Quiz on Backgrounds to Greek Tragedy

European Humanities
October 1, 2005 
Mr. Spragins

Part One: Identify the Sections of a Greek Theatre






1.        What is Aristotle’s definition of action in a tragedy?


2.        Towards what moment does the action of a tragedy drive?


3.        When did Dionysos replace Demeter as the primary fertility god in Greek religion?


4.        What is a dithyramb? What does the word literally mean?


5.        What two groups composed the thiasus?


6.        Describe an example of how an exarchontes would transform a typical story from the legend of Dionysos into a theatrical spectacle:


7.        What does the word tragedy literally mean?


8.        At what time of the year were the Dionysian Festivals held?


9.        Why were there no priests to lead ceremonies in the religion of Dionysos?


10.     What is the primary feature of Orphic religions?


11.     What innovation in the performance of the dithyramb enabled the rapid development of the art form of tragedy? Who was responsible for this innovation?


12.     What did the celebrants call these episodes placed between the spectacular dithyrambs?


13.     Why must tragedy be told in dialogue and not in the form of epic poetry?


14.     What is the typical theme of a tragedy? Into what kind of situation will the playwright inevitably place the tragic hero?


15.     What do we call the moment in a Greek tragedy when blood is finally spilled?


16.     What divine truth is expressed at that moment?


17.     In what battle did Aeschylus fight?


18.     What is the story of Aeschylus’ trilogy of tragedies: The Oresteia?


19.     What makes this story tragic?


20.     In what political and social context did Sophocles write Oedipus Rex?


21.     What does the word oedipus literally mean?


22.     What would happen on the first day of the Festival of Dionysos in Athens?


23.     What kind of play was performed after the all day trilogy of tragedies?


24.     What prizes were given to the winner of the tragedy competition?


25.     Describe the following special effects that would take place in a Greek tragedy:


a.                   deus ex machina

b.                   eccylema

c.                    periaktoi


26.     Which people in Athens could attend the plays? How many could be seated in the Theatre of Dionyus?


27.     Describe the costume of a Greek tragic actor.


28.     How many actors performed in Oedipus Rex?



Extra Credit:


What does the word skene mean?

What are stasima?