The study of ancient world literature When we use the term ancient Greece we refer to the periods of Greek history lasting from 750 BC (the archaic period) to 146 BC (the Roman conquest). It is generally considered to be the culture which provided the foundation of Western Civilization. The civilization of the ancient Greeks influenced the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, science and arts, in Western Europe. Greek Mythology Is a set of diverse traditional tales told by the ancient Greeks about the exploits of Gods and heroes and their relationship w/ordinary mortals. Formation of Greek Mythology • 3 civilizations that are known for the formation of Greek Mythology include: Hebrews Romans Greeks • Two things that shaped Greek civilization and the remarkable mythology that arose from it: Landscape and Language Landscape The mountains and broken coastline of Greece divided up the mainland into areas which became small kingdoms, each enclosed by natural barriers, therefore creating mini city-states all throughout Greece. The aristocratic families of these city-states constructed genealogies that linked them with legendary heroes associated with their respected cities. Landscape, then, had the effect of creating a number of separate myths linked to earlier settlements. As a results, some of the oldest citystates such as Sparta, Athens, Thebes, Corinth, and Argos appear in story after story. Athens today… Parthenon - temple of Athena Parthenos ("Virgin"), Greek goddess of wisdom, on the Acropolis in Athens. Corinth today… Ruins of the Temple of Apollo in Corinth. Photo © www.HolyLandPhotos.org Language Greek language was highly advanced. The Ancient Greeks were the first Europeans to read and write with an Alphabet, which eventually led to all modern European languages. There were 1. 2. 3. three major dialects in ancient Greece Aeolic Doric Ionic *Homer's poetry of the Iliad and Odyssey was written in Ionic *Ionic became the first literary language of ancient Greece *Greek lyrical poetry and Ancient Greek Tragedy was written in Doric. Greek Alphabet Landscape + Language = Literature Mythology What’s a myth and why the Gods Traditional tale concerning some being or hero (event) with or without determinable facts Greek Gods: The Greeks believe in multiple God’s overseeing their world. They believe that the God’s resemble human beings in their form and in their emotions and that they lived in a society like ours; full of social structure, authority, and power. In Greek and Roman mythology the GREEK ROMAN Aphrodite Venus Apollo Apollo Ares Mars Artemis Diana Athena Minerva Demeter Ceres Dionysus Liber Hephaestus Vulcan Hera Juno Hermes Mercury Poseidon Neptune Zeus Jupiter twelve gods of Olympus ruled the world after the defeat of the Titans. They were to believed to have lived on Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece, whose peaks were high in the clouds and therefore hidden from mortal sight. Zeus was believed to be their leader. Where’s Hades??? ZEUS—King of the Olympian Gods--Ruler of the Sky/Weather Principal Greek Gods (Gods of Olympus) The God Chaos existed before all creation, at a time when the elements of the Earth were still without order. Out of Chaos were born Nyx (Night), Erebus (Underground Darkness), and Gaea (Earth). From Gaea’s union with her son Uranus (Sky) came the mighty Titan Gods. The last remaining Titan God, Cronus, was eventually over-taken by his son Zeus, and the next generation of gods—the Olympians—ruled the skies. Greek Gods and Religion • The Greeks believed in hundreds of deities • The most familiar are the Titan gods and Olympian gods. • The gods, while immortal and powerful, were subject to • fate and to each other’s will. They were also subject to—and bound to enforce—a body of laws and traditions so ancient that their origins lay beyond even the oldest myths. – Among those laws and traditions were laws governing the treatment of blood relations, acceptance of free will and its cosmic consequences and the power of Destiny. Origins of Greek Drama • Fifth Century BCE—Athens will make • tremendous advances in philosophy, rhetoric, literature and the visual arts. Tragedies were performed in an annual competition as a part of the Great Dionysia. – Each playwright produced three tragedies and a satyr-play; all four plays were performed and judged that day. – Sophocles (the author we will be studying) won 20 of these competitions. Greek Literature • Greek Tragedy: drama that gives the audience (reader) an experience of catharsis. – Tragedies focus on the reversal of fortune (peripeteia) and downfall of the tragic hero and the events leading to that downfall. The audience experiences a heightening of emotions, as they watch the hero suffer and they identify with his/her problems…in the end, they feel purged or drained of their emotions and better able to understand life. (catharsis) • Greek Play: Consists of 3 parts: Prologue, Parados and Exodus. – Prologue: opening scene that introduces the conflict of the play – Parados: entrance of the chorus; supply exposition, comment on actions and contributes to thematic development. (plot) – Exodus: final scene where the action accumulates Greek Plays • Highly dependent upon DRAMATIC IRONY • Action was limited to a single setting w/no • • • • violence shown on stage. A messenger would be used to address any deaths or killings Performed in the daytime, minimal sets and props, action of the play took place within a 24hr period Plays had a single main plot that focused on the main character. No sub-plots. Chorus provided background info Actors all male Greek Mythology revolves around the idea of fate— Fate is an uncontrollable force that one cannot alter. The Greeks believed that the God’s were in control and what was meant to be, will be. Mt. Delphi: site of the great oracle of Apollo. (Controller of prophecy and healing) The oracle was a place where one could go to seek the truth and hear your fate. Greeks believed that the oracle was also the center of the universe. Sphinx Symbol used throughout G.M. It was thought to be a winged monster w/the head and breasts of a woman and the body of a lion. In Oedipus Rex the sphinx is used as a destructive agent sent by the goddess Hera to plague the city of Thebes. Those who failed to answer the riddle correctly were devoured. • What walks on 4 legs, 2 legs and 3legs during its lifetime? Principal settings throughout Greek Mythology (Lit.) • Thebes: One of the oldest known cities in Ancient Greece. Where Oedipus Rex takes place. Oedipus’ birth home. • Corinth: city in Ancient Greece full of wealth, commerce and shipbuilding. Adopted home of Oedipus. $$ • Olympus: mountain home of the Greek Gods. Controlled by Zeus. • Mt. Delphi: site of the great oracle of Apollo. Sophocles Greek Writer—author of Oedipus Rex Born 496 B.C. in Athens, Greece-- died in 406 B.C. He saw the rise an fall of Athens…important b/c he was able to reflect his experiences through his writings. (Rise of the Athenian empire, as well as its collapse as a result of the Peloponnesian War (431-404) with Sparta. Sophocles • Completed over 100 plays but only 7 survive. – Ajax, Antigone, Oedipus Rex, Maidens of Trachis, Electra, Philoctetes, and Oedipus at Colonus. • Mastered the skillful art of interweaving past events w/scenes of intense present conflict. • Formulated the choral ode “chorus”. Consisted of 12-15 members that represented a whole. (society…townspeople in Oedipus) Function of the Chorus • Always on stage, “all-knowning” • Set the tone • Gave background info to the audience • Recalled past events • Interpret and summarized events (pre/post) • Asked questions, offered advice • Stayed objective • Acted like a jury of elders or wise men Sophocles • Sophocles’ is known for asking philosophical questions throughout his writing about the limits of man’s power and ambition. • He uses a cast of vivid, dynamic characters. • His plots focus on the fortunes of individual heroes and heroines. • Constructed the Tragic Hero --YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS! – – – – Noble Status Inner nobility Free will Tragic Flaw Tragic Hero • Noble status —hero occupies a position of wealth, status, power in his/her society, royalty etc… • Inner nobility —hero exemplifies the traits of nobility and virtue as part of his innate character. The audience understands that he/she is not perfect, but greatness and virtue out weigh imperfections. They see a hero who is much like themselves. Tragic Hero • Free Will--the hero’s downfall is not a result of an accident or another’s villainy, but rather, an error in judgment or character flaw that is integral to the hero’s imperfection. HAMARTIA—an error in judgment or perception, the hero’s inability to see his flaw or to accurately foresee the consequences of his/her decisions or actions. • Tragic Flaw– the hero’s imperfection. Although he is great, he is not perfect. The audience is able to sympathize with the tragic hero as a person like them. Tragic Hero • The character’s fall is not looked at as a loss. There is some increase in awareness, a gain in self-knowledge, and a discovery on the part of the tragic hero that becomes a lesson to the audience. Thus, the character is defined as a HERO. Sophocles Sophocles is known for his use of Ambiguity: two or more meaning to a passage, word etc…making things unclear, uncertain and indefinite to the reader. (Vague) • Also known for his use of the 3 ironies: – Verbal—say one thing mean another – Situational—opposite of what is expected to happen – Dramatic—audience knows something important that the characters in the play, usual main, does not know.