"The Persians" or ...

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Greek Connection Message Board ] [ Greek Connection ]

Posted by Tracey on April 12, 2001 at 05:13:36:

In Reply to: What was the first Greek Tragedy Written???? posted by LT on April 12, 2001 at 00:56:49:

Hi, LT,

Still the answer depends on what you define as a 'tragedy'.

What we define as a tragedy today (The Classical Tragedy, apart from structural requirements (s.a. five phases of plot development), is defined as a play with tragic plot, in which the hero by his own free will chooses his destiny.

The Greek tragedy of old is something very different. Plays were some kind of animated oratorios or choral poetry accompanied by or supplemented with expressive dance. For example, a chorus danced and exchanged dialogue with a single actor who portrayed the different (if there were more than one) characters by using masks.

That's why Aeschylus is generally considered the father of Greek tragedy: the novelties he introduced into the original combination of dance spectacle, choral poetry and, entertainment (p.e. they used jugglers - even Sophocles had a reputation for being a good juggler), bloodshed was depicted with the enthusiam we know from modern splatter movies. ), where the first steps into the direction of what we today define a tragedy. 'The Persians' being the first tragedy that has survived time.

Aeschylus (born 525 in Eleusis) was the one to introduce the second actor. With the second actor and the active involvment of the choir into the plot, plays reach an entirely new dramatic quality: the dialogue begins to play a major role. Bloodshed scenes are banned from the stage (No, not the kind of stage, we know today). Yet, the hero is still subjected to gods, bonds, society. Apart from that, Aeschylus used three tragedies to tell a single story. (I've also heard of a four-part version but just can't remember in what context. Probably, it was one of the requirements for the great contest Athenians organised to determine their best dramatist. Maybe Aeschylus managed to change this tradition by his use of the trilogic form.)

Sophocles, (495 B.C.) the second of the great threesom in Greek tragedy, added the third actor, put the entire story in one tragedy, and is held to be the inventor of scene-painting. So if you're looking for a more theatre-kind dialogue, costumes and stage setting, he might be your man, and the earliest of his surviving plays is - I think - Aias.

Euripides (480 B.C.) finally was the one to bring the common man on stage, and personal (Medea - A middle-aged woman loses the love of her husband) and social issues (The Women of Troj - Social consequences for war victims). He might be called the father of modern psychological drama, whereas Sophocles and Aeschylus dealt with rather ethic/moral subject matter. So, if you're looking for the depiction of the tragedy within the indivual: Euripides earliest work we know is "Alkestis".

Hope this helps.


Follow Ups:

Post a Followup





Optional Link URL:

Link Title:

Optional Image URL:

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Greek Connection Message Board ] [ Greek Connection ]