The Effects of Greek Theatre on Women

Topics: Sparta, Ancient Greece, Tragedy Pages: 9 (3648 words) Published: October 17, 2013
Effect of Greek Theatre on Women
“Theatre is the art that shaped the Hellene culture, and that is the single most influential culture that shaped the world (Germal 57)”. The people of ancient Greece, known as the people Hellenes, were responsible for many firsts, theatre being among them. Theatre and other arts flourished in ancient Greece between 550 BCE and 220 BCE. Its geographic influence was momentous, spanning through parts of modern day Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Spain, and France. These productions were showcased and funded by the government, making them accessible to all citizens. This allows for an accurate portrayal of Greek culture due to the large amount of people that experienced it, as it was an integral part of their culture, with surviving evidence to draw conclusions on despite the fact that over a thousand years as passed. The theatres themselves can be said to be the beginnings of the theatre as we know it today. However, Greek theatres were very grandiose, seating anywhere between 15,000 to 20,000 people and this can be attributed to its widespread effect, as it was able to reach large amounts of people quickly. The ancient Greek theatre was used as a tool to present plays which helped develop their cultural identity. Today Greek theatre serves as a caricature of the culture of the Greeks by religious, cultural, and political means which shaped the course of women’s rights in history. Modern day theatre can be seen as having roots to Greek theatre. Tragedy, comedy, and satire are all prominent genres in modern theatre, which got their beginnings as the types of Greek plays. Robert Garland says “Athenians attributed the invention of theatre to a shadowy figure called Thespis, who is credited with having won first prize in the first contest for tragedy held in 534 B.C.E.”. Tragedy is the genre which chronicles the downfall of the protagonist who is a character of social importance. As Aristotle defines it in Poetics, “A tragedy is the imitation of an action that is serious in and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in appropriate and pleasurable language…in a dramatic rather than narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish a catharsis of these emotions”. .” This downfall usually is a product of a combination of hubris, fate, and intervention from higher powers such as the gods. The demise of the tragic hero is not necessary, but a metamorphosis of character or situation is needed. In addition, the tragic hero may achieve some revelation or recognition which is called anagnorisis, which centers on the fate and destiny of humans, and how all humans life is subjective to the will of the gods. Aristotle concisely labels this type recognition as, "a change from ignorance to awareness of a bond of love or hate." Despite the fact that tragedy’s source is unknown, it is commonly believed to have begun with the singing of a choral, this was called a dithyramb. These were sung in honor of Dionysus, a Greek god. Dionysus was the god of wine and fertility of nature which is essential to agriculture, and thus was he was held in high esteem for the agriculturally dependent Greeks. The dithyramb was performed in the orchestra which resembles an arena for dancing. It is theorized that tragedy was given its name from the small group of men that performed tragedies. These men wore goast skins to portray the satyr, the mythical half goat half man. Because of this it is surmised that the word tragedy is derived from the Greek word tragoedia, which means “goat song”. As theatre began to evolve, and thus the vocabulary did to as the meaning the meaning of the word dithyramb was modified to include to any mythological or heroic story, and that an actor was introduced to answer questions posed by the choral group. The Greek word for actor is hypokrites, which literally meaning the one who "answers." Tragedy underwent to major changes due to Aeschylus and Sophocles, both who added an...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Greek Theatre Essay
  • Impact of Roman & Greek Theatre Essay
  • The Art of Ancient Greek Theatre Essay
  • Greek Theatre Essay
  • Ancient Greek Theatre Essay
  • Greek Theatre Staging Essay
  • Greek Theatre Essay
  • Women in Theatre Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free