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  • English 221 Dr. Carsley

  • Unbearable knowledge Evil that has no rational explanation Double determination (fate and free will

    at the same time): The gods arranged my destiny, but the hand that plucked my eyes were mine alone!

  • Originated about 3000 years ago and had to do with the worship of the god Dionysus (god of wine and male fertility).

    Fifty Greek men (the chorus) would perform hymns to the god in rhythmic poetry.

    End with a ritual sacrifice of a goat (tragos), while (komos) was the word for festival.

    After the performance and sacrifice, there would be an invitation for a union of the sexes (gamos) and thats why our word comedy meant marriage or union, and why most comedies end with a couple and a kiss.

  • Around 600 BC Greek drama changed from the tribal festival to a more civilized contest.

    Gather around the orchestra (circular dancing place) and sit on the seats in the theatron (seeing place).

    In 535 BC a writer named Thespis won the contest by separating one person from the chorus and having him engage in dialogue with the chorus.

    Invention of drama live action conveyed by dialogue -- birth of the first thespian

  • Three great tragic playwrights lived between 500-400 BC Aeschylus The Libation Bearers Sophocles Oedipus The King / Antigone Euripides Electra / Medea

    One great comic playwright Aristophanes The Frogs

    First literary critic, Aristotle - Poetics

  • Goal of drama = mimesis or imitation of human activity

    Tragedy = imitation of an action that is serious. . . . arousing fear and pity to accomplish a catharsis of such emotions.

    Catharsis = a purging of emotions or perhaps a transformation of emotions

    Like the sacrificial goal, tragic hero is just a stand in (scapegoat) for our catharsis.

  • Aristotle invented the way we talk about theater. He used the following terms: Plot (has a beginning, middle and an end) Reversal (of fortunes for the hero) Climax (moment of greatest tension) Recognition (also called discovery) Character Protagonist first speaker + agon = debate Antagonist one who speaks against

  • Poet? Spectators? Society? Personality of a dramatic character?

    (older male citizens of the city of Thebes)

  • To miss the mark to make an error, initially by hitting the wrong target with an arrow

    Sometimes mis- translated as tragic flaw Does it have a moral valence? Unclear Does the tragic hero initiates his own downfall

    because he is somehow a sinner OR because he is so excellent that he can take on the consequences.

    Johnston His error is inextricably tied up with his human greatness.

    Ian Johnston http://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/introser/oedipus.htm

  • The Sphinx's riddle The riddle of who killed Laius The riddle of his own birth What characteristics to riddle-solvers

    have? Are these helpful?

  • Oedipus == swollen foot == cast out at birth because prophesy to kill father

    Sophocles also puns on the Greek form of Oedipus' name, Oidipous. The verb oida means "I know" or "I see,"

    while dipous means "two-footed. The themes of knowledge and feet are

    brought together in his name two-footed means man and is referencing his solving of the riddle of the Sphinx and, of course, the general human condition.

  • Examples: Lines 248-261, 266-286: Oedipus' exhortation to

    the citizens of Thebes, and oath. Lines 616-617: Oedipus' reproach of Creon. Lines 778-800: Jocasta intervenes to calm Oedipus'

    consternation over Tiresias' prophecy. (What's her conclusion about Tiresias' prophecy?

    What purpose does dramatic irony serve? Spurs audience thoughts and feelings These feelings are articulated by the chorus


  • You must achieve time and kleos by embracing your destiny (Iliad)

    Time and kleos arent all that they are cracked up to be. . . Perhaps your destiny might be achieved in another way (Odyssey)

    Time and kleos are fleeting; ultimate destiny of humanity is grief in an irrational world (Oedipus)

  • What scene in the play dont we see? Why does Oedipus keep trying to find

    out his parentage, even when he suspects the worst?

    What is the role of the children at the end