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Lecture

Ancient Greek Culture


Department
English
Course Code
ENGL 103W
Professor
Torsten Kehler

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English 103 Sept. 12, 2011
Ancient Greek Culture
Ancient Greek culture served as a beginning for numerous things we use today, such as democracy
(demos) and theatre (theria=spectate, see a spectacle).
Greek city-states constantly squabbled with one another. Ancient Greece was not a rich country in
terms of resources, its climate was hot and dry, and people led a tough life. City-states developed a
governing system based on agon (competition). Ex: word antagonist. Their politics were conceived of
people debating with one another. Debate is something done only when it matters. It occurs only when
the leadership allows it. Ancient Greece took politics seriously because it changed things. They only
argued and debated only when it really mattered, when important things depended on it. This created
the basis of Democracy.
Greek city-states had competition at the heart of their matter (olympics). Also had theatre competitions,
crowned the best playwrights.
+In the Elizaethan era, the audience said ''hear a play'' not ''see a play''.+
Drama=comes from a greek word for doing something. Spectators' doing is seeing, actors' doing is
putting on a play. Drama is done through more that words, it's also done through movement, gesture,
motion, and portrayal of activity through movement, gesture and motion.
+Original word for Opera is Drama per opera, or drama via music.+
Drama is a combination of something normally called literature, and something more symbolic, almost
like opera.
The stage in drama is used to separate the audience from what goes on. There was an attempt to break
the boundary between audience and the play (Bard on the beach).
Play=refers to one of the events of drama. Comes from Latin ludus (game, to play). The notion of play-
acting. It is not real, just for fun, pretended. Important to distinguish between what's happening on
stage and what's real.
Hypocrite=someone who wants certain certain standards to apply to everyone but himself.
Original ancient Greek definition=ACTOR. Connection to pretence and play.
Actor =persona
=character
=the actor is not the character they play. The actor is transformed by the act of putting on a play
into something he or she isn't.
Aeschylus is considered the first Greek tragic playwright, he was the oldest. Sophocles came next.
Then Euripides. Each of them introduced something new to theatre, but not necessarily influenced each
other.
In the Northern Renaissance (1500-1600), there were many writers (ex: Shakespeare) who wanted to
re-buy Greek literature, but had access to very very little. Most of their knowledge came from Seneca
(very bloody, gruesome).
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