The Era of Greek Tragedy

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The Era of Greek Tragedy In Athens, during the final thirty years of sixth century B.C. playwrights began creating the earliest drama in all of Europe, Greek tragedy (Sifakis, “Greek Tragedy”). Though now the products of the movement are seen as pieces of literature to be read, they originated as theatrical pieces meant to be performed on the stage. The tragedies were mostly derived from stories about their gods, such as Hades, Zeus and Nyx. In that time period, tales of these immortals were passed down from generation to generation as history, not fairy tales. The Greeks believed the stories were those of their ancestors and revered them much as people today revere the Bible or some other religious text. However, Dionysus is the god whose cult dominated the Greek Tragic Era (Sifakis, “Greek Tragedy”). Dionysus was not only the god of wine but of theatre, so indeed the Greeks sought to give him special honor. The honor didn’t last long through the era, however, and the plays quickly lost their Dionysiac qualities shortly after the movement’s birth (Sifakis, “Greek Tragedy”). Thespis was the first poet credited with writing a Greek tragedy, but the first performances of tragedies in the City Dionysia weren’t recorded until some twenty-five years later (Sifakis, “Greek Tragedy”). The people’s strong connection to their multitude of gods stoked a fire for the popularity of the tragedies to grow upon. The Greek caste system was set in stone and their moral ethics were mostly universal in nature, as well as their views on the different sexes. The tragedies took these things and highlighted them in their plays, creating themes from contemporary ideas that pushed against the normal social and political opinions of the Greeks. ... ... middle of paper ... ...oathsome creature” (Euripides, Medea – Medea and Other Plays, Line 1,324). Medea is quite possibly the most controversial and complex female character from the Greek Tragic Era because she refuses to stay within the confines of Ancient Greece’s social classes, suggesting that women can be found more capable than men. Works Cited Sifakis, G.M. “Greek Tragedy.” Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. Advameg, Inc. 2011. Web. 27 Mar. 2011. Euripides. Medea - Medea and Other Plays. USA: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print. Euripides. Hippolytus – Medea and Other Plays. USA: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print. Sophocles. Oedipus the King – Three Theban Plays. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 2007. Print. MacLennan, Bruce. “Typical Structure of a Tragedy.” Typical Structure of a Greek Play. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 4 Sept. 1999. Web. 2 April. 2011.

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