Background Theban Trilogy Sophocles Born 496 B.C. Wrote 113 plays, only 7 have survived From an area outside Athens, Greece
Won 1st at the Dionysian 18 times Innovator of drama: painted background scenery and speaking actors Interested in character portrayal Concerned with the individuals struggle with Fate
Died at 90 in 406 B.C- part of the pivotal influence - political, historical, philosophical from Roman Empire to now Origins of Greek Drama-Dionysus Began through religious worship of Dionysus Greek god of wine, revelry, and physical pleasure Not
PG-13! Handsome and vigorous-filled with the joy of life Father of the Greek Theater Origins of Greek Drama When grapes were harvested, the Greeks would celebrate in honor of Dionysus
Much dancing and singing Some people wore masks- How does this change behavior? At first, everyone took part in the activities. Then, some who danced or sang better than the others would take control of the activities. The others would gather to watch, thus performance came into existence
A large audience needed a place to see the performance. The people sought out semi-circular hillsides sloping down toward a flat area. This flat area was stomped down and called the dancing circle and Western civilizations first stage The First Theatre Acoustics? Placement? What is the focus of the performance? Theatre of Delphi Today
What else still functions/exists from 400 BC? Characteristics of Greek Drama Open to the sky Seats of stone Simple props used
No violence represented directly on stage - What? Speculate why. Rich citizens (patrons) funded the expense of putting on a play Awesome acoustics and visibility Tickets were free - changes demographics, which influences content
Only occurred once a year at the Feast of Dionysus- How is this an influence? Characteristics of Greek Drama Women sat apart from men Only men were actors or in the chorus: elaborate masks worn No effects. Not so much about costumes- WORDS!
Lively audience, ate and drank, quarrelled, shouted, hissed, groaned, threw olives, figs, or stones - Is this interactive? Three days of drama-on each day five plays were presented: 3 tragedies, a satyr play, and a comedy Winners chosen by a panel of 10 judges Chorus The Chorus
Earliest Greek drama was a group production performed by a chorus - Purpose? The chorus sometimes sang, sometimes chanted Separates from narrative In 535 B.C., a man named Thespis, who was a prominent leader of the chorus, stepped out from the group and recited alonethus, the first actor
Originally, the Chorus consisted of about 50 people The Chorus Chorus dwindled to no more than 15 people over the years, as first a second actor was added, and finally, a third Chorus can function as another character in the play
Chorus sets the mood and atmosphere of the play bridging current cultural climate Engages in dialogue with the characters through the Chorus Leader Comments on and emphasizes the main themes of the play Offers important background and provides summaries so that the audience might better understand the play
Models an ideal audiences response to the unfolding drama. The Chorus reacts to the events in the play- What would be the result of this? Foreshadows the outcome of the play Chorus- Discussion pages 168- 170 186-187 209-210 233-234, 251 65-66
Things to Look for in the Chorus Discuss: dramatic irony Concept of fate Characterization of Oedipus Immediately following the Choruss first ode (168-244) calling to the gods, Oedipus enters and says that he will answer the Choruss prayers Role of and Belief in the gods Blindness, Truth, Knowledge 244 338-706 707-1007 13111684
Nature of the conflict Concept of transgression-violation of a law, command, or duty The Chorus takes the stage, confused and unsure whom to believe. They resolve that they will not believe any of these accusations against Oedipus unless they are shown proof. (338706) Nevertheless, the Chorus holds staunchly to the belief that the prophecies of Tiresias will come true. For if they do not, there is no order on earth or in the heavens. (707-1007) The Chorus comes onstage once more. Oedipus, greatest of men, has fallen , they say, and so all life is miserable, and only death can bring peace.(1311-1684) Character Analysis Oedipus
His names literal meaning ( swollen foot ) is the clue to his identity - Where are some clues? he was taken from the house of Laius as a baby and left in the mountains with his feet bound together. Limping- Where? Rex- reigning king, forcibly taken
Immediately following the Choruss first ode (168-244) calling to the gods, Oedipus enters and says that he will answer the Choruss prayers. For a moment , Oedipus takes upon himself the role of a god a role the Chorus has been both reluctant and eager to allow him What is the message of deification to the audience? At this early moment, we see Oedipuss dangerous pride, which explains his willful blindness and, to a certain extent, justifies his downfall.
Oedipus as tragic hero Man of hubris- p. 159, line 7 Foreshadowing p. 161, line 39 While he is helpful, he is harmful, usurping the gods p. 171, line 245 Greek perception: high born, deinos, man of action p. 162 line 81 What is his mistake? Its not ignoring Tiresias and accusing Creon. He thinks he knows his parentage, so he is rash, thinking he knows what he is doing, punishes the offender (dramatic irony) and heads straight for anagnorisis, Aristotle says the best plot is one where anagnorisis and peripeteia come together at the same time. Jocasta
Jocasta attempts to make peace between Oedipus and Creon, pleading with Oedipus not to banish Creon. As proof, she offers the fact that the Delphic oracle told Laius he would be murdered by his son, while actually his son was cast out of Thebes as a baby and Laius was murdered by a band of thieves. So what does this mean? What is the implication of an incorrect prophesy? If that is wrong, then... She rejects Tiresiass terrifying prophecies as false. 707-1007 Reasoning? Jocasta solves the riddle of Oedipuss identity before Oedipus does, and she
expresses her love for her son and husband in her desire to protect him from this knowledge. Find it Jocasta is both careless and maternal. Jocastas mistake is similar to Oedipuss in the previous section: she confuses conclusions and evidence. Creon Creon : Oedipuss brother-in-law So what is his claim to the throne? Does this mar his clarity in thought? 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. Creon never has our sympathy in the way Oedipus does, because he is bossy and bureaucratic, intent on asserting his own authority.
Tiresias Tiresias The blind soothsayer of Thebes Tiresias tells Oedipus that he is the murderer he hunts, and Oedipus does not believe him. Why not? Is it a riddle or protection? 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 Why does allow this train wreck to occur, if he knows the truth? Themes Sight vs. Blind Insight Physical Sight vs.
Oedipuss metaphorical blindness to the relationship between his past and his present situation that brings about his ruin. Oedipus frequently alludes to sight and blindness, creating many moments of dramatic irony. Tiresias is blind but can see the truth; Oedipus has his sight but cannot.
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 Duality O light! May this be the last time I look upon you! I was born from one who should not have born me, lived with those I shouldnt have lived with, and killed those I should not have killed! Now that there is light, what must Oedipus do? maintain duality. Does it matter who realizes the truth first? Jocastas
response? Oedipus? Dramatic irony in the Search for truth (lines 338706) The leader of the Chorus asks Oedipus to calm down, but Tiresias only taunts Oedipus further, saying that the king does not even know who his parents are. This statement both infuriates and intrigues Oedipus, who asks for the truth of his parentage.
Tiresias answers only in riddles, saying that the murderer of Laius will turn out to be both brother and father to his children, both son and husband to his mother. Dramatic irony again. Pride lines 7071007 Chorus enters, announcing that the world is ruled by destiny and denouncing prideful men who would defy the gods. At the same time, the Chorus worries that if all the
prophecies and oracles are wrongif a proud man can, in fact, triumphthen the gods may not rule the world after all. What is the implication of this? Timing lines 10081310 Jocasta mentions the roads (line 810), new detail, the one eye witness lives line 832 The messenger, a shepherd years ago, explains he found a baby Oedipus on Mount Cithaeron, near Thebes, from Laiuss servant. p. 218 line 1119. The other shepherd turns out to be the same shepherd who witnessed Laiuss murder, so...
Jocasta begs him to abandon his search, but Oedipus refuses. Line 1163, 1166, 1170, 1172 He used to listen to her. Truth above all else. No longer wants Laius killer, his parentage Jocasta turns sharply, seeming to sense some horrible revelation on the horizon. Why does she say nothing? Chorus has to ask where Jocasta went- he is fixated line 1179, when he does the bed, the brooch Torturing old men line 1269 Oedipus wants to find this shepherd, so he can find out who his natural parents are. What had to happen to learn the truth? Jocasta mentioned the minute detail about the roads
The shepherd still lives; the messenger happens to be in town again Oedipus threatens him so that the shepherd answers: the baby came from the house of Laius, Jocasta gave it to him to destroy because of the prophecy but the shepherd gave the baby to the other shepherd to be raised as a prince in Corinth. ALL the pivotal players had to be in the same room at the same time- it was not probable- ever, but it happened. Fated? Or chance? Jocastas response P. 236-237 line 1365, 1379 Word play Oedipus reaction, the brooches symbolism 1402 This is pathos: Digs, raking- self-inflicted
Sight= ignorant, so knowledgeable= blind Chorus says cursed by gods p. 239 line 1438, but is he? Who did this? 1471 Oedipus looks beyond himself to the city and his daughters p. 247 line 1599 Accept the Tragedy, 13111684 Creon agrees to exile Oedipus from the city, but tells him that he will only do so if every detail is approved by the gods. Oedipus embraces Antigone and Ismene since they will be excluded from society, and no man will want to marry the offspring of an incestuous marriage. His concern is that he destroyed their futures. The Chorus comes onstage once more. Oedipus, greatest of men, has fallen, they say, and so all life is miserable, and only death can bring peace.
Chorus Analysis Creon s earlier protestations that he lacked the desire for power are proved completely false by his eagerness to take Oedipuss place as king, and by the cutting ferocity with which he silences Oedipus at the end of the play. At the end of the play, one kind of pride has merely replaced another, and all men, as the Chorus goes on to say, are destined to be miserable.
Oedipus vs. Creon Contrasted with Creon, Oedipus becomes a tragic figure rather than a monster. Though throughout the play Oedipus has behaved willfully and proudly, he has also been earnest and forthright in all of his actions. His punishment of blindness and exile seems just, therefore, because he inflicted it upon himself. Creon, on the other hand, has the outward trappings of Oedipuss candid, frank nature, but none of its substance. Theme- The Willingness to Ignore the Truth
This is perhaps why Jocasta feels she can tell Oedipus of the prophecy that her son would kill his father, and Oedipus can tell her about the similar prophecy given him by an oracle, and neither feels compelled to remark on the coincidence. Do we choose to be blind? Oedipus can hear the story of Jocasta binding her childs ankles and not think of his own swollen feet. Are we that blind? While the information in these speeches is largely intended to make
the audience painfully aware of the tragic irony, it also emphasizes just how desperately Oedipus and Jocasta do not want to speak the obvious truth, Theme Insight and blindness Human beings can demonstrate remarkable powers of intellectual penetration and insight, and they have a great capacity for knowledge, but even the smartest human being is liable to error, that the human capability for knowledge is ultimately quite limited and unreliable. Symbol The Three-way Crossroads
A crossroads is a place where a choice has to be made, so crossroads usually symbolize moments where decisions will have important consequences but where different choices are still possible, but... In this play, the crossroads symbolizes fate and the awesome power of prophecy rather than freedom and choice. Fate or Free Will? Discuss the conflict between fate and destiny on one hand and free will. Can they both exist? Which is real?
How does Oedipus grapple with his limited free will? How does Oedipus see himself? How is this similar or different from how he is perceived by others? What are some examples of dramatic irony (when we know things the character doesnt yet realize) in Oedipus the King ? Find them- so many. Antigone, the first play, completes the story. Creon declares his order of a death penalty for anyone caught violating his order. When exactly does Antigone act? Does she wait? What exacerbates her decision. Antigone attempts to bury her brother twice- is she caught and sentenced to death, or does she show her hand, wanting to be caught?
Antigone raises discussion... justice: divine vs. human family vs. society personal values vs. abstract ideals male vs. female weak vs. strong authorities vs. outcasts
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