Someone recently bought our

students are currently browsing our notes.

X

Greek Tragedy Notes

Classics Notes > Greek Tragedy Notes

This is an extract of our Greek Tragedy document, which we sell as part of our Greek Tragedy Notes collection written by the top tier of University Of Oxford students.

The following is a more accessble plain text extract of the PDF sample above, taken from our Greek Tragedy Notes. Due to the challenges of extracting text from PDFs, it will have odd formatting:

Tragedy Revision May 2015

May 2015

Contents of this document EXAM INFORMATION..........................................................................3 STRUCTURE OF PAPER............................................................................................. 3 EXAMINERS' REPORTS............................................................................................ 3 SET TEXTS........................................................................................................... 3 LANGUAGE AND STAGE-ACTION IN THE ORESTEIA................................4 CAUSATION.......................................................................................9 MEDEA: CHARACTERISATION............................................................13 TRAGEDY AND ATHENS.....................................................................18 THE CHORUS...................................................................................22 ELECTRA PLAYS...............................................................................28 TIME...............................................................................................34 ION AND HELEN...............................................................................39 CHARACTERISATION........................................................................44 REPERFORMANCE............................................................................48 SOPHOCLES AND EURIPIDES............................................................54 SYNOPSES OF PLAYS.......................................................................60 AGAMEMNON...................................................................................................... 60 CHOEPHOROI...................................................................................................... 61 EUMENIDES........................................................................................................ 62 MEDEA.............................................................................................................. 63 OEDIPUS TYRANNUS............................................................................................. 64 OEDIPUS AT COLONUS.......................................................................................... 66 SOPHOCLES' ELECTRA.......................................................................................... 67 EURIPIDES' ELECTRA............................................................................................ 67 ION................................................................................................................... 68 HELEN............................................................................................................... 71 IPHIGENIA AT TAURIS........................................................................................... 73 COMMENTARIES..............................................................................74

2 May 2015

Exam information Structure of paper 3 hours:

1. Compulsory translation and commentary

2. 2 more commentaries (choice of 3, one from each play)

3. 2 essays (choice of 6) Timings: 20 mins per commentary/translation, 45 mins per essay.

Examiners' Reports-Good to bring in knowledge from plays off syllabus, non-tragic texts also welcome Could be more thought about primary set-up of drama o No authorial voice o Past directly in front of audience o Mind of characters not directly accessible Very weak translation of the Agamemnon...
Many candidates had universal ignorance of even basic forms of metre Commentaries: o Not enough attention paid to form, metre, staging, style. o Too much paraphrase. Thematic discussion generally good. o Unfamiliarity with text meant too many characters just picked out words/themes & discussed with reference to elsewhere in play o Must talk about detail of passage, don't drift away into generalities o Distinguish between different focalisations in passage Essays: o Weaker essays tend to run through plays for examples, just cataloguing features across plays without sufficient probing or argument o Stronger answers engaged with presupposition behind the questions, made more creative/searching use of texts

Set texts Alpha texts Aeschylus, Agamemnon (set text: OCT Page) Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus (set text: OCT Lloyd-Jones/Wilson) Euripides, Medea (set text: OCT Diggle). Beta texts Aeschylus, Choephori, Eumenides Sophocles, Electra, Oedipus Coloneus Euripides, Electra, Helen, Ion Aristophanes, Frogs

3 May 2015

4 May 2015

Language and stage-action in the Oresteia Language in the Oresteia
- Elaborate network of image and metaphor: associative, recurrent o Bind plays together o Add layers of meaning to action
- Aeschylean style of writing v dense, esp. in lyric passages o Add poetic grandeur o Allows compression of great number of related images into small amount of words o Many phrases can be interpreted in different ways - ambiguity of language has effect of allowing words to connect into multiple motifs
- Important motifs:
? Sacrifice
? Net
? Justice
? Hunting
? Light and darkness
? House
? Sickness/healing
? Power of manipulative persuasion Sacrifice
- One of most important motifs in Oresteia
- Sacrifice of Iphigenia looms over all events of play
- Sacrificial motif build up in choral parados through 3 mentions - if each element taken on own, sacrificial element is only one of many themes one could point to o Together they start to draw an associative web o Lead up to sacrifice of Iphigenia at 192ff, which is described in much greater detail (though moment of death left off) o Then used throughout play, particularly in reference to various murders (Thyestes' children, Iphigenia, Agamemnon, Cassandra)
- 1. Choral parados: entry into battle described with word proteleia
(65) o Proteleia = preliminary rites to a sacrifice o Normally found in auspicious setting of wedding o Jars with actual context of war/death o Implies deaths at Troy were only preliminary to another event, left unstated (fall of Troy? death of Agamemnon?)
- 2. Clytaemnestra makes sacrifices after hearing news of Troy's capture o Chorus ask her why (86-7); she convinces it's for good news o By end of play we wonder if this was what sacrifice was about... (or earlier, if you knew story)

5 May 2015

Basic story probably known, but what's perhaps new is that Clytaemnestra does killing, not Aegisthus

3. Choral description of Aulis (114ff): omen of 2 eagles (one black, one white in hind parts) that kill a hare pregnant with offspring (boskomenoi laginan erikumona phermati gennan) o Calchas interprets in ambiguous way - symbolises two Atreidae destroying Troy o Also sees it as sacrifice as sorts - hopes Artemis won't demand another sacrifice (speudomena thusian eteran), angry pregnant hare killed o Boskomenoi reminiscent of feasting that occurs after sacrifice made
? Actual sacrifice of Iphigenia o Probably where you realise sacrifice is a theme?
o Intrinsically shocking - important to distinguish between normal & abnormal sacrifice o Much sacrificial vocab, including repetition of word proteleia
? Her sacrifice becomes preliminary ritual for ship to set off
? Word also hints at tradition of deceit that Iphigenia was told she was going to Aulis to marry Achilles, not become sacrifice herself
? Word can also be linked to another theme, disastrous marriage, along with all mentions of Helen/destruction she causes, failure of marriage between Agamemnon/Clyt.
? Also veil - turns happy imagery ? sad event Later, Clytaemnestra tries to persuade Cassandra to come into house on pretext of inviting her to partake in a sacrifice o "Zeus...has enabled you to share the lustral water (xernibon) of this house" o Cassandra doesn't reply, refuses to come in
? Usually seers not characters in Gk tragedy - default assumption that Cassandra is mute character when she comes on o Later visions suggest even here she realises the sacrifice Clytaemnestra is inviting her to is her own murder o Xernibon (lustral water used for purification before sacrifice) is also proleptic as alluses to bath Agamemnon will have before his murder Cassandra later talks of death of Thyestes' children as a sacrifice (klaiomena tade brephi sphagas) o Fact father eats them connects to feast of cooked meat after sacrifice Cassandra continues to describe Agamemnon's murder as thumatos
leusimou (a sacrifice worth a stoning) in a lebitos (a ritual basin)---

6 May 2015When she walks to house, chorus ask her why she walks bold towards it, like an "ox driven by god to the altar" (theilatou boos
dikin pros bomon) Murder of Agamemnon o Clytaemnestra describes as ekphusion okseian aimatos sphagin
"gasping forth the sacrificial offering of his blood" o Chorus asks why Clyt brought tode thuos onto herself

Effect of sacrifice-theme
- Clearly a recurrent motif
- On basic level, it links 4 murders together, encourages audience to see causal links between them, picking out cycle of revenge that forms basis of play:

1. Thyestes children

2. Iphigenia

3. Agamemnon

4. Cassandra o Continues into next play: Erinyes demand sacrifice of Orestes
- These murders all impious in some way, use of pious sacrificial language in contexts where impious deeds are beeing done draws attention to sacrilege, the breakdown in relations between humans/gods o Eating of Thyestes' children = parody of the communal meal after a sacrifice; describing as sacrifice highlights how far it is from normal ritual of Greek society o Clytaemnestra gloating in "libations" caused by Agamemnon's blood spurting out could also be described as parodic
? Particularly horrifice by its evocation of 244, where Agamemnon mixed libations as Iphigenia sang paean
- Zeitlin argues theme should be known as of 'corrupted sacrifice' o One way that Aeschylus shows out-of-place situation of Agamemnon that's put to rights over course of trilogy o Connected to recurring motif of disease/healing
- Or abnormal because mixed up with hunting?
o Normally hunting for wild animals, sacrifice of tame animals (who give assent), here two motifs blended contributes to abnormality o Basically shouldn't separate each motif off in isolation from other patterns of language that permeate plays
- End of Eumenides some normal order restored when Erinyes/Eumenides lose their associations with hunting & sacrifice of raw/pure products ? become protectors of agriculture &
husbandry o Orestes loses animal-like status as hunted quarry & sacrificial victim o Movement towards resolution/normality in imagery applies to many of the image themes

7

Buy the full version of these notes or essay plans and more in our Greek Tragedy Notes.