Jun 30, 2015

Greek Tragedy: A Political Event

For one to better understand what a Tragedy is, it’s fundamental that they become more accustomed to the era it became popular in. Athens in the past had gone through a lot and during the 5th century BC its citizens felt that the much disserved peace and stability were finally there. But dangers were unfortunately just around the corner from every direction, and Athenians knew that well.

In a theater like Dionysus, on the foot of the Acropolis hill, around 17,000 people gathered for an all day celebration of the God of Drama and Wine. During the day comedies and Tragedies were presented that aimed to entertain, but also, to stand out from all the rest. That ultimately made Comedies more vulgar and funny and Tragedies more epic and serious.

Set in the Mythical past, with references to humane Gods, the theater in general used metaphors to discuss -or set a social issue- about the then current political and cultural life in Athens, but also about its effects on other cities. Either through a heavy entertaining comedy or a subtly educational tragedy, the writer voiced his concerns and many times promoted his solution through the use of the play.

The public either loved them or hated them, for raising concerns about morality, mortality, power, finance and ethics. Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, but also Aristophanes were more than writers, they were political players and agenda setters. It’s not difficult to understand why so many Ancient Theaters are found around Greece. They’re most likely located close to the political epicentre of a city state of ancient times.

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