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ACTIVATOR: ERROR
ANALYSIS
Which two are answered incorrectly?
TRUE 1. Greek dramas are structured like so: Prologue,
Parados, First Episode, First Stasimon, and Exodos.
FALSE 2. Actors in Greek plays wore masks so that no one
would know their identity; acting was considered a worthless
profession.
FALSE 3. The three genres of drama for the Greeks were
Comedy, Tragedy, and Satyr.
TRUE 4. According to the Greeks, Dionysus was the god of
wine and theater.
TRUE 5. The Oedipus Complex is the childhood desire to
THE THEBAN PLAYS
BY SOPHOCLES
An Introduction
THE THREE PLAYS
Section 1
SOPHOCLES
• Born to a wealthy family in Athens,
Greece around 459 B.C.
• Highly revered playwright
throughout his lifetime.
• Participated in the Festival of
Dionysus multiple times, and won
first place in many competitions.
• Other than being a playwright, he
was also a politician and soldier at
different points.
PLAY #1: OEDIPUS REX
• Setting: Thebes
• King Laius and Queen Jocasta
hear a prophecy that their son
will kill him and marry her, so
they abandon their son,
Oedipus, in the woods.
• The prophecy is fulfilled by Oedipus later on, but
he does so unknowingly.
• When it is discovered that the prophecy has been
fulfilled, tragedy befalls the family.
PLAY #2: OEDIPUS AT COLONUS
• Setting: Colonus, northern Athens
• Led by one of his daughters,
Antigone, Oedipus travels to
Colonus. They are later joined by
Ismene, Antigone’s sister.
• Oedipus’ sons, Polyneices and Eteocles, remain in
Thebes fighting for the throne.
• Oedipus’ brother-in-law, Creon, supports Eteocles’
claim.
• Once Oedipus dies, Antigone returns to Thebes,
PLAY #3: ANTIGONE
• Setting: Thebes
• The play begins after Antigone’s
brothers have killed each other and
Creon has taken power.
• Creon supported Eteocles, so he
gives him a proper burial. However,
he denies Polyneices a proper
burial since he is a “traitor.”
• Antigone disagrees with the new
king’s decree.
LITERARY DEVICES IN
OEDIPUS REX
Section 2
IRONY
• Verbal: words are used to suggest the
opposite of their usual meaning
• Situational: an event occurs that directly
contradicts the expectations of the
characters, the reader, or the audience
• Dramatic: there is a contradiction between
what a character thinks and what the reader
or audience knows to be true
STICHOMYTHIA
• Stichomythia is a dialogue, especially of altercation
or dispute, delivered by two actors in alternating
lines
• It is a sort of line for line verbal fencing match in
which the characters’ lines play off each other.
• Character A is assigned one verse line, Character B takes
the following line, Character A takes the next, and so on.
(ping-pong line talk)
• Ordinarily occurs at moments of high tension or conflict
between the characters.
• May present thesis and counter thesis, question and
answer, or argument and refutation.
• The structure of the lines are nearly parallel, and cue words
lead the thought from one speech to the next.
OTHER LITERARY DEVICES
• Simile: a comparison of two unlike things using the
word “like” or “as”
• Metaphor: a comparison of two unlike things not
using the word “like” or “as”
• Personification: attributing human traits to something
nonhuman
• Paradox: a seeming contradiction; sounds
impossible, yet is in fact possible.
• Foreshadowing: clues or hints to events that have yet
to occur
• Imagery : descriptive language that appeals to the
five senses
ELEMENTS OF A GREEK
TRAGEDY
Section 3
TRAGEDY: A DEFINITION
• Greek philosopher Aristotle defined the term
“tragedy” as “an imitation of an action that is serious,
complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language
embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the
several kinds being found in separate parts of the
play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through
pity and fear effecting the proper purgation for these
emotions.”
• Inspired by Aristotle, the definition we use today is a
work of literature, especially a play, that tells of a
catastrophe, a disaster or great misfortune, for the
ARISTOTLE’S THREE UNITIES
• Aristotle’s concept of the Three Unities is
basically a formula for a perfect tragedy:
• Unity of Place: a play should be set in only one
location.
• Unity of Time: a play should only represent the
happenings of one day; the events of the past are
recounted by characters.
• Unity of Action: only actions and scenes relating to
the main plot should be included; any unnecessary
subplots should be omitted.
ARISTOTLE’S SIX ELEMENTS OF
TRAGEDY
• Aristotle identified the following as the
key elements of a tragedy:
1. Plot
2. Characters
3. Diction
4. Thought
5. Spectacle
6. Melody
• Plot and Characters are the most
important of the elements.
TRAGIC HERO
• Usually of noble birth such as royalty; a leader of
men
• Has a hamartia (tragic flaw) such as a mistake in
judgment or hubris (pride) which leads to his or
her downfall
• The peripetia (reversal of fortune) begins the
tragic hero’s downfall
• After the downfall, s/he gains self-awareness and
knowledge
THE GODS
• Either the gods themselves or
prophets/oracles prevent the
tragic hero from reaching the
goal, or they attempt to tell the
tragic hero for what he should
be on the lookout.
• DEUS EX MACHINA – “god
from the machine.” A god
lowered from a crane at the
end of the play (as if from
heavens), usually creating a
resolution for the play.
CHORUS
• A group of twelve or fifteen men, led by a
Choragus, who would sing choral songs that
dictated what was happening in the play and
forced the audience to question what was
going on in the tragedy.
CATHARSIS
• The idea is that the
audience of a tragedy
experiences a
purification and
purging (cleansing) of
his or her emotions of
pity and fear - the
“thank God it’s not me”
phenomenon.
• The tragedy should
affect catharsis in the
SUMMARIZER: VENN DIAGRAM
• INSTRUCTIONS: Create a Venn Diagram
which depicts the similarities and
differences between an epic hero and a
tragic hero.
Both
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