Ancient Greeks Essay
Greek ages were a very unforgiving religious era. Athens was the capital of Greece. Ancient Greeks interpreted the bible and other religious teachings very literally. Kings and their followers believed they were obligated to impersonate the gods. Greek theatre lasted a short time. The changes resulting from the Greek era are infinite. In 1677, Jean Racine, created Phedre. The film was a violent tragedy. The main characters were; Phedre, Wife of the King; Theseus, King of Athens; Hippolytes; Son of the king; Aricia; Princess Hippolytus falls in love with. Theseus killed Aricias six bothers.
The play contains violence, anger, deceitfulness. The rulers were certain this were the proper way to honor and obey the Gods. “Wars were frequent and whenever one occurred all the serfs controlled by the local lords were forced to take part” (Yudkin, P 64). Not everything about this era was negative. Ancient Greece history lasted one century. The entire country did not exceed 150, 000 people (Cohen, Theatre: Sixth Edition P. 59). Genius inventions and developments were invented. Theatre drew crowds. Sometimes, the audience stood up in the pit to watch the performances. They had no technology or measuring devices.
Pyramids were built. Epidaurus theatres were built. Seats were hundred of feet up. There were no microphones or audio devices. The actors were at the bottom of the stages. The actors were heard by everyone. Working conditions improved. Education, although not available to everyone, started to become more widespread. Jean Racines, Phedra The overall content of the play Phedre, was tragedy, death and violence. Death was anticipated, not feared. The recognition of life were expected to evolve after death. Everything honored Gods. Their death honored the Gods. The characters in Phedra, saw their death as a celebration.
Phedra speaks of seeing her daughter for the last time. “What! Still are you in love with death? Shall I ne’er see you, reconciled to life, Forego those cruel acts of despair? ” Death is part of their life. Then Phaedra responds “Would I were seated in the forest’s shade! When may I follow with delighted eye, Thro glorious dust flying in full career, A Chariot. ” (Racine, Phedra) Phedra could not wait for her final hour. Life expectancies were short. Forty years old were the life expectancy. It was also an honor to the Gods to kill anyone who disgraced their kingdom.
All good they did was honored years after they died. Likewise, all disgrace associated with the Kingdom were recognized after death. Panope informs Phedra of her husband’s death. “Fain would I hide from you tidings so sad, But ‘tis my duty, Madam to reveal them. The had of death has seized your peerless husband, And you are the last to hear of this disaster. The queen, deceived by a vain trust in Heav’n, begs safe return for Theseeus, while Hipplytus his son Learns of his death from vessels that now in port. Phaedra responds “Ye Gods! ” (Racine, Phedra) Slavery was common.
“Most people were serfs and spent their lives in miserable conditions” (Yudkin, P 64). Slavery was not glorified. Death was. Enone is convincing Phedra to live. If she lives her son becomes a king. If she dies, he becomes a slave. “Madam, Theseus is no more, you must supply his place. He leaves a son, A slave if you should die, but if you live, a king. ” Phedra replies, “To your consent, Yes, I will live, if life can be restored, if my affection for a son has pow’r to rouse my sinking heart at such a dangerous hour. ” (Racine, Phedra) Since the king has died, the son becomes the next king.
Phedra agreed to live longer. The plays in the Greek era speak as though death is a choice. Every aspect of life was influenced by religion. Music and singing had one purpose. The purpose was to worship the gods. Composers wrote songs with religious meanings and teachings. The Greeks music in theatres began with chanting in church. The chanting by theatre actors was recited the exact same as it was in church. Monks stayed in a chapel for days on end chanting in musical harmony. Monks chanting was described as “several people may be singing one line in unison, but there is no accompaniment and no harmony” (Yudkin P 65).
Songs or what was considered songs, were created from prayers. “Because Christianity was the dominate religion as well as the principle unifying feature of much of Europe, most of the surviving music from the medieval period was for use in Christian religious services” (Yudkin, P 62-69). As with music, dance had religious meanings. Liturgical dancers in white robes performed in churches and for religious ceremonies. Dancing worshiped the gods, send messages to the gods, and got attention from the gods. Dances interpret bible stories. Sometimes, stories are clearer by acting out the interpretations.
Young children and older grandparent’s attention span last longer with music and movements. “Dance in the west took a separate course from the east in its development. Records of dance during the dark ages are few, although folk dancing and ritual celebrations almost certainly continued” (Cohen, Dance Workshop P. 16-23). Belly dancing progressed. In the Greek era, belly dancing were taught to Middle Eastern women to prepare them for child birth. Midwives borned the babies. They had no fancy hospitals, no medication, or injections to ease the task of childbirth.
Belly dancing through a woman’s pregnancy made childbirth much easier. Ballet played an important in religious settings. It was popularized during the Renaissance/William Shakespeare era. In the 17th century, men had to prove they were proficient at ballet before they could hold any positions relevant to legislation. King Louis XIV was a professional dancer. “The steps as we know ballet evolved out of the 17th century” (Ellison, P 9-11). Ballets were performed for church services, just as liturgical dances were. Athens, or Greece, is famous for training and turning out superior Olympic athletes.
A child started training for the Olympics at a very young age. People in the Greek era were Genius that surpasses advanced technology of today. Athens refused to admit defeat. Defeat was not defined as winning or losing one game. Athens may have lost one game. For them the war was not over if they lost. Athens did not allow disabled people into their country. If kings or soldiers were hurt in war, they were not allowed to return to Athens. Grandparents were responsible for putting deformed newborns to death. A disabled newborn was considered a disgrace to the kingdom.
Greeks believed they would be punished by the gods if they allowed a deformed newborn to live. Everyone had physical task to do. Women and children had physically active lifestyles. Renaissance era was the beginning of development in all areas. Renaissance theatre focused on humans, not groups. Renaissance was not atheist era. Shakespeare changed what was believed to be religious. In the Greek era, it was anti-Christian to educate a woman. Anyone who educated a woman was killed. Their death was considered a disgrace. The educated woman was killed.
Shakespeare introduced the idea of allowing women to perform in theatre. At the time, young boys played all female parts. Phedra was written during the Renaissance or Shakespeare ages. The setting of the play, however were in the Greek ages. Greek theatre established religious beliefs. Renassiance era challenged those beliefs. Greeks were firmly convinced they could not go wrong if honoring the gods. The behavior or actions were not considered. Jean Racine’s wrote Phedre, in the Renaissance era to show how much the beliefs and cultures have progresses since the Greek ages.
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