Well seeing as there is an exam in Greek Tragedy tomorrow I figure now would be a great time to discuss my feelings about the stories we’ll be tested on.
We first peer into the wonderful world of the Oresteia. The Oresteia is the only tragedy trilogy to make it in near complete form from the time of the Greek’s to modern day humanity. Over two thousand years of wars, strife, theft, and natural disasters have been unable to destroy these unique looks into the very beginning of what became western literature and the dramatic medium.
The three plays of the Oresteia are Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Euminides.
Before beginning we’ll look back at Aristotles view of the Tragedy. Aristotle feels that Tragedy is the best form of Poetry, a monstrously persuasive entity that should produce two responses from its audience: Fear and Pity.
Now for the sake of the exam I’m going to go over in more detail the following in English (as opposed to collegese which drives me insane since its unnecessary). In any case where I use the word "I" it is meant to be Aristotle speaking.
So I was having a drink and realized that nobody had over analyzed poetry and all the different forms it takes. I figured the best option was to complicate my words in the greatest possible manner to make things seem deeper and more complex than they actually are.
Epic Poetry is the father of Tragedy, however Tragedy is the better of the two. Comedy likewise exists as the anti-matter to Tragedies matter. These + music are different forms of imitative art. There are three major ways to differentiate all these lovely little lasses: The Medium, The Objects, and the organization or tool of the Imitation. Each having their own distinct place, sort of like all those wonderful organs in your body.
The imitation is produced by rhythm, language, or ‘harmony’ either by themselves or together in a wonderful potluck.
With the wonderful world of music this is done by harmony and rhythm, in dancing you have simply rhythm alone (unless you count shoe squeaks), but there is another art. One that causes me to drunkenly giggle as I tickle myself, that is the art of that imitates through language alone: The tragedy.
OOC Note: For those that didn’t know poetry is a Latin word meaning "Making" so one would assume that a poet is a ‘maker’. It’s good to know because Aristotle talks about poets like most people talk about architects, which isn’t an unfair comparison.
Heck folks while I get another drop of wine I must say that there are even arts that use all three realms of imitation! Namely Dithyrambic and Nomic poetry! Likewise Comedy and Tragedy use all three. *hic* Ignoring what I said earlier. The first two examples use all these things in tandem, while the latter two examples use them each in turn.
*Walks in* Ah! Where was I. Part II Eh? So as I was saying. The objects imitating in these plays are obviously men, because women don’t know how to act, and we are given two choices for these men to imitate. They can either act as better than they truly are, or lesser than they truly are, acting as the same as they are isn’t really acting now is it. I thought so! This is how you can separate tragedy from comedy. Tragedies portray men as better than they are and Comedy portrays them as less than they are.
Oh my. So quickly do we move on to new parts. Well there is indeed a third important point to keep in mind when looking at these plays. The way we commit our imitations. With all other things being the same the special extra we can work with is narration. Homer had a pension for acting out someone other than himself, you can even be yourself, or have all your characters instead act out the things you’d have said right in front of you…in 3-D-D-D-D-D-D…
As I was saying. Sophocles is much like Homer, both imitating people as better than they are from another point of view. Much like Aristophanes…now you might be saying "But he writes comedies." To that I say "Quiet! Or I’ll make you get out of the pool!" Now we could start pointing fingers at who created the comedy, the tragedy, or the drama, or really anything else. But that doesn’t really matter because the only real evidence they use is language. I mean what I’m trying to say…stop moving…what I’m trying to say is that Poetry may have come from all these sources and maybe that’s why there are so many ways to imitate.
Oh yes. Part 4. Poetry seems to have gotten its legs from two sources, no really! These sources coming from man! As I imagine you figured since man is writing the poetry…but as I said before be quiet or leave. The thing that separates us from animals is our ability to imitate. *Eyes the Spider-Monkey raising its hand* Quiet You! We get great pleasure in imitating, seriously…it can get messy. Likewise humanity is driven naturally towards harmony and rhythm.
These wonderful little trinkets of man are what split off like so many sticks of string cheese into two distinct strands. Homer was the initial humor mill that gave birth to the Comedy. Likewise his gangster Greekness was the first to formulate tragedies structure. Seriously he was busy…nothing like my cousin Agethus, that guy does nothing. Like I said before, Epics came before Tragedies, but Tragedies pwn Epics to a level I can barely emphasize.
Also its important to remember that Aeschylus was the first thug to introduce a second actor. Then Sophocles said "Not on my Watch!" and added a third! There are tons of other things I could say but the booze will only last so long so…
Ha! You thought I was done. Comedy! Yes Comedy. It is the imitation of mans lesser form, now I’m not trying to be a prick, when I say lesser its not all bad. It is not that it is all bad, its more that while it conveys the nastier side of us, it does not in turn convey pain. This is important because without pain I mean…how would anyone get around to writing emo poetry? Point made.
Comedy suffered unlike Tragedy because nobody took the damn thing seriously. Because of this it hasn’t evolved like it should have. Epic Poetry however was also super serious and because of that it lead nicely into Tragedy.
Well we are passed halfway done. Which is good, I know I’m getting tired and I bet you feel the same. Tragedy is serious business, like I said before…but it requires stressing. Now to me it would appear that while men are super neat and they are necessary for a play, but the imitation done at the heart of a tragedy is the actions and not the actors. They cannot be a tragedy without an action but there can easily be one without an actor. Ah what an awesome play that would be indeed!
It would appear then that the plot is the most important aspect of the play. The actors come in second. The third is thought, or the elicitation of thought, or if I’m being really frisky the fact that the actions are being thoughtful and not meaningless. The fourth being the spoken word, it best be said because it needs to be said and be said correctly. Muha!
To be Continued in the morning… (It’s getting late :)) I hope you can keep your pants on!