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Lecture 8

CLA160 Lecture 8 Notes

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Johnathon Burgess

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CLA160 Lecture 8 Notes Greek Drama - spoken poetry, with choral song and dance - chorus is the “heart and soul” of ancient drama - origin – late Archaic Age – 6 century B.C. - tragedy – serious and with much solemnity - invention of ancient drama – very important • cities/villages/areas had public theatre • became very famous Significance of Drama in Greek Culture - actors on stage tell a story with their voice - drama is not just entertainment – not only spectacle - spectacle not always separate from everyday lives – social and political issues are indirectly addressed - sometimes meant to elicit laughter – but linked with contemporary world – send a message to ancient audience – for example to poke fun of the respected leaders in a mild way while speaking of an underlying issue - remark/raise issue relevant to that age – provide perspective - drama took place in two different time zones – the literal setting of the drama, but also in a more contemporary time zone - even epics and tragedies, while often set in the distant past, or have completely made up settings – remark on contemporary culture and exist in this time zone - drama reflects and comments on contemporary issues - example of how Antigone comments of contemporary time zone and its issues – perhaps some plays are a reflection of certain issues - example of role reversal in drama – Orpheus in the desert and blind, is guided by his daughter – idea that this is backwards; women are doing work and providing for the family, guiding the father who does nothing, and the husbands sit around the house – perhaps a reflection of Herodotus’ excerpt from Histories about the backwards ways of the Egyptians – it is theorized that Sophocles was influenced by this - drama is a Greek invention - many aspects of Greek culture that have been passed down or been characterized as Greek actually came from the Near East - however – Greeks invented many things that eventually became famous and cherished, even today – drama, history, democracy, etc. Ancient Drama - comparison between ancient drama and modern drama – in ancient world – drama is a form of poetry – keeps accordance with meter - actors on stage tell a story though conversation - no narration at this point - later in comedy, an actor directly addresses the audience at the beginning – but not very common occurrence - at times – “deux ex machina” – sudden plot ending in play – an actor, as a god, would be hoisted above the stage on a crane and speak to the audience – epilogue of sorts in which the ‘god’ would tell the audience what happens after the point in which the acting stops Origin of Drama th - occurred in 6 century B.C. - in Homeric epics, the story often depended on characters telling their own stories without a narrator - not entirely clear when drama first began – earliest surviving works are from the 5 century B.C. - development helped along by Pisistratus – key in patronizing ancient drama - arts supported by the government – interaction of society and culture - state sponsored drama - chorus is emphasized – developed first, and drama created out of it - perhaps lyric poetry and the chorus that was often employed – poetry composed for chorus – short poem to be performed by a group together – song and dance - evolved into drama – poetry for Greek festivals and literature - chorus can tell story with song and dance – individuals then separate themselves to tell their story - chorus did not properly develop plot – commented on plot – with drama, there was a squeezing out of choral importance over time - dramatic performances – context – performers compete with one another Major Athenian Dramatists - Aeschylus - Sophocles - Euripides th - all three were 5 century B.C. poets/dramatists - must distinguish between types of drama - drama – “things being performed” - types of drama • tragedy  heroic age  becomes especially famous • comedy  two different develthments ithcomedy  “old comedy” – 5 and 4 centuries B.C. – Aristophanes  “new comedy” – later part of the 4 thcentury B.C. – Roman comedy  old comedy was usually about contemporary events – real people of contemporary world – satirize and make fun of leaders, famous public figures • satyr play  sort of in between tragedy and comedy  has both comic and tragic elements  satyrs are the chorus in every satyr play  satyr – rambunctious, burlesque figures – humorous characteristics  not fully human qualities – bottom half of a goat or a pig – have tails and are sometimes depicted as having horns  satyrs worshipped the god Dionysus – loved drinking wine and being drunk – rowdy figures, often bawdy at times  satyr plays were often tragedies with humour added in between by the presence of satyrs Aeschylus - prominent in early-mid 5 century B.C. - in this time, playwrights were asked to compose and produce three tragedies at one time - in beginning – they were written as three different chapters of the same story - later on, they became three different topics, performed one after the other - wrote the Oresteia trilogy – performed together, each chapter one after the other The Oresteia - featured Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and Orestes – the house of Atreus - story takes place after the Trojan War - Agamemnon returns home with concubine Cassandra – princess/prophetess of Troy - wife Clytemnestra had an affair while he was away – she and her lover kill Agamemnon and Cassandra - son Orestes plots revenge
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