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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


directly addressing a person, place, thing, or abstraction, living, dead, or absent from the work.


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


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


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


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


the reversal of fortune for the protagonist


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


in a tragedy, the final event of the dramatic action, usually extreme misfortune or utter ruin


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


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


a lyrical exchange between the Chorus and an actor; example in Antigone: Episode 4


the fate that cannot be escaped; contemporary view = one's greatest fear or enemy, often, in reality: oneself


the art of speaking or writing effectively; employs an argument intended to persuade


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


one of 3 appeals in a rhetorical argument; this appeal convinces because the speaker/writer uses reason; the claims are effectively supported


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


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


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

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