LITR 4370 Tragedy
lecture notes
Spring 2017

Mourning Becomes Electra (1947 film)

Introduction to Greek Theater

Greek theater masks

masks in Oresteia


The Furies (1950 film)




Birth of Tragedy presentation

review assignment

"open to questions"--discuss difficulty of reading

not to make you feel dumb, though I'm always humbled, how little I remember (have to start over)

critical exercise, stretches your mind, does no harm

use glossary, my notes?


preview: this chapter on Apolline / Dionysiac in nature, how they naturally occur in human mind, perception, society

chapter 2 (Monday): the Apolline / Dionysiac in art (esp. Greek tragedy)



Question: What learning about Apolline & Dionysiac? Potential usefulness or attractiveness as learning?

How explain to someone else? What metaphors or analogies?

How does Apolline / Dionysiac appear in nature?





1a. What does the trilogy achieve in terms of civilization? If the Furies or Vengeful Ones are changed into Eumenides or Kindly Ones, what progress has been made?

Consider: revenge culture > peace and prosperity? [Ag 1772, 1803-4] civilization creates institutions & practices like courts that mitigate extremes, balances interests, compromise conflicting values, make restitution (revenge culture is Dionysiac? Judicial culture Apolline?)


4. Uses or repression of spectacle?

1580-90 screams, etc

1621 palace doors open

Aristotle's Poetics VI)

Ag 1620;

LB 1140+;

Eu 45, 1260


4. How may the initial appearance by the guard be potentially comical? (See comedy; wit & humor; comic theory)

l. 5  just like a dog.

l. 48 a great ox stands on my tongue





Libation Bearers

Justify Electra Complex > Homecoming, 1930s Freud popular

Recognitions scene [preview Oedipus]

you have to honor the gods, but revelation can be interpreted

plot as soul of tragedy; plot as ceremony / sacrifice / ritual [narrative]


280 + recognition scene

340 commanded by gods, Orestes becomes inhuman; cf. Agamemnon and Iphigenia Agamemnon line 254

1080 [Aegisthus screams in pain from inside the palace]        [spectacle repressed]

1107 [The palace doors open to reveal the dead body of Aegisthus with Orestes standing over it. Pylades (Orestes’s friend) is beside Orestes] [<spectacle]

CLYTAEMNESTRA:  No, not Aegisthus,
not my love, my power . . . dead.                                     1110

ORESTES: You loved this man?

1214 [The palace doors are thrown open, revealing Orestes standing above the bodies of  Aegisthus and Clytaemnestra. Pylades stands beside Orestes. With them are attendants holding the bloodstained robes of Agamemnon] [spectacle]

1223 CHORUS: Alas for this horrific act,
the monstrous way she died.
But woe on the survivor, too—      [contrast romance narrative]

1334 do I call him our saviour or our doom?
When will all this cease? When will murder,         [preview for The Eumenides]
its fury spent, rest at last in sleep?



Eumenides notes

opening tribute to Athens--drama as civic ritual, support for city; cf. Broadway & Houston

31 Dionysus

33 Pentheus

43 Pythia sees Orestes

52-3 a man the gods despise

55 sword and olive branch

60 groups of women sleeping

77 where does this end?  . . . Apollo's work

Apollo enters, stands near Orestes [contrast Dionysus]

99 reach Athena's city

101-4 speech, find a way

118 Ghost of Clytaemnestra

122 ghosts of those I killed revile me

wakes up furies

312-13 Orestes embracing statue

wants a trial

350 [Athens] will win allies

371 enter Athena

508 new property (Achaea > Troy]

525 one's neighbor who's done no wrong

538 he thought it right to kill his mother

540 two sides to dispute


Athena, heral, 10 citizens, jury

733 Apollo purified Orestes

advocate: I share the blame [compare to sharing honor]

753 the orders of this god . . . my witness

761 she was guilty of two crimes

869 first trial for murder

now and forever this court

880 reverence and terror . . .  rulers of citizens

887 avoid both anarchy and tyranny

936 no mother gave me birth

954 votes equal, acquitted

967 [give justice, receive justice] [cf. 1080]

990+ disease will grow--that's justice

citizens make fun of us

1008 you'll have your place

1066 a place of honor . . . more respect

1080 do good things, receive good things in honor [cf. 967]

1125 a blessing on this land

1127 x-brutal victories, only blessings

1197 struggle for justice > victorious forever

group of citizens

1254 scarlet robes on Furies

1275 worked together for this ending

singing and dancing [like comedy]