One of the foundations of a Greek Tragedy is the concept of the tragic hero. Aristotle outlined what he believed were the characteristics of a tragic hero. Based on those characteristics we can examine Sophocles’ Oedipus and determine if he is representative of Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero. In this essay we will look at Aristotle’s views on Greek tragedy and the tragic hero and how Oedipus is representative of Aristotle’s views. The essay will show that Aristotle’s characteristics of a tragic hero are exemplified in the Sophocles’ Oedipus.
In order to understand what a Greek Tragedy is and understand the concept of a tragic hero, we must define what the word tragedy means. According to Brown (n.d.), “The word tragedy literally means “goat song,” referring to the practice of giving a goat as a sacrifice or a prize at the religious festivals In honor of the god Dionysos; tragedy signifies a dramatic presentation of high seriousness and noble character which examines the major questions of human existence” (Brown, n.d.). In today’s language a tragedy simply means an unexpected disaster that strikes someone.
Definition of Tragedy
According to Kennedy and Goia (2013), “Greek theater was directed at the moral and political education of the community” (Kennedy and Goia, 2013). In relation to Greek tragedy the word tragedy is a drama based on the suffering of humans that makes the audience feels pleasure from viewing it. “One of the most widespread assumptions about a good Greek tragedy is that it must have an unhappy ending” (Morrissey, 2003). Greek tragedies usually have a heroic character that has to rise above extraordinary circumstances. These tragic characters usually suffer a...
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Brown, L. (n.d.). Aristotle on Greek Tragedy. Retrieved from
Farahbakhsh, A. (2013). Exploring the Applicability of Aristotle’s “Tragic Flaw” to Sophocles’
Oedipus Rex. Vol.2, No. 3. Retrieved from http://iresearcher.org/P10,%20108-115.pdf
Kennedy, X.J. & Goia, D. (2013). The Civic Role of Greek Drama: Literature: An Introduction
to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. p. 857 Custom 7th ed. Boston: Pearson
Morrissey, C. (2003). Oedipus the Cliché: Aristotle on Tragic form and Content. Anthropoetics.
Vol. 9, no. 1. Retrieved from http://www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu/ap0901/oedipus.htm
Sophocles ( n.d.). The Origins of Oedipus the King. In Kennedy, X.J. & Goia, D. (2013), 7th ed.
(p. 859), Boston: Pearson
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