Tragedy (from the grc-gre|τραγῳδία
, ''tragōidia'', ''tragōidia'') is a form of drama
based on human suffering
and, mainly, the terrible or sorrowful events that befall a main character
. Traditionally, the intention of tragedy is to invoke an accompanying catharsis
, or a "pain hat
awakens pleasure", for the audience. While many cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradox
ical response, the term ''tragedy'' often refers to a specific tradition
of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of Western civilization
. That tradition has been multiple and discontinuous, yet the term has often been used to invoke a powerful effect of cultural identity
and historical continuity—"the Greeks
and the Elizabethans
, in one cultural form; Hellenes
and Christians, in a common activity," as Raymond Williams
From its origins in the theatre of ancient Greece
2500 years ago, from which there survives only a fraction of the work of Aeschylus
, as well as many fragments from other poets, and the later Roman tragedies of Seneca
; through its singular articulations in the works of Shakespeare
, Lope de Vega
, Jean Racine
, and Friedrich Schiller
to the more recent naturalistic
tragedy of Henrik Ibsen
and August Strindberg
; Samuel Beckett
meditations on death, loss and suffering; Müller's postmodernist
reworkings of the tragic canon, tragedy has remained an important site of cultural experimentation, negotiation, struggle, and change. A long line of philosophers
—which includes Plato
, Saint Augustine
, and Deleuze
—have analysed, speculated upon, and criticised the genre.
In the wake of Aristotle's ''Poetics
'' (335 BCE), tragedy has been used to make genre distinctions, whether at the scale of poetry in general (where the tragic divides against epic
) or at the scale of the drama (where tragedy is opposed to comedy
). In the modern
era, tragedy has also been defined against drama, melodrama
, the tragicomic
, and epic theatre
. Drama, in the narrow sense, cuts across the traditional division between comedy and tragedy in an anti- or a-generic deterritorialisation
from the mid-19th century
onwards. Both Bertolt Brecht
and Augusto Boal
define their epic theatre
projects (non-Aristotelian drama
and Theatre of the Oppressed
, respectively) against models of tragedy. Taxidou, however, reads epic theatre as an incorporation of tragic functions and its treatments of mourning and speculation.
The word "tragedy" appears to have been used to describe different phenomena at different times. It derives from Classical Greek
from ''trag(o)-aoidiā'' = "goat song
", which comes from ''tragos'' = "he-goat" and ''aeidein'' = "to sing" (''cf.
'' "ode"). Scholars suspect this may be traced to a time when a goat was either the prize in a competition of choral dancing
or was what a chorus
danced around prior to the animal's ritual sacrifice
. In another view on the etymology, Athenaeus
of Naucratis (2nd–3rd century CE) says that the original form of the word was ''trygodia'' from ''trygos'' (grape harvest) and ''ode'' (song), because those events were first introduced during grape harvest.
Writing in 335 BCE (long after the Golden Age
of 5th-century Athenian
provides the earliest-surviving explanation for the origin of the dramatic art form
in his ''Poetics
'', in which he argues that tragedy developed from the improvisation
s of the leader of choral dithyramb
s sung and danced in praise of Dionysos
, the god of wine and fertility):
In the same work, Aristotle attempts to provide a scholastic definition of what tragedy is:
There is some dissent to the dithyrambic origins of tragedy, mostly based on the differences between the shapes of their choruses and styles of dancing.
A common descent from pre-Hellenic
fertility and burial rites has been suggested.
discussed the origins of Greek tragedy in his early book ''The Birth of Tragedy
'' (1872). Here, he suggests the name originates in the use of a chorus of goat-like satyr
s in the original dithyramb
s from which the tragic genre developed.
Scott Scullion writes:
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
. No tragedies from the 6th century and only 32 of the more than a thousand that were performed in the 5th century have survived. We have complete texts extant
, and Euripides
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 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 metres. 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 tragedy are often divided into three sections: strophe ("turning, circling"), antistrophe ("counter-turning, counter-circling") and epode ("after-song").
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 which had happened out of sight of the audience. This event was frequently a brutal 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 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 mechane
, 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.
Following the expansion of the Roman Republic
(509–27 BCE) into several Greek territories between 270–240 BCE, Rome encountered Greek tragedy
. From the later years of the republic and by means of the Roman Empire
(27 BCE-476 CE), theatre spread west across Europe, around the Mediterranean and even reached England. While Greek tragedy continued to be performed throughout the Roman period, the year 240 BCE marks the beginning of regular Roman drama
. Livius Andronicus
began to write Roman tragedies, thus creating some of the first important works of Roman literature
. Five years later, Gnaeus Naevius
also began to write tragedies (though he was more appreciated for his comedies). No complete early Roman tragedy survives, though it was highly regarded in its day; historians know of three other early tragic playwrights—Quintus Ennius
, Marcus Pacuvius
and Lucius Accius
From the time of the empire, the tragedies of two playwrights survive—one is an unknown author, while the other is the Stoic philosopher Seneca
. Nine of Seneca's tragedies
survive, all of which are ''fabula crepidata'' (tragedies adapted from Greek originals); his ''Phaedra
'', for example, was based on Euripides
''. Historians do not know who wrote the only extant
example of the ''fabula praetexta'' (tragedies based on Roman subjects), ''Octavia
'', but in former times it was mistakenly attributed to Seneca due to his appearance as a character in the tragedy.
Seneca's tragedies rework those of all three of the Athenian tragic playwrights whose work has survived. Probably meant to be recited at elite gatherings, they differ from the Greek versions in their long declamatory, narrative accounts of action, their obtrusive moralising, and their bombastic rhetoric. They dwell on detailed accounts of horrible deeds and contain long reflective soliloquies
. Though the gods rarely appear in these plays, ghosts and witches abound. Senecan tragedies explore ideas of revenge
, the occult, the supernatural, suicide, blood and gore. The Renaissance scholar Julius Caesar Scaliger
(1484–1558), who knew both Latin and Greek, preferred Seneca to Euripides.
Influence of Greek and Roman
Classical Greek drama was largely forgotten in Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 16th century. Medieval theatre
was dominated by mystery play
s, morality play
s and miracle play
s. In Italy, the models for tragedy in the later Middle Ages were Roman, particularly the works of Seneca, interest in which was reawakened by the Padua
n Lovato de' Lovati
["Lovati, Lovato de'"]
''Treccani: Enciclopedie on line'' (in Italian). Accessed March 2013.
His pupil Albertino Mussato
(1261–1329), also of Padua, in 1315 wrote the Latin verse
tragedy ''Eccerinis'', which uses the story of the tyrant Ezzelino III da Romano
to highlight the danger to Padua posed by Cangrande della Scala
''Treccani: Enciclopedie on line'' (in Italian). Accessed March 2013.
It was the first secular tragedy written since Roman times, and may be considered the first Italian tragedy identifiable as a Renaissance work. The earliest tragedies to employ purely classical themes are the ''Achilles'' written before 1390 by Antonio Loschi
(c.1365–1441) and the ''Progne'' of the Venetian Gregorio Correr
(1409–1464) which dates from 1428 to 1429.
["Drama", ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', eleventh edition, Vol. VIII, p. 503]
In 1515 Gian Giorgio Trissino
(1478–1550) of Vicenza wrote his tragedy ''Sophonisba'' in the vernacular
that would later be called Italian. Drawn from Livy
's account of Sophonisba
, the Carthaginian
princess who drank poison to avoid being taken by the Romans, it adheres closely to classical rules. It was soon followed by the ''Oreste'' and ''Rosmunda'' of Trissino's friend, the Florentine Giovanni di Bernardo Rucellai
(1475–1525). Both were completed by early 1516 and are based on classical Greek models, ''Rosmunda'' on the ''Hecuba
'' of Euripides
, and ''Oreste'' on the ''Iphigenia in Tauris
'' of the same author; like ''Sophonisba'', they are in Italian and in blank (unrhymed) hendecasyllable
s. Another of the first of all modern tragedies is ''A Castro'', by Portuguese poet and playwright António Ferreira
, written around 1550 (but only published in 1587) in polymetric verse (most of it being blank hendecasyllables), dealing with the murder of Inês de Castro
, one of the most dramatic episodes in Portuguese history. Although these three Italian plays are often cited, separately or together, as being the first regular tragedies in modern times, as well as the earliest substantial works to be written in blank hendecasyllables, they were apparently preceded by two other works in the vernacular: ''Pamfila'' or ''Filostrato e Panfila'' written in 1498 or 1508 by Antonio Cammelli
(Antonio da Pistoia); and a ''Sophonisba'' by Galeotto del Carretto
[Henry Hallam (1837]
''Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries''
Paris: Baudry's European Library, p. 212.
["Del Carretto, Galeotto, dei marchesi di Savona"]
''Treccani: Enciclopedie on line'' (in Italian). Accessed March 2013.
From about 1500 printed copies, in the original languages, of the works of Sophocles
, and Euripides
, as well as comedic writers such as Aristophanes
, were available in Europe and the next forty years saw humanists
and poets translating and adapting their tragedies. In the 1540s, the European university setting (and especially, from 1553 on, the Jesuit colleges) became host to a Neo-Latin theatre (in Latin) written by scholars. The influence of Seneca was particularly strong in its humanist tragedy. His plays, with their ghosts, lyrical passages and rhetorical oratory, brought a concentration on rhetoric and language over dramatic action to many humanist tragedies.
The most important sources for French tragic theatre in the Renaissance were the example of Seneca
and the precepts of Horace
(and contemporary commentaries by Julius Caesar Scaliger
and Lodovico Castelvetro
), although plots were taken from classical authors such as Plutarch
, etc., from the Bible, from contemporary events and from short story collections (Italian, French and Spanish). The Greek tragic authors (Sophocles
) would become increasingly important as models by the middle of the 17th century. Important models were also supplied by the Spanish Golden Age
playwrights Pedro Calderón de la Barca
, Tirso de Molina
and Lope de Vega
, many of whose works were translated and adapted for the French stage.
The common forms are the:
* ''Tragedy of circumstance'': people are born into their situations, and do not choose them; such tragedies explore the consequences of birthrights, particularly for monarchs
* ''Tragedy of miscalculation'': the protagonist
's error of judgement has tragic consequences
* ''Revenge play
In English, the most famous and most successful tragedies are those of William Shakespeare
and his Elizabethan
contemporaries. Shakespeare's tragedies include:
* ''Antony and Cleopatra
* ''Julius Caesar
* ''King Lear
* ''Romeo and Juliet
* ''Timon of Athens
* ''Titus Andronicus
* ''Troilus and Cressida
A contemporary of Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe
, also wrote examples of tragedy in English, notably:
* ''The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus
* ''Tamburlaine the Great
(1580?–1635?), also wrote famous plays of the genre:
* ''The Duchess of Malfi
* ''The White Devil
Domestic tragedies are tragedies in which the tragic protagonists are ordinary middle-class or working-class individuals. This subgenre contrasts with classical
tragedy, in which the protagonists are of kingly or aristocratic
rank and their downfall is an affair of state as well as a personal matter.
The Ancient Greek
had argued that tragedy should concern only great individuals with great minds and souls, because their catastrophic downfall would be more emotionally powerful to the audience; only comedy should depict middle-class people. Domestic tragedy breaks with Aristotle's precepts, taking as its subjects merchants or citizens whose lives have less consequence in the wider world.
The advent of the domestic tragedy ushered in the first phase shift of the genre focusing less on the Aristotelian definition of the genre and more on the definition of tragedy on the scale of the drama, where tragedy is opposed to comedy i.e. melancholic stories. Although the utilization of key elements such as suffering, hamartia, morality, and spectacle ultimately ties this variety of tragedy to all the rest. This variant of tragedy has led to the evolution and development of tragedies of the modern era especially those past the mid-1800's such as the works of Arthur Miller
, Eugene O'Neill
and Henrik Ibsen
. Newly dealt with themes that sprang forth from the Domestic tragedy movement include: wrongful convictions and executions, poverty, starvation, addiction
, debt, structural abuse
, child abuse
, domestic violence
, social shunning
, and loneliness.
Classical Domestic tragedies include:
* ''Arden of Faversham
* ''A Woman Killed with Kindness
* ''A Yorkshire Tragedy
* ''The Witch of Edmonton
Contemporary with Shakespeare, an entirely different approach to facilitating the rebirth of tragedy was taken in Italy. Jacopo Peri
, in the preface to his ''Euridice
'' refers to "the ancient Greeks and Romans (who in the opinion of many sang their staged tragedies throughout in representing them on stage)." The attempts of Peri and his contemporaries to recreate ancient tragedy gave rise to the new Italian musical genre of opera. In France, tragic operatic works from the time of Lully
to about that of Gluck
were not called opera, but ''tragédie en musique'' ("tragedy in music") or some similar name; the ''tragédie en musique'' is regarded as a distinct musical genre.
"Tragédie en musique"
Grove Music Online (subscription required). Accessed March 2013
Some later operatic composers have also shared Peri's aims: Richard Wagner
's concept of ''Gesamtkunstwerk
'' ("integrated work of art"), for example, was intended as a return to the ideal of Greek tragedy in which all the arts were blended in service of the drama. Nietzsche
, in his ''The Birth of Tragedy
'' (1872) was to support Wagner in his claims to be a successor of the ancient dramatists.
For much of the 17th century, Pierre Corneille
, who made his mark on the world of tragedy with plays like ''Medée'' (1635) and ''Le Cid'' (1636), was the most successful writer of French tragedies. Corneille's tragedies were strangely un-tragic (his first version of ''Le Cid'' was even listed as a tragicomedy), for they had happy endings. In his theoretical works on theatre, Corneille redefined both comedy and tragedy around the following suppositions:
* The stage—in both comedy and tragedy—should feature noble characters (this would eliminate many low-characters, typical of the farce, from Corneille's comedies). Noble characters should not be depicted as vile (reprehensible actions are generally due to non-noble characters in Corneille's plays).
* Tragedy deals with affairs of the state (wars, dynastic marriages); comedy deals with love. For a work to be tragic, it need not have a tragic ending.
* Although Aristotle
says that catharsis
(purgation of emotion) should be the goal of tragedy, this is only an ideal. In conformity with the moral codes of the period, plays should not show evil being rewarded or nobility being degraded.
Corneille continued to write plays through 1674 (mainly tragedies, but also something he called "heroic comedies") and many continued to be successes, although the "irregularities" of his theatrical methods were increasingly criticised (notably by François Hédelin, abbé d'Aubignac
) and the success of Jean Racine from the late 1660s signalled the end of his preeminence.
's tragedies—inspired by Greek myths, Euripides
—condensed their plot into a tight set of passionate and duty-bound conflicts between a small group of noble characters, and concentrated on these characters' double-binds and the geometry of their unfulfilled desires and hatreds. Racine's poetic skill was in the representation of pathos
and amorous passion (like Phèdre
's love for her stepson) and his impact was such that emotional crisis would be the dominant mode of tragedy to the end of the century. Racine's two late plays ("Esther" and "Athalie") opened new doors to biblical subject matter and to the use of theatre in the education of young women. Racine also faced criticism for his irregularities: when his play, ''Bérénice
'', was criticised for not containing any deaths, Racine disputed the conventional view of tragedy.
For more on French tragedy of the 16th and 17th centuries, see French Renaissance literature
and French literature of the 17th century
Towards the close of the eighteenth century, having studied her predecessors, Joanna Baillie
wanted to revolutionise theatre, believing that it could be used more effectively to affect people's lives. To this end she gave a new direction to tragedy, which she defines as ‘the unveiling of the human mind under the dominion of those strong and fixed passions, which seemingly unprovoked by outward circumstances, will from small beginnings brood within the breast, till all the better dispositions, all the fair gifts of nature are borne down before them'.
This theory, she put into practice in her 'Series of Plays on the Passions' in three volumes (commencing in 1798) and in other dramatic works. Her method was to create a series of scenes and incidents intended to capture the audience's inquisitiveness and 'trace the progress of the passion, pointing out those stages in the approach of the enemy, when he might have been combated most successfully; and where the suffering him to pass may be considered as occasioning all the misery that ensues.'
Bourgeois tragedy (German: Bürgerliches Trauerspiel) is a form that developed in 18th-century Europe. It was a fruit of the Enlightenment
and the emergence of the bourgeois class
and its ideals. It is characterised by the fact that its protagonists are ordinary citizens. The first true bourgeois tragedy was an English play, George Lillo
's ''The London Merchant; or, the History of George Barnwell'', which was first performed in 1731. Usually, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
's play ''Miss Sara Sampson'', which was first produced in 1755, is said to be the earliest ''Bürgerliches Trauerspiel'' in Germany.
In modernist literature
, the definition of tragedy has become less precise. The most fundamental change has been the rejection of Aristotle's dictum that true tragedy can only depict those with power and high status. Arthur Miller
's essay "Tragedy and the Common Man" (1949) argues that tragedy may also depict ordinary people in domestic surroundings thus defining Domestic tragedies. British playwright Howard Barker
has argued strenuously for the rebirth of tragedy in the contemporary theatre, most notably in his volume ''Arguments for a Theatre''. "You emerge from tragedy equipped against lies. After the musical, you're anybody's fool," he insists.
Critics such as George Steiner
have even been prepared to argue that tragedy may no longer exist in comparison with its former manifestations in classical antiquity. In ''The Death of Tragedy'' (1961) George Steiner outlined the characteristics of Greek tragedy and the traditions that developed from that period. In the Foreword (1980) to a new edition of his book Steiner concluded that ‘the dramas of Shakespeare are not a renascence of or a humanistic variant of the absolute tragic model. They are, rather, a rejection of this model in the light of tragi-comic and "realistic" criteria.’ In part, this feature of Shakespeare's mind is explained by his bent of mind or imagination which was ‘so encompassing, so receptive to the plurality of diverse orders of experience.’ When compared to the drama of Greek antiquity and French classicism Shakespeare's forms are ‘richer but hybrid'.
Numerous books and plays continue to be written in the tradition of tragedy to this day examples include ''Froth on the Daydream
'', ''The Road
'', ''The Fault in Our Stars
'', ''Fat City
'', ''Rabbit Hole
'', ''Requiem for a Dream
'', ''The Handmaid's Tale
Defining tragedy is no simple matter, and there are many definitions, some of which are incompatible with each other. Oscar Mandel, in ''A Definition of Tragedy'' (1961), contrasted two essentially different means of arriving at a definition. First is what he calls the ''derivative'' way, in which the tragedy is thought to be an expression of an ordering of the world; "instead of asking what tragedy expresses, the derivative definition tends to ask what expresses itself through tragedy". The second is the ''substantive'' way of defining tragedy, which starts with the work of art which is assumed to ''contain'' the ordering of the world. Substantive critics "are interested in the constituent elements of art, rather than its ontological sources". He recognizes four subclasses: a. "definition by formal elements" (for instance the supposed "three unities"); b. "definition by situation" (where one defines tragedy for instance as "exhibiting the fall of a good man"); c. "definition by ethical direction" (where the critic is concerned with the meaning, with the "intellectual and moral effect); and d. "definition by emotional effect" (and he cites Aristotle's "requirement of pity and fear").
wrote in his work ''Poetics''
tragedy is characterised by seriousness and involves a great person who experiences a reversal of fortune
''). Aristotle's definition
can include a change of fortune from bad to good as in the ''Eumenides
'', but he says that the change from good to bad as in ''Oedipus Rex
'' is preferable because this induces pity
within the spectators. Tragedy results in a catharsis
(emotional cleansing) or healing for the audience through their experience of these emotions in response to the suffering of the characters in the drama.
According to Aristotle, "the structure of the best tragedy should not be simple but complex and one that represents incidents arousing fear
—for that is peculiar to this form of art." This reversal of fortune must be caused by the tragic hero's ''hamartia
'', which is often translated as either a character flaw
, or as a mistake (since the original Greek etymology traces back to ''hamartanein'', a sporting term that refers to an archer
-thrower missing his target). According to Aristotle, "The misfortune is brought about not by eneral
vice or depravity, but by some articular
error or frailty." The reversal is the inevitable but unforeseen result of some action taken by the hero. It is also a misconception that this reversal can be brought about by a higher power (e.g. the law, the gods, fate
, or society), but if a character's downfall is brought about by an external cause, Aristotle describes this as a misadventure
and not a tragedy.
In addition, the tragic hero may achieve some revelation or recognition (anagnorisis
--"knowing again" or "knowing back" or "knowing throughout") about human fate, destiny, and the will of the gods. Aristotle terms this sort of recognition "a change from ignorance to awareness of a bond of love or hate."
In ''Poetics'', Aristotle gave the following definition in ancient Greek
of the word "tragedy" (τραγῳδία):
Common usage of tragedy refers to any story with a sad ending, whereas to be an Aristotelian
tragedy the story
must fit the set of requirements as laid out by ''Poetics''. By this definition social drama cannot be tragic because the hero in it is a victim of circumstance and incidents that depend upon the society in which he lives and not upon the inner compulsions—psychological or religious—which determine his progress towards self-knowledge and death.
[Chiari, J. ''Landmarks of Contemporary Drama''. London: Jenkins, 1965. Page 41.]
Exactly what constitutes a "tragedy", however, is a frequently debated matter.
According to Aristotle, there are four species of tragedy:
1. Complex, which involves Peripety
2. Suffering, tragedies of such nature can be seen in the Greek mythological stories of Ajaxes and Ixions
3. Character, a tragedy of moral or ethical character. Tragedies of this nature can be found in Phthiotides and Peleus
4. Spectacle, that of a horror-like theme. Examples of this nature are Phorcides
, the German philosopher most famous for his dialectical approach to epistemology
and history, also applied such a methodology to his theory of tragedy. In his essay "Hegel's Theory of Tragedy," A.C. Bradley
first introduced the English-speaking world to Hegel's theory, which Bradley called the "tragic collision
", and contrasted against the Aristotelian notions of the "tragic hero
" and his or her "hamartia" in subsequent analyses of the Aeschylus' ''Oresteia'' trilogy and of Sophocles' ''Antigone''. Hegel himself, however, in his seminal "The Phenomenology of Spirit
" argues for a more complicated theory of tragedy, with two complementary branches which, though driven by a single dialectical principle, differentiate Greek tragedy from that which follows Shakespeare. His later lectures formulate such a theory of tragedy as a conflict of ethical forces, represented by characters, in ancient Greek tragedy, but in Shakespearean tragedy the conflict is rendered as one of subject and object, of individual personality which must manifest self-destructive passions because only such passions are strong enough to defend the individual from a hostile and capricious external world:
Hegel's comments on a particular play may better elucidate his theory: "Viewed externally, Hamlet's death may be seen to have been brought about accidentally... but in Hamlet's soul, we understand that death has lurked from the beginning: the sandbank of finitude cannot suffice his sorrow and tenderness, such grief and nausea at all conditions of life... we feel he is a man whom inner disgust has almost consumed well before death comes upon him from outside."
Similar dramatic forms in world theatre
Ancient Indian drama
The writer Bharata Muni
, in his work on dramatic theory
''A Treatise on Theatre
: ''Nātyaśāstra'', नाट्य शास्त्र, c. 200 BCE – 200 CE), identified several ''rasas
'' (such as pity, anger, disgust and terror) in the emotional responses of audiences for the Sanskrit drama
of ancient India
. The text also suggests the notion of musical mode
s or jatis which are the origin of the notion of the modern melodic structures known as raga
s. Their role in invoking emotions are emphasised; thus compositions emphasising the notes gandhara
are said to provoke "sadness" or "pathos" (''karuna rasa'') whereas rishabha
evokes heroism (''vira rasa''). Jatis are elaborated in greater detail in the text ''Dattilam
'', composed around the same time as the ''Treatise''.
The celebrated ancient Indian epic
'', can also be related to tragedy in some ways. According to Hermann Oldenberg
, the original epic once carried an immense "tragic force".
It was common in Sanskrit drama to adapt episodes from the ''Mahabharata'' into dramatic form.
* Tragédies en musique
* Revenge tragedy
* Barker, Howard
. 1989. ''Arguments for a Theatre.'' 3rd ed. London: John Calder, 1997. .
Category:1st-millennium BC introductions
Category:Ancient Greek theatre
Category:History of theatre