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23 terms

Vital Vocabulary - Greek Theater

STUDY
PLAY
anagnorisis
the point in a tragedy's plot at which the protagonist recognizes his/her true identity or discovers the true nature of his/her situation
apostrophe
directly addressing a person, place, thing, or abstraction, living, dead, or absent from the work.
catharsis
beneficial effect tragedy has on spectators; vicarious experience of fear and pity producing a feeling of emotional cleansing or purging
deus ex machina
Literally: the god from the machine. In ancient Greek & Roman plays, a "god" was mechanically lowered to the stage in order to resolve a mortal's problem.
tragic flaw
flaw, error or defect in the tragic hero which leads to the hero's downfall
hamartia
an error, mistake in judgment, or misstep through which the hero succumbs to misfortune; this error is not necessarily a flaw in character but it does move the character from happiness to misery
hubris
excessive pride, ambition, or overconfidence which results in the misfortune of the protagonist; leads to a break with moral law or decision to ignore a divine warning with catastrophic results
oracle
a prophet who divines the future; a prophecy, often obscure or allegorical, revealed by a priest or priestess, believed to be infallible; also a shrine where an oracular god is consulted, i.e. the oracle at Delphi
peripeteia
the reversal of fortune for the protagonist
stichomythia
a dialogue of short, direct statements in which characters exchange heated words
tragic hero
a character of noble stature who, by virtue of a tragic flaw and fate, suffers a fall from glory into suffering
catastrophe
in a tragedy, the final event of the dramatic action, usually extreme misfortune or utter ruin
pathos
one of the 3 appeals in a rhetorical argument; directed to arouse emotions, especially feelings of sympathetic pity or compassion; Greek tragedies are intended to evoke pathos in the audience
didactic
describes plays or stories intended to teach or to provide a moral lesson
in medias res
to begin in the middle, or mid-stream in the narrative
kommos
a lyrical exchange between the Chorus and an actor; example in Antigone: Episode 4
nemesis
the fate that cannot be escaped; contemporary view = one's greatest fear or enemy, often, in reality: oneself
rhetoric
the art of speaking or writing effectively; employs an argument intended to persuade
ethos
one of 3 appeals in a rhetorical argument; this appeal convinces because the speaker/writer is a trustworthy authority, one who deserves respect and can therefore persuade us to act/think in a certain manner
logos
one of 3 appeals in a rhetorical argument; this appeal convinces because the speaker/writer uses reason; the claims are effectively supported
strophe
first of a pair of "stanzas" in a choral ode; in Greek theater, the Chorus moves from right to left as they chant/sing the strophe
antistrophe
the responding stanza to the first strophe; in Greek theater, the Chorus moves in the opposite direction - from left to right - as the sing/chant the antistrophe; the pairs promote balance and equanimity
unities
from Plato's theory on tragedy: tragedy must exist in 1 setting, focus on 1 action, and occur within the span of 1 day; e.g. Medea, The Tempest