Ancient Greek Theater

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Have you ever just wanted to kill your parents? Perhaps they are not letting you order a seventh slice of cheese pizza at Chuck E. Cheese’s, or not letting you hang out with that dreamy hunk Bryan on Saturday. For Oedipus, killing his parents was not something petty he threatened when he got too worked up, but rather his fate. This suspenseful and masterful plot, conceived by the legendary playwright Sophocles, was one of the many groundbreaking works to come out of fifth century BC Greece. Works of ancient Greek theater, particularly Oedipus the King, embodied the spirit of innovation that fifth century BC Athens was known for. The fifth century BC in Athens, aptly known as the “Golden Age,” was a time of great achievements in art and philosophy. Sophocles and other notable Greek playwrights Euripides and Aeschylus flourished in this time period. After Greece’s victory in the Persian War in 449 BC, Athens evolved into the hub of art, culture, intellect, and freedom under its leader, Pericles, that it is remembered as today. While the city itself remained fairly small at a population around 300,000, this Athens is to accredit for not only the shape Western culture but also democracy (Knox xiii). Because of the city’s relatively small population, direct democracy, in which every citizen plays a direct role by voting, was born. Citizens also had the liberty to file lawsuits against one another and represent themselves in a court of law. Due to the necessity of self-representation in the Athenian government system, public speaking, or rhetoric, became a coveted skill (Knox xvi). The growing commodity of grabbing attention of the public perhaps contributed to the conception of the theatric performance. While fifth century BC Greece wa... ... middle of paper ... ...rone and Jocasta, who is actually his mother, as a wife. However, he does not know that she is his mother. Eventually, the servant who gave Oedipus away tells him who his real parents are, that he has already killed his father and Jocasta is his mother. When Oedipus finds that Jocasta has hung herself after this revelation, he gouges his eyes out and is exiled to roam the countryside for the rest of his life (“Sophocles”). A ravenous plague is described in the beginning of Oedipus the King (Kousoulis 153). This plague could be a reflection of the plague that devastated Athens in 430 BC, at the start of the Peloponnesian War and just a year before the completion of Oedipus the King. Sophocles and the theatre of ancient Greece were both greatly influential on the shape of theatre today and laid the foundation for shape of not only theatre, but also the modern world.
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