World / Multicultural Literature: Tragedy & Africa
Readings: The Oresteia Trilogy of Aeschylus (only surviving trilogy of Greek tragedies): Agamemnon (complete); The Libation Bearers (excerpts); The Eumenides (excerpts)
Aristotle's Poetics: parts I, IV: instructor
Oakland production of Agamemnon (masks)
humorous amateur silent production of Death of Agamemnon (YouTube)
The Death of Agamemnon (Texas State U.)
Bacchae Presentation One (lines 1-72): instructor
Australian production of Agamamnon (1.04 Cassandra) line 1435
scene: Clytaemnestra & bodies x chorus (masks) (solves problem of speaking through masks)
Edith Hall UHCL library p. 212
discussion leader assignment
2. Everyone can agree that Agamemnon sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia is horrible, but in the spirit of tragedy, how is it that he's not just a villain or a bad guy as in romance?
1. Agamemnon starts and builds slowly, but what kinds of audience pleasures may grow with it? How does the play challenge you not only to take some kind of pleasure but also to learn? (literature entertains and informs)
l. 1121 introduces Cassandra
silence, dread builds, distracted by Ag climbing stairs
Cassandra like Iphigenia
innocent girl, sings
4. Uses or repression of spectacle?
1580-90 screams, etc
1621 palace doors open
Precontact traditional culture: dispersed nations, tribes, peoples; subsistence + warfare usu. limited, cf. football
> colonialism > colonizers > hybrids > colonized
Yoruba = language
Oyo = land
chorus as narration, later Clytaemnestra
Clytaemnestra ll. 337 ff: more narration
Opening scene, watchman & chorus take turns providing background (like narrator)
p. 11, Clytaemnestra enters scene, talks to Chorus
pp. 18-19 Herald; p. 20 dialogue with Chorus
One actor interacting or speaking with Chorus was standard Greek drama until Aeschylus—you can see Aeschylus still using that style
p. 29 Clytaemnestra meets Agamemnon and Cassandra
32 dialogue b/w C & A
does Artemis (l. 158) reappear besides in Hippolytus?
177-8 Artemis's demand for another sacrifice / one which violates all human law
ll 211, 295 wisdom through suffering [relate to Poetics]
relate to Aeschylus in Poetics part 4
ll. 730 ff: lies re fidelity
Agamemnon not what you mgiht want, but see birth of theater in earliest stages
Chorus 903 ff. problem of old violent aggression > new troubles
942 Iphegenia's sacrifice redeemed?
999 root out infectious evil > Clytaemnestra enters
1031 Orestes mentioned
1061 what joy to escape necessity!
chorus as narrator
figuration l. 649
comedy (Poetics) > Thursday assignment
tragic choice 243-4, art imitates reality
Suppression of spectacle in Tragedy is a convention or norm, but not a rule
Example of spectacle in Agamemnon so far?
What are the appeals of Aeschylus? What kind of poetic power or attraction may the audience feel toward Agamemnon?
Sophocles: subtle, interwoven, careful development of metaphors, intertwining of motives, mixed attitudes
Aeschylus: not subtle but grand, slow but powerful, simple straightforward but compelling shifts in story + some spectacle
33 C on crimson dye
34 A treads on tapestry—hubris?
p. 35 Chorus: sense of dread
+ one test of greatness--can it take you up high, and then take you higher?
Remaining pages of Agamemnon mostly concern Cassandra
Princess of Troy, beautiful doomed prophetess
narrative as ritual? ceremony?
sacrifice as part of narrative?
. . no . . . a house
CASSANDRA: . . .
I see evidence I trust—young children
CASSANDRA: Look over there! Look
[Instructor's note: Tragedy tends to repress spectacle. Here Cassandra describes Agamemnon's murder, but that murder is not shown on stage.]]
you brought me here,
CASSANDRA: Alas for that wedding . .
. Paris and his bride . . .
Where does this end?
CASSANDRA: Then my prophecy will
veil itself no more,
Look there—see those creatures,
1463 Whether you credit what I say or not—
CHORUS LEADER: What man is going to commit such crimes?
CASSANDRA: What man? You've
completely missed the point.
1514 But we'll not die without the gods'
CASSANDRA: It's this house—
[A scream comes from inside the palace]
: Help me!
CHORUS LEADER: Silence! 1590
1621 [The palace doors open, revealing the bodies of Agamemnon and Cassandra. Clytaemnestra stands over them. She is covered in blood]
Poetics 6g de-emphasizes
spectacle as a part of tragedy. The display of Agamemnon's and Cassandra's
corpses constitutes some degree of spectacle, but note that their actual murder
took place offstage and, aside from Agamemnon's screams, was described only by
Cassandra's prophecies above and by Clytaemnestra's report below.]
[Instructor's note: Aristotle in Poetics 6g de-emphasizes spectacle as a part of tragedy. The display of Agamemnon's and Cassandra's corpses constitutes some degree of spectacle, but note that their actual murder took place offstage and, aside from Agamemnon's screams, was described only by Cassandra's prophecies above and by Clytaemnestra's report below.]
Back then you made no accusation
Are you saying this
work is mine? That's not so.
1803-4 He was the first to draw his sword,
Ask discussion questions for LB and Eumenides
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
[The palace doors open to reveal the dead body of Aegisthus with Orestes
standing over it. Pylades
is beside Orestes]
No, not Aegisthus,
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]
Alas for this horrific act,
[contrast romance narrative]
[contrast romance narrative]
do I call him our saviour or our doom?
for The Eumenides]
[preview for The Eumenides]
opening tribute to Athens--drama as civic ritual, support for city; cf. Broadway & Houston
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]