Mysteries and tragedies have always been one of my favorite readings. Anytime I pick up a book about a full of suspense, mystery, or tragedy, it is well known that I will not drop that book until I have finished reading the story. Which is why it is not surprising that my favorite section of this course was the Ancient Athena Drama. Our literature book states that this is actually pretty common, most modern readers usually find Athenian drama very easy to appreciate. They easily capture their audience because the tragedies that Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides wrote have compelling stories about human relationships, these stories that provide us with suspenseful events, and lead us to an end that isn’t always the expected, happily ever after. As we read we envelope ourselves in the tragic events that the characters strive through, the story captivates us with the twist and turns until we get the unexpected ending. This is why it is very hard to stop reading, because we are anxious to know what is coming next. It is just like watching one episode of “Breaking bad” and wanting to keep watching and watching until the season is over. The melodramatic and many time violent plots invite us to profound issues, such as the nature of injustice, the meaning of suffering, and the clashes between family and state and between humane and divine perspectives.
However, the original performance that the Greek drama involved was very different from what we get to experience now. The place where the comedies and tragedies were first performed was the city festivals of Athens. In modern times we would never dare to compare theatre with politics, religion yet Greek drama was used to compare politics and religion. Another big difference in today’s world from Greek drama that I noticed is the way they performed their drama, they would perform it out in open- air spectacles, where we mostly always see our theatre played out indoors. We know very little about the origins of tragedy or comedy. Comedy comes from komos, a Greek word denoting a drunken procession. According to Aristotle, tragedy means a “goat song” and suggests that the genre originated as a part of a ritual in which a goat was sacrificed or offered as a prize. When the first entertainment of Greek drama began it was mostly choruses of dancers, who sang hymns and competed for prizes; later the tragedy and comedy came in to place. Tragedy was said to be invented by Thespis in the year 534 B.C.E. Tragedy was brought into light in the late sixth century, but poetry had long been a part of the Athenian culture.
Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey, and Homer’s poems were the essential model for later drama. Aeschylus himself called his own work “slices from the feast of Homer”. Not many of the Greek drama works survived just small selections of the tragedies Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, and a few comedies by Aristophanes. One thing that I found very interesting about Greek drama was that the prizes in the theatre were not awarded to the writers; they were awarded to the directors, who coached the actors and dancers. A very popular theatre was Dionysus, it held at least 13, 000 people, perhaps as many as 17, 000; a number comparable to the Madison Square Garden. The majority of the audience was male citizens and this changed from century to century. I imagine the seating to be very similar to that of, “The