- Greek Theatre
- Five Fascinating Facts about Aeschylus
- Five Fascinating Facts about Aeschylus – Interesting Literature
Roman tragedy, like Greek, was made up of spoken dialogue in iambic trimeters and musical portions called cantica q.
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In the time of Augustus the representatives of tragedy were Asinius Pollio, Varius, and Ovid; under Tiberius, Pomponius Secundus; under Nero and Vespasian, Curiatius Maternus, of whose works scarcely a line has been preserved. The only tragedies of Roman antiquity which we possess are those of the philosopher Seneca , which show great mastery of form and a fertile imagination, but suffer from an intolerable excess of rhetorical declamation. It is doubtful whether they were intended for the stage at all, and not rather for public recitation and for private reading.
Homer speaks sometimes of one, sometimes of several, but without any definite statement about either number, name, or descent. Hesiod makes them the daughters of Gaia Earth , sprung from the blood of the mutilated Uranus. Euripides is the earliest writer who fixes their number at three, and considerably later we find them with the names Allecto "She who rests not" , Tisiphone "Avenger of murder" , and Magaera "The jealous one.
They punish, without mercy, all violations of filial duty, or the claims of kinship, or the rites of hospitality ; murder, perjury, and like offences; in Homer even beggars have their Erinys. The punishment begins on earth and is continued after death. Thus they pursue Orestes and Alemaeon, who slew their mothers, and CEdipus for the murder of his father and marriage with his mother, without regard to the circumstances by which their offences were excused. Their principle is a simple one, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. For the punishment of the evil secures the well-being of the good, and by pursuing and destroying transgressors the Erinyes prove themselves benevolent and beneficent.
They were worshipped in Athens under the name of Semnai , and had a shrine on the Areopagus, and the hill of Colonus. Fresh water and black sheep were offered to them in sacrifice. The terrible picture drawn of them by Aeschylus in his Eumenides , as women like Gorgons, with snakes for hair, bloodshot eyes, grinding teeth, and long black robes with blood-red girdles, was softened down in later times. They appear as maidens of stern aspect, with snakes in their hair or round their girdles and arms, torches, scourges, or sickles in their hands, generally in the costume of huntresses, and sometimes with wings as a sign of the swiftness of their vengeance see cut.
They are generally represented as torturing the guilty in the world below, but as sometimes appearing on earth, to excite to crime and throw men into madness. DRAMA In Athens the production of plays was a state affair, not a private undertaking.
It formed a great part of the religious festival of the Dionysia, in which the drama took its rise see DIONYSIA ; and it was only at the greater Dionysia that pieces could be performed during the author's lifetime. The performances lasted three days, and took the form of musical contests, the competitors being three tragic poets with their tetralogies, and five comic poets with one piece each. The authority who superintended the whole was the archon, to whom the poets had to bring their plays for reading, and apply for a chorus.
If the pieces were accepted and the chorus granted, the citizens who were liable for the Choregia undertook at their own cost to practise and furnish for them one chorus each. The poets whose plays were accepted received an honorarium from the state. The state also supplied the regular number of actors, and made provision for the maintenance of order during the performances.
At the end of the performance a certain number of persons usually five , was chosen by lot from a committee nominated by the senate, to award the prizes Agonothetoe , and bound them by oath to give their judgment on the plays, the choregi, and the actors. The poet who won the first prize was presented with a crown in the presence of the assembled multitude-the highest distinction that used to be conferred on a dramatic author at Athens.
The victorious choregus also received a crown, with the permission to dedicate a votive offering to Dionysus. This was generally a tripod, which was set up either in the theatre, or in the temple of the deity, or in the " Street of Tripods," so named from this custom, an inscription being put on it recording the event fig. The actors in the successful play received prizes of money, besides the usual honoraria. From the time of Sophocles the actors in a play were three in number.
They had to represent all the parts, those of women included, which involved their changing their costume several times during the performance. The three actors were distinguished as Protagonistes, Deuteragonistes , and Tritagonistes , according to the importance of their parts.
If the piece required a fourth actor, which was seldom the case, the choregus had to provide one. The choregus had also to see to the position and equipment of the personoemutoe. In earlier times it is possible that the persons engaged in the representation did not make a business of their artp but performed gratuitously, as the poets down to the time of Sophocles appeared on the stage.
But the dramatic art gradually became a profession, requiring careful preparation, and winning general respect for its members as artists. The chief requirements for the profession were distinctness and correctness of pronunciation, especially in declamatory passages, and an unusual power of memory, as there was no prompter in a Greek theatre.
An actor had also to be thoroughly trained in singing, melodramatic action, dancing, and play of gesture. The latter was especially necessary, as the use of masks precluded all play of feature. The actors were, according to strict rule, assigned to the poets by lot; yet a poet generally had his special protagonistes , on whose peculiar gifts he had his eye in writing the dramatic pieces. The Athenian tragedies began to be known all over the Hellenic world as early as the time of Aeschylus. The first city, outside of Attica, that had a theatre was Syracuse, where Aesebylus brought out some of his own plays.
Scenic contests soon began to term part of the religious festivals in various Greek cities, and were celebrated in honour of other deities besides Dionysus. It was a habit of Alexander the Great to celebrate almost every considerable event with dramatic exhibitions, and after him this became the regular custom.
A considerable increase in the number of actors was one consequence of the new demand. The actors called themselves artists of Dionysus, and in the larger cities they formed permanent societies synodoi with special privileges, including exemption from military service, and security in person and property.
These companies had a regular organization, presided over by a priest of their patron-god Dionysus, annually elected from among their members. A treasurer and officers completed the staff. At the time of the festivals the societies sent out their members in groups of three actors, with a manager, and a flute-player, to the different cities.
This business was especially lively in Ionia and on the Euxine the societies of Teos, being the most distinguished. The same arrangement was adopted in Italy, and continued to exist under the Roman Empire.
Five Fascinating Facts about Aeschylus
It naturally excluded all play of feature, but the masks corresponded to the general types of character, as well as to the special types indicated by the requirements of the play. Certain conventionalities were observed in the colour of the hair. Goddesses and young persons had light hair, gods and persons of riper age, dark brown; aged persons, white; and the deities of the lower world, black. The height of the masks and top-knots varied with the age of the actors, and the parts they took. Their stature was considerably heightened in tragedies by the high boot see COTHURNUS , and the defects in oportion corrected by padding, and the use of a kind of gloves.
The conventionalities of costume, probably as fixed by Aeschylus, maintained themselves as long as Greek tragedies were performed at all. Men and women of high rank wore on the stage a variegated or richly embroidered long-sleeved chiton , reaching to the feet, and fastened with a girdle as high as the breast. The upper garment, whether himation or chlamys , was long and splendid, and often embroidered with gold.
Kings and queens had a purple train, and a white himation with a purple border; soothsayers, a netted upper garment reaching to the feet. Persons in misfortune, especially fugitives, appeared in soiled garments of grey, green, or blue; black was the symbol of mourning, and so on. In the Satyric Drama the costumes of the heroic characters resembled in all essentials what they wore in the tragedies, although, to suit the greater liveliness of the action, the chiton was shorter and the boot lower.
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In the Old Comedy the costumes were taken as nearly as possible from actual life, but in the Middle and New Comedy they were conventional. The men wore a white coat; youths, a purple one; slaves, a motley with mantle to match; cooks, an unbleached double mantle; peasants, a fur or shaggy coat, with wallet and staff; panders, a coloured coat and motley over-garment. Old women appeared in sky-blue or dark yellow, priestesses and maidens in white; courtesans, in motley colours, and so on.
The members of the chorus were masked and dressed in a costume corresponding to the part assigned them by the poet. The chorus of the comedy caricatured the ordinary dress of the tragic chorus. Sometimes they represented animals, as in the Frogs and Birds of Aristophanes. In the Frogs they wore tight dresses of frog-colour, and masks with a mouth wide open; in the Birds, large beaks, bunches of feathers, combs, and so on, to imitate particular birds.
See plate in Journal of Hellenic Studies , vol. Its origin may be traced back to Pratinas of Phlius about B. It is probable that, after settling in Athens, he adapted the old dithyramb with its chorus of Satyrs, which was customary in his native place, to the form of tragedy which had been recently invented in Athens. This new kind of drama met with so much approval, and was so much developed by Pratinas himself, as well as by his son Aristeas, by Cloerilus, by Aeschylus, and the dramatists who succeeded him, that it became the custom to act a satyric drama after a set of three tragedies.
The seriousness of the preceding plays was thus relieved, while the chorus of Satyrs and Sileni, the companions of Dionysus, served to indicate the original connexion between that divinity and the drama. The material for a satyric drama, like that for a tragedy, was taken from an epic or legendary story, and the action, which took place under an open sky, in a lonely wood, the haunt of the Satyrs, had generally an element of tragedy; but the characteristic solemnity and stateliness of tragedy was somewhat diminished, without in any way impairing the splendour of the tragic costume and the dignity of the heroes introduced.
The amusing effect of the play did not depend so much on the action itself, as was the case in comedy, but rather on the relation of the chorus to that action. That relation was in keeping with the wanton, saucy, and insolent, and at the same time cowardly, nature of the Satyrs. The number of persons in the chorus is not known, probably there were either twelve or fifteen, as in tragedy.
In accordance with the popular notions about the Satyrs, their costume consisted of the skin of a goat, deer, or panther, thrown over the naked body, and besides this a hideous mask and bristling hair. The dance of the chorus in the satyric drama was called sicinnis, and consisted of a fantastic kind of skipping and jumping. The only satyric play now extant is the Cyclops of Euripides. The Romans did not imitate this kind of drama in their literature, although, like the Greeks, they used to have merry after-pieces following their serious plays.
Five Fascinating Facts about Aeschylus – Interesting Literature
Aegyptus and his fifty sons drove Danaus and his fifty daughters from their home in the Egyptian Chemnis through Rhodes to Argos, the home of his ancestress Io see Io. Here he took over the kingdom from Pelasgus or Gelanor, and after him the Achaeans of Argos bore the name of Danai. Danaus built the acropolis of Larissa and the temple of the Lycian Apollo, and taught the inhabitants of the waterless territory how to dig wells.
His daughters also conferred benefits on the land by finding springs, especially Amymone, the beloved of Poseidon, who, for love ofher, created the inexhaustible fountain of Lerna. For this they were worshipped in Argos. The sons of Aegyptus at length appeared and forced Danaus to give them his daughters in marriage.