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Influence of Ancient Greek Times
Influence of Ancient Greek Times
All through history the Greeks have influenced our lives in more ways than most people could imagine. To this day we use many ideas and ways of life that the Greeks used thousands of years ago. "Everywhere Greek traders went, they took Greek ideas with them. People throughout the ancient world were influenced by Greek thought and culture." "Their greatness was largely the result of achievements of their artists, scientists, and philosophers." The Greeks developed the study of many sciences, including geography, botany, zoology, and geometry. The Greeks also deeply influenced architecture, art, science, philosophy, literature, organized sports, and government. Throughout Ancient Greek times they went through many "ages". Including the golden age and the Renaissance, in these times they produced many great and important people and playwrights that would enhance the arts of drama forever.
For many centuries, Greece was the center of the ancient world. Their military was mighty but it was not the reason they acquired all their power. Their idea of government started when several of their cities became so powerful they needed an organized way to run them. They had city-states which included the city itself and the land and small villages around it. "Although they did not have one central government, the people of the Greek city-states had a deep national pride. The Greeks spoke the same language, shared the same customs, and believed in the same gods. They had a
deep love for their country and felt superior to the rest of the world. Most of the city-states built fleets of ships, and the Greeks became the most powerful traders in the Mediterranean making them over more brawny than before. Land owners, or nobles, gradually assumed more and more political power, this ended up charging the structure of government from monarchy to Oligarchy. The Greeks responded to this with growing demands for a voice from the government. Tyrants offered things to families in exchange for popular support. Their position was totally dependent upon the promises made to the people. The fact of government changed from oligarchy to democracy, a government that was perfected by the Greeks and is still in use today.
Of all the city-states, the two strongest were Sparta and Athens. Sparta was a military state. All the boys were trained to be soldiers, and all the children were taught to be physically tough. All men had to live in military barracks until they were thirty years old. Athens, on the other hand, became famous as an "artistic and cultural center." The architecture, drama, sculpture, and poetry produced in Athens are still admitted today. During the "Golden Age", Athens and other Greek cities produced their finest words or art. "It may be said that the cultural goal of that time was a combination of clarity simplicity, and proportion, motivated by high seriousness and dedicated to giving eternal validity to understanding of men and nature." Athenian culture reached its greatest time of development. This period is called the Age of Pericles, named the "brilliant statesman under whose guidance Athens flourished." Under his administration, the Acropolis was reconstructed after it being demolished by the Persians. In this period they made the Greek temples and civic buildings also. To recreate daily life, religion, and myth, sculpture and painting played a huge role.
The Greeks religion was polytheistic. Polytheistic means that the Greeks had many gods. The Gods of the Greeks were anthropomorphic, which meant that they
resembled man in appearance and character. They were superhuman in powers, but behaved as humans. It was easy to tell the difference between the more important gods and the not so important one because of the way they portrayed them. The way they worshipped their gods varied widely. "The adventures of the gods and their relationship with each other and with mortals formed a rich body of mythology. Delphi was the
holiest Greek city. It had a magnificent temple dedicated to the god Apollo and a famous oracle. Myth, in turn, became identified with spiritual and moral tenets, and functioned often to explain to the Greeks the phenomena of their physical world", such as fire and rain. Eventually, Greek drama came to have a religious function, and keeping with the function of the drama, myth was the suitable source for its plot and substance.
In Greek tragedy, suffering brought knowledge of worldly matters and of the individual. Aristotle attempted to explain how an audience could observe tragic events and still have a pleasurable experience. Aristotle, by searching the works of writers of Greek tragedy, Aeschulus, Euripides and Sophocles (whose Oedipus Rex he considered the finest of all Greek tragedies), arrived at his definition of tragedy. This explanation has a profound influence for more than twenty centuries on those writing tragedies, most significantly Shakespeare. Aristotle's analysis of tragedy began with a description of the effect such a work had on the audience as a "catharsis" or purging of the emotions. He decided that catharsis was the purging of two specific emotions, pity and fear. The hero has made a mistake due to ignorance, not because of wickedness or corruption. Aristotle used the word "hamartia", which is the "tragic flaw" or offense
committed in ignorance. For example, Oedipus is ignorant of his true parentage when he commits his fatal deed.
Oedipus Rex is one of the stories in a three-part myth called the Thebian cycle. The structure of most all Greek tragedies is similar to Oedipus Rex. "Such plays are divided in to five parts, the prologue or introduction, the "prados" or entrance of the chorus, four episode or acts separates from one another by "stasimons" or choral odes, and "exodos", the action after the last stasimon". These odes are lyric poetry, lines sung as the chorus moved rhythmically across the orchestra. The lines that accompanied the movement of the chorus in one direction were called "strophe"; the return movement was accompanied by lines called "antistrophe". The choral ode might contain more than one strophe or antistrophe.
Greek tragedy originated in honor of the god of wine, Dionysus, the patron god of tragedy. The performance took place in an open-air theater. The word tragedy is derived from the term "tragedia" or "goat-song", named for the goatskins the chorus wore in the performance. The plots came from legends of the Heroic Age. Tragedy grew from a choral lyric, as Aristotle said, "tragedy is largely based on life's pity and splendor".
The Father of the drama was Thesis. In 535 BC he created the first actor. The actor performed in intervals between the dancing of the chorus and conversing at times with the leader of the chorus. The tragedy was further developed when new myths became part of the performance, changing the nature of the chorus to a group appropriate to the individual story. A second actor was added by Aeschylus and
a third actor was added by Sophocles, and the number of the chorus was fixed at fifteen. The chorus' part was gradually reduced, and the dialogue of the actors became increasingly important.
The word "chorus" meant "dance or "dancing ground", which was how dance evolved into the drama. Members of the chorus were characters in the play who commented on the action. They drew the audience into the play and reflected the audience's reactions.
The Greek plays were performed in open-air theaters. Night scenes were performed even in sunlight. The area in front of the stages was called the "orchestra", the area in which the chorus moved and danced. There was no curtain and the play was presented as a whole with no act or scene divisions. "There was a building at the
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