DRM100Y1 Lecture Notes - Pentheus, Lysistrata, Laius
DepartmentCentre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies
6 principles in each play
PLOT arrangement of events, occurrences, adventures
When Lauis goes to the oracle and the oracle reveals to him that his child will kill him, have sex with his mom and
share his father’s bed. So Jocasta and Lauis send a messenger with baby Oed. to the mountains with his ankles tied
The rising action of Oedipus the King occurs when Creon returns from the oracle with the news that the plague in
Thebes will end when the murderer of Laius, the king before Oedipus, is discovered and driven out.
The climax of Oedipus the King occurs when Oedipus learns, quite contrary to his expectations, that he is the man
responsible for the plague that has stricken Thebes—he is the man who killed his father and slept with his mother.
In Oedipus the King, the consequences of Oedipus’s learning of his identity as the man who killed his father and
slept with his mother are the falling action. This discovery drives Jocasta to hang herself, Oedipus to poke out his own
eyes, and Creon to banish Oedipus from Thebes.
Dionysus the protagonist arrives in Thebes to demonstrate his divinity and punish the family of Cadmus. The King
of Thebes, Pentheus, is a violent opponent of Dionysian worship and rites.
Dionysus disguises himself as a Lydian bacchant, the Stranger, and along with his group of maenads, enters Thebes.
Pentheus orders soldiers to arrest him, Dionysus only too willingly allows himself to be taken. In three encounters
Dionysus talks, tricks, and converts Pentheus into becoming a voyeuristic transvestite who goes to watch the bacchic
Agave dismembers her own son Pentheus.
Agave takes her son's head back to Thebes still under the delusion that it is a lion's head. Cadmus finally makes her
see the truth.
The basic plot of Lysistrata is that the women barricade themselves in the acropolis and go on a sex strike to
persuade their husbands to stop the Peloponnesian War
CHARACTER individuality of the person, appearance, personal qualities
Oedipus - The protagonist. He is renowned for his intelligence and his ability to solve riddles—he saved the city of
Thebes and was made its king by solving the riddle of the Sphinx, the supernatural being that had held the city
captive. Yet Oedipus is stubbornly blind to the truth about himself. His name’s literal meaning (“swollen foot”) is the
clue to his identity—he was taken from the house of Laius as a baby and left in the mountains with his feet bound
together. On his way to Thebes, he killed his biological father, not knowing who he was, and proceeded to marry
Jocasta, his biological mother.
Chorus - Sometimes comically slow to understand or unpredictable, sometimes perceptive, sometimes
melodramatic (exaggerated) , the Chorus reacts to the events onstage. The Chorus’s reactions can be lessons in how
the audience should interpret what it is seeing, or how it should not interpret what it is seeing.
Tiresias - the blind soothsayer(prophet) of Thebes. Tiresias tells Oedipus that he is the murderer he hunts, and
Oedipus does not believe him.. The literal blindness of the soothsayer points to the metaphorical blindness of those
who refuse to believe the truth about themselves when they hear it spoken.
Creon - Oedipus’s brother-in-law. In him more than anyone else we see the gradual rise and fall of one man’s
power. Early in Oedipus the King, Creon claims to have no desire for kingship. Yet, when he has the opportunity to
grasp power at the end of that play, Creon seems quite eager.
Jocasta - Oedipus’s wife and mother, and Creon’s sister. Jocasta appears only in the final scenes of Oedipus the
King. In her first words, she attempts to make peace between Oedipus and Creon, pleading with Oedipus not to
banish Creon. She is comforting to her husband and calmly tries to urge him to reject Tiresias’s terrifying prophecies
as false. Jocasta solves the riddle of Oedipus’s identity before Oedipus does, and she expresses her love for her son
and husband in her desire to protect him from this knowledge. She commits suicide which could be shown as a sign of
weakness and embarrassment.
Dionysus - Originator, protagonist and central axis of The Bacchae, this god of wine, theater and group ecstasy
appears mostly in disguise as a beautiful, longhaired, wine-flushed Lydian, the Stranger. His non-human forms and
powers are also felt acutely(suddenly,severly) throughout the play and Dionysus the god is clearly different from
Dionysus in disguise, as the Stranger, and yet they are the same. Still, they exist in their different forms
simultaneously, so while the audience and the chorus hear the divine god give the command for the earthquake, the
Stranger is inside the palace torturing Pentheus. Dionysus is the son of Zeus and the mortal Semele, daughter of
Pentheus - Pentheus is the king of Thebes, son of Agaue, grandson of Cadmus and the first cousin of Dionysus.
Structurally Pentheus is Dionysus's foil, thus he is a preserver(cautious) of law and order, a military man, a stern
patriarch, and ultimately a doomed mortal. Pentheus is not merely a mirror or inverted double of Dionysus; he is
puritanical(determined) and obstinate(stubborn), but also curious and voyeuristic(nosy).
Agaue - Mother of Pentheus and daughter of Cadmus. Agaue is already one of the maenads (a worshipper of
Dionysus participating in orgiastic rites, from the Greek mainad to be mad) at the start of the play. Even though she
only enters the play at the very end, her scene is the most powerful and tragic in the play.
Cadmus - Former king of Thebes, father of Agaue and Semele, grandfather of Pentheus and Dionysus. Cadmus is
the only one in his family to declare allegiance to Dionysus.
Chorus - Female bacchants from Lydia, led by Dionysus in his human form as the Stranger.
Tiresias - A famous Theban seer and friend of Cadmus. Tiresias persuades Cadmus to worship Dionysus.
Lysistrata is an Athenian woman who is sick and tired of war and the treatment of women in Athens. Lysistrata
gathers the women of Sparta and Athens together to solve these social ills and finds success and power in her quest.
Lysistrata is the least feminine of the women from either Athens or Sparta, and her masculinity helps her gain respect
among the men.
Myrrhine - If rank were imposed, Myrrhine would be the second strongest woman. Myrrhine is able to seduce her
husband, Kinesias, but she refuses sex with him just at the last minute.
Kinesias - The needy, desperate clown that Myrrhine calls her husband. Kinesias is the first man to be affected by
the sex strike and comes to the Akropolis, fully enflamed.
Peace - Lysistrata's handmaid. Peace is the unclothed beauty of a woman whom Lysistrata displays and uses during
her final plea for peace between Athens and Sparta. Terribly aroused and uncomfortable, the men quickly discuss the
terms of a truce, all the while staring at Peace's body
Commissioner of Public Safety - The Commissioner of Public Safety is apparently the head of security and law in
Athens, but is completely overwhelmed by the women and ends up being dressed as a woman himself. Lysistrata has
a lengthy conversation with the Commissioner about the future of Athens and peace in the region, but the
Commissioner is very slow to understand her logic
Chorus of Old Men - The Chorus of Old Men live up to their title; the chorus is made up of twelve old men who
teeter around Athens attempting to keep the women in line. Although, unsuccessful in their civic duties, the Chorus of
Old Men strike up some fantastical misogynistic melodies and are a generally comedic element of the play.
Chorus of Old Women - The Chorus of Old Women seizes and then protects the Akropolis from the Chorus of Old
Men. The Chorus of Old Women, although frail, fights to the last with the men and finds victory in the end.
THOUGHT (ideas)one of the causes of actions, the thought that leads to your actions and being what creates
- there was a plague(disease) going on and he wanted to save his city. He wanted to find Lauis killer.
-dio wants his revenge against how they treated his mother, the lies they said, and wanted Pentheus the one who
denies him a god. And wants revenge on Hera.
- sex strike because the women want the war to end and their men to come home
DICTION (language) the use of words, metaphors, similes, do the characters have accents, how do they
talk or explain things
OEDTiresias says wise words and speaks words of wisdom
he explains this clearly and effectively. He tries to explain the truth w.o revealing it completely to Oed.
BACCHAE Dio speaks like he knows what he is doing. When he speaks it’s almost as if you have to read in between
the lines of what he says in order to know what he really means. EX: when he speaks of Pen death.
LYS She speaks with confident and very masculine, it says that she is a tough and manly character. She doesn’t fear
going against the men and she is a leader who takes charge.
SPECTACLE use of set, costume, masks, illusion, elements, dancing, magic etc
OED uses Jocasta’s broche(piece of accessory) to gauche out his eyes
BACCAHAE both Agave and Pen have delusion scenes and phases
-Pen sees 2 suns and thinks he is tying up Dio wen really he’s typing up a bull
-Agave sees a lion’s head on the poll when really it’s her son’s head
Worshippers of Dio wear Dionayic costumes (Tiresias amd Cadmus wear it)
Worshippers of Dio dance and sing for him as a way of worshipping
Dio is lifted away in the end and worshipped
LYS doesn’t use any costume at the end as she brings out Peace (reconciliation) naked and the men go crazy when
they see Peace naked
since men are the actors it is necessary that the men use masks and clothing to make themselves of the
appearance of a woman
ROMAN COMEDY they use wigs and clothing to rep moods, social status, genders etc
-Purple roberich person -tassela god red wigold man
-Yellow robegirl -scarfservant