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Drama and Melodrama

Drama and Melodrama

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Drama and Melodrama

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  1. Drama and Melodrama HUM 2051: Civilization I Fall 2014 Dr. Perdigao September 17-22, 2014

  2. Staging Drama • Epic • Drama • Poetry • Greek Drama—5th-6th century BCE (especially 490-404 BCE in Athens) • Dionysiac Revels (contests: agon (struggle)) (choric song) • Thespis/Aeschylus (526 -456 BCE) • [thespian] • Sophocles (495-408 BCE) • Euripides (480-406 BCE) • Masks (persona/e) • Chorus • Orkhestra • Skene


  4. Plotting • Hamartia tragic flaw • Hubris desire to be godlike • Anagnorisis recognition by tragic hero about himself, his/her actions, identity (leads to reversal) • Peripeteia change of events, reversal of circumstances • Tragic vision • Irony • Sight/blindness • Fate/free will • Stasima (choruses) and episodes (action) • Ampitheatre

  5. Evolution of Forms • Shift in drama from narration to dramatic impersonation—when leader of chorus went from telling about the god to enacting moment in god’s life • Additions of more actors allowed more confrontation—occurred after Thespis—enhanced psychological conflict, shift to agon and realism • Large, stylized masks—mask gender; voice and appearance—help to visualize characters, differentiate; appear ritualistic (as opposed to real), called persona(e)

  6. History of Drama • Greek contest/struggle=agon • 3 parts of the Oresteia: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides (458 BCE) • Worship of Dionysus—festivals • Dithyramb—song sung in honor of Dionysus • Two accounts: Semele dies (Dionysus in Zeus’ leg); son of Persephone, ritual of dismemberment, being put back together • Pentheus slaughtered by women, cause: denying Dionysus is a god

  7. History of Drama • Dionysia—four or five days, spring festival celebrating defeat of Persian invaders (480-479 BCE), surpremacy of Athens • Tragic poet—three tragedies and a satyr play (burlesque on mythic theme) • Comic poet—one comedy • Tragic poet—trilogy or three separate stories • Oresteia: 458 BCE • Aeschylus dies two years later

  8. On Tragedy • “Tragic vision” of life—sense that people must struggle to overcome limits which they cannot overcome • Recognition that this struggle is the glory of being human and disaster of being human • Disaster to ignore human limits—offend gods if struggle • In The Iliad, hero defends self against death though death is way to immortality; urge to perfection is desirable but against notion of gods • Tragic irony • Tragedy—movement from disorder: order but at cost

  9. Framing the Trilogy • Aeschylus— “creator of tragedy” (502) • Fought against Persians at Marathon, believed to have fought at Salamis, produced around ninety plays, of which six or seven survive (502) • At the end of The Libation Bearers, Furies appear to Orestes—to avenge matricide • With development of court, move from old era to the beginning of the new (503), with communal justice rather than the “inconclusive anarchy of individual revenge” (503) • Justice as theme • Nets—system of justice connects, binds, and traps

  10. Shifting Perspectives • “From suffering comes understanding and progress” (504) • “They are all caught in the net, the system of justice by vengeance that only binds tighter the more its captives struggle to free themselves” (505). • Gender asymmetry: “the Furies’ incorporation into Athens represents the appropriation and taming of female power, and it validates the exclusion of women from the civic processes of the democracy—a fact of Athenian daily life. On the other hand, in celebrating the Furies’ roles of maintaining obedience to law through inspiring fear and of promoting natural fertility, the text acknowledges the power of the female, which it associates with the Earth’s natural processes, ‘primitive’ and prior to the male-centered rationality of the city but vital still. The female is given a role in the city, even though she is excluded from its official public life, and that role is celebrated. There is no doubt, however, about the dominance of the patriarchal principle under the authority of the Olympian gods.” (504)