;Elements of Greek Tragedy; Literary Terms

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Last updated: May 3, 2019
tragedy
a drama that gives the audience an experience of catharsis. The protagonist, a person of nobility, must make a moral decision that influences the outcome of the play. The protagonist usually has a serious fault that leads to his downfall and death. The terror and pity felt by the audience produce catharsis, a cleansing or purifying of emotion. All ___________ is based on myth and history

the five elements of a typical tragedy
prologue, parados, episode, stasimon, and exodus

prologue
the opening scene in which the background of the story is established by a single actor or through dialogue between two actors

parados
the entrance of the chorus, usually chanting a lyric which bears some relation to the main theme of the play

episode
an incident in the course of the play performed by actors (not chorus members)

stasimon
the term for a choral ode, sung or chanted; the odes recited by the chorus alternated with the episodes

exodus
concluding portion of a tragedy; the final episode usually sung by the chorus as they exit

strophe and antistrophe
two different divisions of the chorus representing two different voices.

Strophe goes first.

hamartia
a tragic human flaw; the mistake or error that a tragic character commits and which accounts in part for his misfortunes

hubris
overweening pride or insolence that results in a misfortune of the protagonist of the tragedy. ________ leads the protagonist to break a moral law; he will attempt vainly to transcend normal limitations or ignore divine warning with calamitous results; placing one’s self equal to the gods

catharsis
the purpose of tragedy; a purification or purging of emotions

recognition (aka anagnorsis)
the incident in the plot in which the main character discovers some major piece of information that profoundly affects his actions

reversal (aka perepeteia)
a major incident in the complex plot of a tragedy which results from the recognition. a reversal of fortune for the character

catastrophe
the moment marking the protagonist’s failure, usually at the end of the drama.

fate
the supposed force, power, or plan which predetermines one’s destiny

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