In Classical Greek drama, the existence of a Chorus strikes the modern audience as odd. Why is there a Chorus? What role does it play? Where did the Chorus come from? The origin of the word "khoros" is cloaked in mystery, however it has been suggested by modern scholars that the word references an open dance … Continue reading What is the Chorus in Greek Tragedy?
While many other Greek tragedies tend to reiterate already established myths and customs, Euripides's Orestes appears to be entirely his own invention. Chronologically, the plot of the play takes place after the events contained in Aeschylus's Libation Bearers. It was first performed in 408 BC, near the close of the Peloponnesian War. In Orestes, Electra recounts the story … Continue reading The Failure of Orestes
Known in Latin as the Troades, Euripides's The Trojan Women was said by Aelian's Varia Historica (published in the third century A.D.) to have been performed for the first time in 415 BC at the 91st Olympiad. Ultimately, he won second place, losing to Xenocles, a now lost Athenian tragedian. The Trojan Women was part three of a group of three tragedies … Continue reading Brief Thoughts on The Trojan Women
It has been suggested that Euripides is obsessed with character, but that he is indifferent to plot. Each one of his tragedies might be said to be a character study into the pure hopelessness faced by human beings. The Andromache is an unusual play for a number of reasons. The unnamed Scholiast, a latter Byzantine, reports that … Continue reading Thoughts on Andromache
There is a rigorous debate among scholars that has perpetuated for hundreds of years, dating back to Aristotle, about whether or not the purpose, or telos, of a tragedy is to determine a particular character flaw of the central protagonist. That is, to inquire about whether or not Oedipus is, indeed, a flawed human being who has, somehow, … Continue reading Aristotle, Oedipus, and Greek Tragedy
Agamemnon, the first play of the Oresteia trilogy begins much like other great plays, such as Hamlet, on the walls of the city with a a lone watchman who bemoans the state of affairs, waiting for a light showing that Agamemnon, his king, is returning home from the Trojan War. Upon spotting the foreboding beacon, he … Continue reading Thoughts on Aeschylus
In Aeschylus's The Libation Bearers, we are first introduced to Orestes, the son of the late and betrayed Agamemnon. He appears, hidden, before the grave of his father as his sister Electra is making libations in her father's honor. This second part of the trilogy takes place an unknown number of years after the murder … Continue reading The Oresteia: An Affirmation of the Noble Lie
The central dialectic of the first part of Aeschylus's famous trilogy occurs between the infamous Clytemnestra, a queen rivaled only by Lady Macbeth, and the Chorus of older men of the city of Mycenea. Both are skeptical of each others' motivations and ambitions. In considering an historical example, recall the feud between King John of Lackland … Continue reading Dialectic in Agamemnon