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Lecture 6

CLA201H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Lenaia, Euripides, Anthropocentrism

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Jody Cundy

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Euripides - Heracles
- Drama developed out of ritual in a time when most Greek societies underwent a transition
from a dominant rural aristocratic society to a dominant urban democratic social
formation, and traditional pieties began to be replaced with a civic ideology suited to the
new social structure marriage (Alcestis) not remarrying, social and familial structure
when you lose people
- Contradiction from different version tells us something about the nature of humanity/to
be a hero, relationship between humans and the environment/humans and the gods?
o Heracles as a story of collective importance oral tradition, different variations
o Heracles and PTSD
- Lenaea: festival for comedy
- City Dionysia theatre of Dionysus on the Acropolis, all tragedies were performed.
Every year 3 tragedians, 3 tragedies & 1 satyr play, 1 day of comedies (contest). Plays
are written for a ritual context (religious)
- Orchestra: Round space for Chorus between audience and stage
- Choreizein means to dance
- Tragic plays have two modes
o Episodes forward movement of the plot, dialogue, longer speeches
o Choral odes musical intermission/interlude between the episodes. Usually have
meaning how we can interpret the action, include important themes, problems
are more manifest, comparisons from other plays. Usually made up of old men
not heroes
- Scene is normally a house and action takes place off stage (narrated afterwards)
- Production costs for the festivals were paid by wealthy citizens liturgies: taxes that the
rich paid to support the democracy, one of the democracy is for putting on tragedies
Origins of Tragedy
- Based on Aristotle: tragedy evolved from the Dithyramb (groups of men who sing songs)
as a ritual celebration of Dionysus
- Anthropological evidence: religious mystery performance. Ex: Demeter’s story
- Internal evidence: laments, grew out of cult of the dead from the play itself
- Tragos (he-goat) and oidos (song) goat skin cup/bowl to hold wine
- Tragedians committed to the spirit of Dionysus (tragic suffering, death, resurrection and
ascension to heaven) rather than narratives about Dionysus
- Pathei mathein learning through suffering
- Anagnorisis Aha! Moment
- Peripeteia reversal (from good to bad) nature of a human beings because we don’t
control our fates
- Catharsis purification
Tragic Vision
- Apollo vs Dionysus: god of doing the right thing vs god of wine (negative connotations)
- Tragic hero
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