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Ancient Greek Theater

Poets Of Greek Theater

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Written As It Had Been Told!

                                  

Poets:  Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides

 

Aeschylus the earliest of the three poets won first prize in the great Dionysia thirteen times.  He wrote about ninety plays however only seven of them are extant. His best in show was the Oresteia,this became the only one trilogy that survived and even here the satyr-play no longer exists. The framing plot evolves from Troy of the Greek King Agamemnon, who had sinned by giving up his daughter to gain military stamina: his murder by his vengeful and adulterous wife Clymnestra and the aftermath of the killing.

 

Sophocles the most fruitful of the great tragedians wrote about 125 plays however only seven of them survived.  Athenians awarded him first prize twenty-four times making him a very popular poet amongst the Athenians.   Sophocles’ Antigone expressed beautifully the principles of Tragedy Theater. The simple plot explains the strife between King Creon and his young family member Antigone. The play explored whether human law should be put before divine law. Antigone’s two brothers have killed each other in a dispute over the Theban head jewels.  The play goes on with strife over where the two brothers burial, between Creaon and Antigones. She goes against his ruling and buries one of her brothers with a religious burial.  Antigone is then arrested and hangs herself while imprisoned. Creaons wife and son end up killing themselves and he can not bear the guilt so he gives up the throne.

 

Euripides was writing for the stage while Athens battled the Peloponnesian war.  Euripides plays expressed the later years of struggle by presenting myths and legends in his plays. These plays expressed the foolishness of some popular beliefs and sometimes the emptiness of modern values.  When he staged the Trojan Woman the Athenians were amazed with the parallel between the enslavement of the woman of Troy after the Greeks destroyed their home land and the fate of the women of Melos which Athens had just subjugated.  Of the ninety or more tragedies he wrote 18 survived and he was awarded first prize by the Athenians only five times.