Greek vs. Roman Theatre

Best Essays
Historic playwrights such as Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, and Seneca were described as prolific philosophers and geniuses of their times. These men actively participated in the politics surrounding them, and were respected and revered in their society. Each had their own individual style and portrayed their personalities through each of their noted works. Nevertheless, as with a majority of playwrights throughout history, most fodder for their plays have been adaptations of previous plays written by their predecessors or based off mythological events. Unfortunately, this had lead to many speculative accusations and criticisms, as is the case with Senecan tragedies versus their Greek counterparts. Senecan and Greek interpretations of the plays Oedipus, Agamemnon, and Medea bear similar themes, being the inescapability of fate and dikê, and the lack of clarity between right and wrong. Nevertheless, they differ culturally, politically, and philosophically due to the differences in society as well as the eras in which the writing of these plays took place. Culturally, Greek and Roman theatre vary in a multitude of ways. Firstly, a major difference is the role of actor within their cultures. The introduction of the actor sparked the creation of tragedy, because of the ability to have back-and-forth discussions. Within Greek culture, to be an actor was a most honourable position as they were considered as icons because “the good actor, who rises to the challenge of providing a good and consistent performance, can be a model for how to live” (Easterling 382). In contrast, within Roman culture, the actors’ conditions were mean and contemptible (Theatrehistory). A secondary difference is the amount of actors used by Seneca and his Greek counterparts. Seneca stressed the importance of consistency of character stating, “It is a great thing to play the role of one man” (Easterling 382), suggesting that he seems to disapprove of those who play multiple parts. This is


Bibliography: Bellinger, Martha F. "The Ignoble Position of Roman Actors." TheatreHistory.com. Web. 14 Nov. 2010. <http://www.theatrehistory.com/ancient/bellinger001.html>. Bispham, Edward, Thomas J. Harrison, and Brian A. Sparkes, eds. The Edinburgh Companion to Ancient Greece and Rome. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2006. Print. Calder, William Musgrave., and R. Scott. Smith. Theatrokratia: Collected Papers on the Politics and Staging of Greco-Roman Tragedy. Hildesheim [u.a.: Olms, 2006. Print. Easterling, P. E., and Edith Hall, eds. Greek and Roman Actors: Aspects of an Ancient Profession. Cambridge, UK [etc.: Cambridge UP, 2002. Print. Euripides, and Peter Elmsley. Medea: Euripides. Hildesheim: G.Olms, 1967. Print. Gill, N.s. "Seneca - A Thinker for Our Times." Ancient / Classical History - Ancient Greece & Rome & Classics Research Guide. Web. 02 Nov. 2010. <http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/seneca/a/Seneca.htm>. Hall, Edith. "Aeschylus’ Clytemnestra versus Her Senecan Tradition." RHUL. Web. 20 Nov. 2010. <http://www.rhul.ac.uk/research/crgr/files/papers/agamemnon.pdf>. Hayes, David C. "Medea: Seneca Vs. Euripedes, Page 2 of 3." Associated Content from Yahoo! - Associatedcontent.com. 10 Apr. 2005. Web. 20 Nov. 2010. <http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1138/medea_seneca_vs_euripedes_pg2.html? cat=38>. "NovelGuide: Agamemnon: Essay Q&A." Novelguide: Free Study Guides, Free Book Summaries, Free Book Notes, & More. Web. 20 Nov. 2010. <http://www.novelguide.com/Agamemnon/essayquestions.html>. Seneca, Lucius Annaeus. Oedipus - Agamemnon. Trans. John G. Fitch. Seneca in Nine Volumes, [vol.] IX: Tragedies II. Vol. 9. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1987. 3-126. Print. Ser. 2. Wiles, David. The Masks of Menander: Sign and Meaning in Greek and Roman Performance. Cambridge [England: Cambridge UP, 1991. Print.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Sophocles was one of the playwrights within 430BCE. Sophocles wrote approximately 120 plays in total however, only 7 survived, one in which is the Greek tragedy ‘Oedipus’. ‘Oedipus’ is considered to be Sophocles’ ‘masterpiece’. Sophocles writes upon personal and complex themes, in which represent things which happen in everyday life, we can see this within ‘Oedipus’, when it is mentioned ‘And to our suffering…

    • 886 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    10A4 Unit Activity

    • 1126 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Drama is one of the major genres of ancient Greek literature. Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides were three of the earliest Greek playwrights who wrote tragedies. Sophocles was born in Colonus, a village near Athens, in 495 b.c. He was a renowned dramatist and won many play-writing competitions in Athens, often defeating his contemporaries Aeschylus and Euripides. Your first task is to read Antigone, one of Sophocles's most famous surviving tragedies. After you have read Antigone, answer these questions.…

    • 1126 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    In Greek theatre the success of a tragedy was determined a set of distinct principles unique to the Greek outlined by Aristotle. Since Geek drama is based on famous mythical lore, the element of surprise in a play is minimal, ignorable, unlike contemporary drama with their heart-wrenching plot twists. As a result, the success of the play was largely determined by the plot development of the tragedy. While Aristotle stated that a successful work must have a wholesome plot, ranking the plot as the most important criterion, the role of character development in the Sophoclean tragedies is remarkably significant because not only does it advance the plot, it is also a crucial element for the audience to experience the catharses emphasized by ancient Greek drama. In the case of Antigone, Sophocles was able to masterfully formulate his characters in the play which contributed greatly to the play’s reputation as a famous tragedy. While there are many ways a character can be developed, Sophocles portrays the characters through dialogues in Antigone. For example, Antigone and Creon fully establish their personalities and occasionally reveal their changes in character through their specific word choice and tones in their dialogue (with each other).…

    • 1391 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Breu ,Marcus Liam . (2005). “Greek theatre challenges modern audiences?. Available: https://www.fictionpress.com/s/2064281/1/Greek-theatre-challenges-modern-audiences. [Accessed 1st Oct 2014].…

    • 958 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Theban Trilogy

    • 673 Words
    • 3 Pages

    The Oedipus plays have many things in common. Characters, metaphors, and the gods affect on the peoples daily lives. Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone all base themselves around prophecy; the undeniable god said future that the greeks believed above all else.…

    • 673 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Cloudstreet

    • 615 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Have you ever wondered where the origins of theatre began? It is a well-known fact that the earliest forms of drama were developed in Ancient Greek by philosophers interested in using entertainment for social and philosophical commentary. It is essential that young people are exposed to the earliest form of scripted drama as it provides a foundation for understanding dramatic styles and conventions which are the basis for all the theatre which followed.…

    • 615 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Cited: Euripides. "Medea." The Norton Anthology off Western Literature. Eight Edition. Ed. Lawall, Sarah. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006…

    • 1214 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Theatre represented a culture and values found in Greek society. Theatre was also a way for…

    • 782 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    As a people we have evolved tenfold from early civilization. We have broken boundaries in almost every aspect of living. From the modifications of cars, to the effortless use of technology, we have created what seems to be a legacy of great achievement and we can only move forward from here on out.…

    • 1514 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    In ancient Greek literature, there are two types of drama’s. There was the comedic drama, and the tragic drama. The difference between these two dramas would be decided by the fate of the hero at the sisation of the play. Tragedy being the most popular, was the biggest part of Greek society. This is proven by all of the plays, stories, and works the Greeks created concerning this topic. Tragic plays were so heavily conducted that all of them began to share common traits. These similarities are present in two of the most popular Greek tragedies, Oedipus the King and Medea. Both Oedipus the King and Medea have the protagonist’s exhibit excessive stubbornness and steadfastness in their stories which ultimately leads to their downfall.…

    • 997 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    In the study of Greek plays, one tries to recreate for an experience, to recapture something of what is meant to those for whom it was written. We know more about the life of Sophocles than we know do about the lives of any other Greek playwright, but this still is not a lot. Sophocles’ work has been said to be the pinnacle of Greek tragedy. Oedipus the King is something like the literary Mona Lisa of ancient Greece. It presents a nightmare vision of a world turned upside down; a decent man, Oedipus, becomes the king of Thebes, whilst in the process unknowingly fulfilling a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. As scholars, we are bound to relate this story through history, to ask what the writer really meant, how…

    • 869 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    The theater and all it encompassed played an integral role in the lives of the ancient Greeks. From the architecture and costumes, to the mask, the art of the theater was a feast for the senses and inspired artists to recreate what was seen on stage on more permanent media, thus enriching the lives of future generations. It is believed that theater began as a religious experience in order to honor the gods. Drama developed out of choral dances for Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, fertility and revelry, in Athens in the mid-sixth century BCE, inaugurating the earliest vase-paintings of ancient Greek performance (Hart 1). In 534 BCE the first tragedy took place with comedy following suit around fifty years later. According to Aristotle, Thespis was the first person to appear onstage as someone other than himself, thus the term “Thespian” was most likely created to denote actors. From the performances of plays from such notable authors as Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes and Menander a collection of some of the most beautiful and historic art sprang forth.…

    • 1317 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Antigone

    • 2467 Words
    • 10 Pages

    The ineffaceable impression which Sophocles makes on us today and his imperishable position in the literature of the world are both due to his character-drawing. If we ask which of the men and women of Greek tragedy have an independent life in the imagination apart from the stage and from the actual plot in which they appear, we must answer, ‘those created by Sophocles, above all others’ (36).…

    • 2467 Words
    • 10 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Greek theater took great advantage of the natural surroundings, a great theater design, and technologically advanced props and equipment. The Theater itself consisted of 4 parts, the Orchestra, the Skene, the theatron, and the paradoi. Technologically advanced equipment such as the machina, or the ekeclema gave the greek theater an air of believability. Oedipus took advantage of many of these aspects of the theater, and used them to a great advantage.…

    • 521 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Love and Callisto

    • 2807 Words
    • 12 Pages

    Bibliography: Euripides, Medea and Other Plays, in Davie, J. (trans.); Rutherford, R. (introduction and notes), (2003[1996]), London, Penguin Books.…

    • 2807 Words
    • 12 Pages
    Powerful Essays