Oedipus & Antigone Greek Tragedies

Odeipus the Rex 

Notes on Classical Tragedies and tragic heroes

Oedipus Rex E-Text

Lesson 1

Objectives: Students will become familiar with the Oedipus legend and the concepts of tragic heroes and calssical tragedies.

Aim: How are classical tragedy and  tragic herodefined respectively?

Do Now: What’s the Oedipus legend?

Mini Lesson

What you need to know-

Notes on Classical Tragedies and tragic heroes

Tragic Hero

Tragedy is the limitation of a certain magnitude. The tragic hero is a man of noble birth, a man of high degree. His fate affects many. He is good but has flaws (hamartia). His flaw is an error or frailty and is not caused by vice or depravity. His flaw brings about his inevitable down fall or catastrophe. Tragic irony lies in the contrast between the vision he has of his future and the disaster, which befalls him. Despite the inevitability of his fate, (disaster, catastrophe). The protagonist asserts his dignity and is committed inexorably to a noble cause. He believe he is doing the “right “thing. He struggles against his fate (disaster, catastrophe, and downfall) which is inevitable. He struggles to be more than human and increase his stature as a man. But since he is a man, he goes too far. He experiences a reversal and recognition. He recognizes his error and suffers profoundly. He has to suffer pity. He suffers and protests his fate. The suffering enables him to become human, wise, and see his place in the universe that he is not a god, but a man, limited. The audience watches the spectacle of suffering and experiences fear and pity and then catharsis. The release of these emotions leaves a sense of tragic awe at the nobility of human spirit, which struggles against its limitations.

III.Notes on Tragedy

Elements of Greek Tragedy

  1. Plots were religious myths familiar to the audience
  2. No suspense-more subtle techniques
  3. foreshadowing-hint or clue of a future event
  4. verbal or “Sophoclean irony”-audience knows more than the character and a different meaning for the audience

All Greek plays had Unity

  • Time-takes place within a single day
  • Place-scene does not change
  • Action-one story-no subplots


  1. Sophocles changed form of Greek Tragedy
  2. Added scene painting and a third actor
  3. Increased the chorus from 2-15

The Chorus

  • Sets the mood
  • Represents the common man
  • Sides with one character or another
  • May warn a character of possible danger

Aristotle 384-322BC

  1. Wrote Poetics-the study of Greek Drama

Elements of Tragedy according to Aristotle


  1. Subject of tragedy is a struggle and down falls of a hero
  2. Aim of tragedy is to bring about a catharsis–is a process that causes the audience to feel pity and fear and then purges them of these emotions so that they leave the theater feeling cleansed and uplifted.
  3. Audience feels pity for a hero because he doesn’t deserve his misfortune
  4. Audience feels fear because they recognize that the hero is a man like themselves and what happened to the hero could happen to them.

Tragic Hero

  1. Man/Woman of noble birth-a “good” person, not god-like
  2. Has a flaw in his character
  3. Usually pride, hubris that ultimately causes his downfall
  4. Hero’s fate flows from his character(flaw) it is not the result or an accident
  5. involved in a noble cause-an action of a certain magnitude in which the hero believes he is doing the right thing.
  6. Struggles against his fate that is inevitable
  7. Experiences reversal and recognition
    • Reversal-the opposite of what is planned for actually occurs
    • Recognition-lives and suffers with the knowledge of what he has done

IV. Vocabulary words on Oedipus

Hubris/Hamartia/Peripetaia/Theban Plays/Prologue/Parodos/Strophe/Antistrophe/Ode(Chorus)/Exodos

Homework: Review and complete the study questions based on Prologue and Parodos.

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