Oedipus Background

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Text of Oedipus Background

  • Greek DramaPlays performed in religious festivals to honour the god Dionysus, god of wine and revelry.

    Performed in an outdoor theatron carved out of a hillside.

  • Panoramic view of the Greek theater at Epidaurus

  • History of OedipusSophocles Theban plays include Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone

    Family curse passed generation to generation.

  • MythologyPolytheistic.

    Gods interact with humans and often play with humans for their own amusement. They are capricious and unpredictable.

    Gods interbreed with humans.

    The gods themselves are subject to the Fates.

    Apollo, the god of healing, prophecy (oracles), the arts -- especially music -- and archery.

  • The Oracle of Delphi

    Delphi - the centre of the world or Omphalos

    The Temple of Apollo at Delphi attracts pilgrims who come to seek the advice of the Pythia.

    The prophecies must be decoded and interpreted.

    Fate is inescapable.

  • The Riddle of the SphinxWhat goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon and on three legs in the evening?

  • The Double Edge of IronyKnowledge of background story creates DRAMATIC IRONYNote also, SITUATIONAL IRONY

  • TragedySome Features of Greek TragedyThree Unities (time, place and action)Violence and death offstage. Frequent use of messengers to relate information. Stories based on myth or history, but varied interpretations of events.Focus is on psychological and ethical attributes of characters.

  • ConventionsThree actors on stageMasksAll male castChorus

    Offer background and summary material.Comment on the themes.Express things the characters cannot say such as fears or secrets.Interact with characters and offer advice.Strophe (movement) and antistrophe (countermovement).

  • Conventions cont. Form

    The play opened with a prologue, the action before the entrance of the chorus. Then came the parados, the entering lyric of the chorus. This was followed by the alternating episodes, of the actors and the choral odes. The play ended with the exodos, the action after the last choral ode.

  • Aristotles DefinitionEvery tragedy must include Plot, Character, Diction, Thought, Spectacle and Melody.

    The plot must be complex.

    The plot must represent what is fearful or pitiful.

    We must sympathize with the character and realize that the character falls into misfortune due not to wickedness, but due to a tragic flaw.

  • Important ConceptsHubrisHamartiaCatharsisPeripeteiaAnagnorisis