What is Greek Tragedy? | Principal Parts of Greek Tragedy | Learning Greek Tragedy The Easy Way

Greek Tragedy and Principal Parts of Greek Tragedy: According to Aristotle, Greek tragedy developed out of the improvised speeches of the dithyramb with the satiric drama as an intermediate stage. The word "tragedy" appears to have been used to describe different phenomena at different times. It derives from Classical Greek τραγῳδία, contracted from tag(o)-aoidiā = "goat the song", which comes from tragos. The tragedy is, then, an enactment of a deed that is important and complete, and of a certain magnitude, by means of language enriched with ornaments, each used separately in the different parts of the play.  It is enacted, not merely recited, and through pity and fear it affects relief to such and similar emotions— Poetics

Athenian tragedy—the oldest surviving form of tragedy—is a type of dance-drama that formed an important part of the theatrical culture of the city-state. Having emerged sometime during the 6th century BCE, it flowered during the 5th century BCE (from the end of which it began to spread throughout the Greek world), and continued to be popular until the beginning of the Hellenistic period.
Athenian tragedies were performed in late March/early April at an annual state religious festival in honor of Dionysus. The presentations took the form of a contest between three playwrights, who presented their works on three successive days. Each playwright offered a tetralogy consisting of three tragedies and a concluding comic piece called a satyr play. The four plays sometimes featured linked stories. Only one complete trilogy of tragedies has survived, the Oresteia of Aeschylus. The Greek theatre was in the open air, on the side of a hill, and performances of a trilogy and satyr play probably lasted most of the day. Performances were apparently open to all citizens, including women, but the evidence is scant. The theatre of Dionysus at Athens probably held around 12,000 people.
All of the choral parts were sung to the accompaniment of an aulos and some of the actors' answers to the chorus were sung as well. The play as a whole was composed in various verse meters. All actors were male and wore masks. A Greek chorus danced as well as sang, though no one knows exactly what sorts of steps the chorus performed as it sang. Choral songs in the tragedy are often divided into three sections: the strophe, antistrophe  and epode
Many ancient Greek tragedians employed the ekkyklêma as a theatrical device, which was a platform hidden behind the scene that could be rolled out to display the aftermath of some event that had happened out of sight of the audience. This event was frequently a brutal the murder of some sort, an act of violence which could not be effectively portrayed visually, but an action of which the other characters must see the effects in order for it to have meaning and emotional resonance. A prime example of the use of the ekkyklêma is after the murder of Agamemnon in the first play of Aeschylus' Oresteia when the king's butchered body is wheeled out in a grand display for all to see. Variations on the ekkyklêma are used in tragedies and other forms to this day, as writers still find it a useful and often powerful device for showing the consequences of extreme human actions. Another such device was a crane, the mechanic, which served to hoist a god or goddess on stage when they were supposed to arrive flying. This device gave origin to the phrase "deus ex machina" (god out of a machine), that is, the surprise intervention of an unforeseen external factor that changes the outcome of an event.

Principal parts of a Greek tragedy:
                                              A Greek tragedy normally contained the following parts:
1. The prologue the part before the entrance of the chorus, in monologue or dialogue setting forth the subject of the drama and the situation from which it starts. In the earliest tragedies, the play begins with the entrance of the chorus, who set forth the subject.
2. The song accompanying the entrance of the chorus.
3. The episodes, scenes in which one or more actors took part, with the chorus.
4. These songs were originally reflections or expressions of emotion evoked by the preceding episode.

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