CLASSICS 143A MIDTERM STUDYGUIDE
Week 0 Lecture 1
o From the Greek verb, translates “to imitate.” This means than there is actual imitation and representation
in a play, as oppose to a narrator simply providing information about a setting that is not physically being
o From the Greek verb, “to watch or observe.” The physical area where plays were held. In the simplest
form, it was just a sunken area next to a hillside for an audience to sit elevated.
o Translates to “pre competition” and refers to the period before the Dionysia Festival. Actors and playwrite
giving the audience information, typically the day before the performance. This was all held before the
Dionysos Eleuthereus was brought out from its shrine to the theater walls.
o Translates to “chorus bringer” but the role is essentially the producer of the entire event. They recruit
members of the chorus, find a trainer, find practice space, provide costumes and props, and oversee the
production. The archon basileus was in charge of finding three tragic choregoi and five comic choregoi.
Although it cost money to do, wealthy individuals saw the choregos position as an honor and public duty.
There is evidence from vase painting showing choregoi actually in play performances. They received
more recognition and fame than the playwrites.
Week 1 Lecture 1
o Translates to “watch or observe” and an “area for viewers.” The simplest theater was a hillside where an
audience sat elevated from where the play was held.
o Comes from the Greek verb “to dance.” Translates to a place to dance, or more generally for plays,
o Entrances and exits to and from the performing area
o A booth or tent that was located behind the orchestra (back of the stage location). It provided actors with
a third entrance, a place to change costumes, and also a place for off-screen murders to take place. It
was introduced with the performance of Agamemnon in 458 BC (mid 5th century). It also could be used to
create a setting, since the skene could represent a house, temple, etc. Sophocles later enhanced the
skene by painting it (skenographia) to further enrich settings.
o Comes from theos and logeion; literally, the place where gods speak. Could have been either the roof of
the skene or designated logeion.
o A low platform located between the orchestra and skene; literally, the place where people speak. It was
strictly reserved for actors (no chorus).
o Comes from the Greek verb to “roll or wheel” out. It was a device with wheels that would emerge from the
skene doors to show the audience an “inside scene.” It was also used to show the bodies of those killed
inside the skene. Euripides is known for his bountiful use of it, e.g. Herakles
o Also the word “geranos” which means machine or crane. It was a device with beams and pulleys that
allowed actors to appear as if they were hovering or flying through the air. Could be used to denote god
characters, e.g. Andromache and Medea.
o The first actor (most experienced with the most complex roles)
o The second actor Tritagonistes
o The third actor
o Translates to “silent faces” which denotes actors that would appear on stage but would never speak. An
example would be the jury members in Eumenides. Guardians and children are commonly used as well.
o Word used by Aristotle to convey the “serious” quality and generic nature of tragedy. This is
demonstrated by the rich costumes used in tragedy, which show the audience how “serious” of a
performance it is.
o Word used by Aristotle to convey the “laughable” quality and generic nature of comedy. Similar to tragedy,
costumes are used to convey this inherent quality of the genre to the audience. Comic costumes often
included grotesque masks with distorted features, padded clothing exaggerate body parts, and dangling
phalluses. The last is a reference to the phallophorai procession during the Dionysos festival
Week 1 Lecture 2
o A choral song performed in honor of Dionysos. They were performed at the City Dionysia in the 5th
century. Evidence shows they were in fact dedicated to Dionysos and competitions were held for singing
o Purification of pity and fear and also the draining of excess emotion. The latter is the livelier and more
entertaining to watch. This compliments the point of tragedy since the actions are suppose to also create
a serious emotional response in the audience.
o Literally means pity. Aristotle states that tragedy is a representation of a serious action not through
narration but pity and fear in order to achieve catharsis.
o Literally means fear. See previous answer.
o Literally means “entrance” or “side entrance.” Also denotes the part of the play when the chorus enters
the orchestra through the eisodoi.
o Literally means “competition” but is transformed into a debate in tragedy. Characters in the play present
their side of an issue in a formal debate. An example is the fight between Kreon and Antigone, showing
law/order versus morality.
o Standing songs where the chorus moves from the side of the orchestra to the center once actors leave.
The chorus dances while these songs are performed (strophe in one direction then antistrophe in the
o Choral songs performed during a play are divided into units. The strophe is the “turn” where the chorus
dances in one direction during the song.
o The antistrophe is the counter-turn performed during a choral song. The chorus dances in the other
direction once the anti-strophe occurs.
o Comes from Kopto, meaning to beat (such as oneself during mourning). The kommos is a song of
lamentation performed by both the chorus and one or more actors. Famous example in the Libation
o The point at which the chorus leaves the orchestra after a song. Some plays have explicit tags that
denote this departure. Euripides has a generic tag that he frequently used to denote this point of a play.
Week 2 Lecture 1
o Mental delusion that leads a man to commit offensive acts. Hybris
o Arrogant and offensive actions that must be punished by the gods
o Punishment by the gods
Commentary on all three above
o Ghost of Darius in Persians “For when violent arrogance (hybris) blooms, it reaps the fruits of folly (ate),
from which it gathers a harvest of tears….Zeus is present, the punisher of over-boastful minds, a heavy
o Ate is a force that comes from the gods because a man has become excessive in happiness and
Week 2 Lecture 2
o Translates to “with suffering, through learning/experience.” According to Aeschylus, Zeus conceives
suffering to be a learning experience. This encourages the audience to learn something while watching
the suffering in the play. It also reflects the problematic nature of choices humans must make when faced
with conflicting obligations
o Spectacle. Aristotle in the Poetics singles out different aspects that identify tragedy (plot, opsis, visuality).
o The primeval god that has a powerful and negative effect on human life – the personification of a curse.
Both Clytaemnestra and the Chorus bring up the presence of the daimon that curses the house of Atreus.
Week 3 Lecture 2
o The actual word for “libation bearers”
o The Greek name (from the verb to be angry) used by Aeschylus. The word Furies has a Latin origin.
o Another name used to refer to the erinyes. They were “grave goddesses”. They were worshipped at a
sanctuary near the Areopagus in Athens. Suppliants would take refuge at this grove. No images depict
them as evil looking; Aeschylus was the first to give them snake hair. He was also the first to identify them
with the erinyes, who were developed by Hesoid in the Theogony. They are also considered chthonic
deities, meaning they are goddesses of the earth (associated with the ancient Titans imprisoned) rather
than the Olympians in the sky.
o Translates to “setting change.” Has particular importance for Eumenides since there are three different
settings: Delphi, Athens Acropolis, and the Areopagus.
In tragedies, the chorus typically remains on stage until a scene ends at which they sing between
episodes. In Eumenides, the chorus leaves then reenters in the middle of the play, resulting in the
orchestra being completely empty at a certain point. This “setting change” denotes a major change in the
play. The stage in the play is completely empty when Orestes leaves followed by Apollo and the Chorus.
o The criminal court of Athens that underwent reforms in 460 BC. Its name means “Hill of Ares” and the
Eumenides is essentially used as a foundation story for the court. During the 460 BC reforms by Ephialtes,
the council’s power was curtailed and limited to being a homicide court only. Some wonder if Aeschylus’
inclusion of the Areopagus in the play has any political implications and takes a stance on one side or
another about the court reforms.
Week 0 Lecture 1
o Three genres compose Greek drama: tragedy, satyr drama, and comedy. A play’s genre describes some
of its common features, structure, and treatment of subject matter. The genre helps form the identity of
the play and how the audience will respond to the performance. Week 1 Lecture 1
Embedded stage directions
o Directions are given to actors directly through the script of the play. Rather than requiring notes when
certain actions occur, a character’s lines can signal action. For instance, in Sophocles’ Antigone,
someone says, “here comes Kreon” which is the actor’s cue to arrive on the orchestra.
Week 1 Lecture 2
o In comedy, actors continually refer to the fictional set of the play. However, they also address the
audience directly, which breaks the illusion of being somewhere else while on stage. In tragedy, the
actors never remind the audience that they are in fact watching a play taking place in a fictional location.
The idea of metatheater is never used in tragedy.
o Occurs when a play comments on itself. It brings attention to the circumstances of its own production to
the audience. This means that the play is explicitly self-reflexive.
o Doesn’t happen in ancient tragedy.
o The meaning of text is shaped by other texts. This is a subtle way in which tragedy can be implicitly self-
reflexive. In the play, allusions to previous treatments and theatrical experiences of the same myth are
made. For instance, in Euripides’ Electra, there is critique of the same scene in Aeschylus’ version.
Euripides’ follows the script but changes the dynamic.
o Intertextuality is one way that a tragedy can be implicitly self-conscious (see previous answer). Another
way is through making theatrical connections. An example is Euripides’ Electra. The murders do not take
place on stage and messengers are used to announce deaths to the audience. In such a case, Electra is
less of a character with a direct role and more of a narrator for the audience.
o The case where the audience knows more than the character does, enhancing the drama of actions.
Week 2 Lecture 1
o At the City Dionysia, a tragedian had to produce three tragic plays to be performed in one day. The plays
did not have to be necessarily interconnected. Aeschylus was the first tragedian to produce a true trilogy,
where the three works have a thematic connection. We know of three tetralogies produced by Aeschylus
where the trilogies were interconnected (Theban, Daughters of Danaos, and the Oresteia)
o At the City Dionysia, a tragedian had to produce three tragic plays and one satyr drama. These four
works are called a tetralogy.
Week 2 Lecture 2
o The dilemma caused by making a decision when conflicting obligations exist. It is used to weaken the
idea of associating dike with direct retribution
o “My fate is angry if I disobey these, but angry if I slaughter this child, the beauty of my house, with maiden
blood shed staining these father’s hands beside the altar. What of these things goes now without
disaster?” - Orestes
Week 3 Lecture 1
o The repetition of a scene in such a striking way that it causes the audience to recall an earlier event.
Orestes appearing over the bodies of Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus at the end of Libation Bearers is a
perfect example since it makes the audience remember Clytaemnestra standing over the dead
Agamemnon and Cassandra at the end of Agamemnon.
Electra Complex o There is much discussion on consequential role of Electra, i.e. whether she is socially marginalized after
the opening scene or her little presence has a big role nonetheless. Some believe since she made the
first move during the lamentation of her father, then she was a big part in generating the plot by Orestes.
Electra’s loyalty to paternal authority is what Sigmund Freud calls an “Electra Complex.” In her prayer to
her father, which already demonstrates loyalty, she calls for her brother so he can restore order to the
house. According to Freud, father fixation makes a female subject unwilling to transfer her emotional
attachment to another male figure external to the family. Thus, her loyalties are transferred to Orestes
upon their reunion.
SHORT ANSWER TOPICS
Week 0 Lecture 1
o It was a festival that honored Dionysos. It was five days long and took place in the spring (late March to
early April) and considered a civic holiday.
o Festival began with the pro-agon and the Dionysos Eleuthereus statue being brought out from the shrine
o The first day was the pompe or parade; the second was for five comic poets’ contest; the third, fourth, and
fifth days were each reserved for a tragedian; followed by prizes and a concluding parade
o Satyr drama accompanied tragedies starting in the 5th century
o Ancient festival of the Ionic Greeks that took place in January. It introduced comic and tragic competitions
in 440 BC (mid-5th cen