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a literary work with two or more levels of meaning - a literal level and one or more symbolic levels


a reference to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art


a literary work, especially a play, which is light, often humerous or satirical, and ends happily

epic conventions

traditional characteristics of epic poems, including the the opening statement of the theme; includes invocation, epic similes, stock epithets, in medias res

epic simile

elaborate, extended comparisons using "like" or "as"

extended metaphor

a subject is spoken or written of as though it were something else; several connected comparisons are made


a scene within a story that interrupts the sequence of events to relate events that occurred in the past

homeric simile

a simile developed over several lines of verse, esp. one used in an epic poem.

in medias res

starting a story "in the middle of things"


appeal for supernatural help in telling the story

irony (dramatic)

the audience is aware of something that the character or speaker is not

metrical structure

the use of a conventional predictable structure that gives a work rhapsody and cadence


where the actors perform


a statement that seems to be contradictory but actually presents a truth


a type of figurative language in which a nonhuman subject is given human characteristics


"Singer of tales" Historians and entertainers as well as the myth-makers of their time.

stock epithet

a descriptive adjective or phrase that is repeatedly used with, or in place of, a name.


a type of serious drama that usually ends in disaster for the main character

tragic flaw

the character flaw or error of a tragic hero that leads to his downfall

tragic hero

A literary character who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw that, combined with fate and external forces, brings on a tragedy.


an open-air venue for spectator sports, concerts, rallies, or theatrical performances. dramas in the time period always took place here.


a moment in a play or other work when a character makes a critical discovery

deus ex machina

"God from the machine"; as a plot device, a previously intractable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with a contrived introduction of a new character, ability, or object


a termed developed by Aristotle which can simply be seen as a character's flaw or error


extreme haughtiness or arrogance; often indicates a loss of touch with reality and overestimating one's own competence or capabilities, especially for people in positions of power


joseph campbell's term for the hero's journey; the mundane world, the call to adventure, crossing the threshold, the path of trials, the master of two worlds


an agent or act of retribution or punishment


a reversal of circumstances, or turning point


where the carved out scene would rest against the wall


where the actors would change costumes


where the audience would sit


where sacrifices to Dionysus would take place


where only the chorus would enter and exit

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