Clst 181SK Ancient Greece and the Origins of Western Culture. The Birth of Drama

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1 Clst 181SK Ancient Greece and the Origins of Western Culture The Birth of Drama

2 The Birth of Drama The three great Classical tragedians: Aeschylus BC Oresteia (includes Agamemnon), Prometheus Bound Sophocles BC, Antigone, Ajax, Philoctetes Euripides BC Medea, Trojan Women, Iphigeneia, Orestes

3 The Birth of Drama Theater of Dionysus, Athens

4 The Birth of Drama Theater of Dionysus, Athens

5 The Birth of Drama Theater of Dionysus, Athens

6 Pericles, Funeral Oration "... Our form of does not imitate the laws of neighboring states. On the contrary, we are rather a model to others. Our form of government is called a democracy because its administration is in the hands, not of a few, but of the whole people. In the settling of private disputes, everyone is equal before the law. Election to public office is made on the basis of ability, not on the basis of membership to a particular class. No man is kept out of public office by the obscurity of his social standing because of his poverty, as long as he wishes to be of service to the state. And not only in our public life are we free and open, but a sense of freedom regulates our day-to-day life with each other. We do not flare up in anger at our neighbor if he does what he likes. And we do not show the kind of silent disapproval that causes pain in others, even though it is not a direct accusation. In our private affairs, then, we are tolerant and avoid giving offense. But in public affairs, we take great care not to break law because of the deep respect we have for them. We give obedience to the men who hold public office from year to year. And we pay special regard to those laws that are for the protection of the oppressed and to all the unwritten laws that we know bring disgrace upon the transgressor when they are broken. "Let me add another point. We have had the good sense to provide for our spirits more opportunities for relaxation from hard work than other people. Throughout the year, there are dramatic and athletic contests and religious festivals. In our homes we find beauty and good taste, and the delight we find every day in and this drives away our cares. And because of the greatness of our city, all kinds of imports flow in to us from all over the world. It is just as natural for us to enjoy the good products of other nations as it is to enjoy the things that we produce ourselves. "Our love for beauty does not make us extravagant, and our love of things of the mind does not make us soft.

7 =Oedipus Rex [Latin], ΟΙΔΙΠΟΥΣ ΤΥΡΑΝΝΟΣ [Greek] Oedipus & the Sphinx

8 The Function of the CHORUS

9 Word play & the poetry of paradox: riddle of the Sphinx: what has a voice and is sometimes 2-footed, sometimes 3-footed, and sometimes 4- footed, yet violates the natural principle that the animal with more feet is the stronger? OR what is 4-footed in the morning, 2-footed in the afternoon, 3-footed in the evening?

10 Word play & the poetry of paradox: Central from the very beginning: the idea of paradox, of riddling wisdom, of the onethat-is-many: much of the meaning of the play derives from the specifics of the poetic wording

11 Word play & the poetry of paradox: IRONY Irony: when a remark shows a distance between apparent and intended meaning, that is, where what is literally said is opposite to what seems to be the case. Examples (from the class)

12 The Limits to Human inquiry and understanding How terrible is wisdom when it brings no profit to the man that is wise. - Teiresias, lines 316f

13 pathei mathos - learning through suffering Aeschylus, Agamemnon What has Oedipus done to deserve such awful suffering? Why must he suffer?

14 (1) In later antiquity, folks liked to tell stories about the friendship between Herodotus and Sophocles. Scholars today think this is made up, but you can probably see why the thought that these two have similar points of view might have occurred to later readers. First, see what parallels you can find between Herodotus and Oedipus, whether particular (think Cyrus) or thematic (you might want to review the story of Atys and Adrastus). There are lots of possibilities, but here are a couple of specific lines in the Oedipus play that might help you start your thinking on this: lines , , But that s just the first step. Having in hand now some examples of how the two writers work to similar purposes, think about, and be ready to talk about, what this means for how a contemporary Greek reacted to the play. (2) There are, or so it seems to many, some interesting parallels between the Oedipus Rex and the Iliad, particularly in the ways the two reflect upon suppliants and piety in relation to the figure of the hero. Collect, again, some specific parallels, whether in details or theme, and bring these to class to share and discuss. (3) Many scholars think that the Oedipus Rex was written in the couple of years following the 429 plague. If that is true (it may not be, but let s do this thought experiment), how would this play resonate with the Athenian public as it is being performed in, say, 427, when the memory of the plague is still fresh, and the glorious Athenian empire is in trouble as the war with Sparta starts to grind them down. Again, collect specific details or themes that seem parallel in play and situation, and think hard about what this means for how a contemporary reacted to the play. The fact that Athens thought of their intellectual and artistic and political attainments as a model for others, a trumph of man s measure over things, should loom large in this discussion.

15 (2) There are, or so it seems to many, some interesting parallels between the Oedipus Rex and the Iliad, particularly in the ways the two reflect upon suppliants and piety in relation to the figure of the hero. Collect, again, some specific parallels, whether in details or theme, and bring these to class to share and discuss. [some starting points: suppliant (Oedipus is kind, pious- line 12), Seer line 300 but then 329ff (Oedipus is deferential and kind at first; suspicious and quarrelsome the minute things do not go his way) - note how quickly Oed. seethes Quickness to anger in particular resonates with the Iliad - lack of sophrosyne plague - who brings the plague? Heroes and PAIN - learning through SUFFERING - what sort of learning?]

16 (1) In later antiquity, folks liked to tell stories about the friendship between Herodotus and Sophocles. Scholars today think this is made up, but you can probably see why the thought that these two have similar points of view might have occurred to later readers. First, see what parallels you can find between Herodotus and Oedipus, whether particular (think Cyrus) or thematic (you might want to review the story of Atys and Adrastus). There are lots of possibilities, but here are a couple of specific lines in the Oedipus play that might help you start your thinking on this: lines , , But that s just the first step. Having in hand now some examples of how the two writers work to similar purposes, think about, and be ready to talk about, what this means for how a contemporary Greek reacted to the play. [some starting points: in Herodotus, Croesus, Cyrus, Atys, Adrastus; in Oed. Rex, : small/ mighty theme (proem of Herodotus); what man earns more of happiness than a seeming and after that a turning away? count no mortal happy (ὀλβίζειν) until he has passed the final limit of his life secure from pain]

17 (3) Many scholars think that the Oedipus Rex was written in the couple of years following the 429 plague. If that is true (it may not be, but let s do this thought experiment), how would this play resonate with the Athenian public as it is being performed in, say, 427, when the memory of the plague is still fresh, and the glorious Athenian empire is in trouble as the war with Sparta starts to grind them down. Again, collect specific details or themes that seem parallel in play and situation, and think hard about what this means for how a contemporary reacted to the play. The fact that Athens thought of their intellectual and artistic and political attainments as a model for others, a trumph of man s measure over things, should loom large in this discussion.

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