragic form, cont. anagnorisis: recognition of truth on the part of the hero often a truth about identity often a truth about identity the hero can no longer ignore this truth, and he or she may feel incapable of living with it the hero can no longer ignore this truth, and he or she may feel incapable of living with it May produce love or hate between key characters May produce love or hate between key characters catharsis: purging of pity and fear the positive social function of tragedy, according to Aristotle the positive social function of tragedy, according to Aristotle an emotional lesson: perhaps the audience can avoid the tragic error, and help others to avoid it an emotional lesson: perhaps the audience can avoid the tragic error, and help others to avoid it
  • Slide 9
  • orchestra: circular dancing place for chorus theatron : seeing place parodos: aisle for chorus access proskenion: small platform for elevation of actors skene: building providing backdrop and backstage
  • Slide 10
  • A mask was called a persona. The mask served both as a megaphone and as a symbol to distinguish the role.
  • Slide 11
  • Dramatic Structure Prologue (plural: prologos) Opening portion of the play Opening portion of the play Sets the scene and contains the exposition Sets the scene and contains the exposition Parode (plural: parodos) Entrance song of the chorus Entrance song of the chorus
  • Slide 12
  • Dramatic Structure Episode Scene in the action of the drama Scene in the action of the drama Performed by the actors, not the chorus Performed by the actors, not the chorus Alternate with the stasima Alternate with the stasima Within a scene, there may be a kommos, a lamentation between actor and chorus Within a scene, there may be a kommos, a lamentation between actor and chorus Stasimon (plural: stasima) Choral passage, sometimes referred to as odes Choral passage, sometimes referred to as odes Type of lyric poem, using dignified diction Type of lyric poem, using dignified diction May consist of strophes (as the chorus chanted and danced in one direction) and antistrophes (dancing in the opposite direction) May consist of strophes (as the chorus chanted and danced in one direction) and antistrophes (dancing in the opposite direction) May have been accompanied by flute and/or percussion May have been accompanied by flute and/or percussion
  • Slide 13
  • Dramatic Structure Exode (plural: exodos) Concluding section of the tragedy Concluding section of the tragedy Ends with the chorus singing their final lines as they exit. Ends with the chorus singing their final lines as they exit.

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