Tragedy (from the Greek: τραγῳδία, tragōidia[a]) is a form
of drama based on human suffering that invokes an accompanying
catharsis or pleasure in audiences. While many cultures have
developed forms that provoke this paradoxical 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 civilisation. 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 puts it.
From its origins in the theatre of ancient Greece 2500 years ago, from
which there survives only a fraction of the work of Aeschylus,
Sophocles and Euripides; through its singular articulations in the
works of Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Jean Racine, and Friedrich
Schiller to the more recent naturalistic tragedy of August Strindberg;
Samuel Beckett's modernist meditations on death, loss and suffering;
Müller's postmodernist reworkings of the tragic canon; and Joshua
Oppenheimer's incorporation of tragic pathos in his nonfiction film,
The Act of Killing (2012), tragedy has remained an important site of
cultural experimentation, negotiation, struggle, and change. A
long line of philosophers—which includes Plato, Aristotle, Saint
Augustine, Voltaire, Hume, Diderot, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard,
Nietzsche, Freud, Benjamin, Camus, Lacan, 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 and lyric) 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
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.
4.1 Influence of Greek and Roman
7 Modern development
9 Similar dramatic forms in world theatre
9.1 Ancient Indian drama
10 See also
14 External links
Aristotle's Tragic Plot Structure
The word "tragedy" appears to have been used to describe different
phenomena at different times. It derives from Classical Greek
τραγῳδία, contracted 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 that
around which a chorus danced prior to the animal's ritual
sacrifice. In another view on the etymology,
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
Aristotle 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 improvisations of the leader of choral
dithyrambs (hymns sung and danced in praise of Dionysos, the god of
wine and fertility):
Anyway, arising from an improvisatory beginning (both tragedy and
comedy—tragedy from the leaders of the dithyramb, and comedy from
the leaders of the phallic processions which even now continue as a
custom in many of our cities), [tragedy] grew little by little, as
[the poets] developed whatever [new part] of it had appeared; and,
passing through many changes, tragedy came to a halt, since it had
attained its own nature.
— Poetics IV, 1449a 10–15
In the same work,
Aristotle attempts to provide a scholastic
definition of what tragedy is:
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 effects relief (catharsis) to such [and similar] emotions.
— Poetics, VI 1449b 2–3
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.
Friedrich Nietzsche discussed the origins of
Greek tragedy in his
The Birth of Tragedy
The Birth of Tragedy (1872). Here, he suggests the name
originates in the use of a chorus of goat-like satyrs in the original
dithyrambs from which the tragic genre developed.
Scott Scullion writes:
There is abundant evidence for tragoidia understood as "song for the
prize goat". The best-known evidence is Horace, Ars poetica 220-24
("he who with a tragic song competed for a mere goat"); the earliest
is the Parian Marble, a chronicle inscribed about 264/63 BCE, which
records, under a date between 538 and 528 BCE: "Thespis is the poet
... first produced ... and as prize was established the billy goat"
(FrGHist 239A, epoch 43); the clearest is Eustathius 1769.45: "They
called those competing tragedians, clearly because of the song over
the billy goat"...
Mask of Dionysus. Greek, Myrina, 2nd century BCE.
Main article: Greek tragedy
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.[b] We have complete texts extant by Aeschylus,
Sophocles, and Euripides.[c]
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,
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
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 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 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.
Scene from the tragedy
Iphigenia in Tauris
Iphigenia in Tauris by Euripides. Roman fresco
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
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.[d]
Livius Andronicus began to write Roman tragedies, thus creating some
of the first important works of Roman literature. Five years
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' Hippolytus.
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 plays, morality plays, farces and miracle plays.
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 Paduan Lovato de' Lovati (1241–1309). His pupil Albertino
Mussato (1261–1329), also of Padua, in 1315 wrote the
tragedy Eccerinis, which uses the story of the tyrant Ezzelino III da
Romano to highlight the danger to
Padua posed by Cangrande della Scala
of Verona. 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 of
Vicenza (c.1365–1441) and the Progne of the Venetian Gregorio Correr
(1409–1464) which dates from 1428–29.
Gian Giorgio Trissino
Gian Giorgio Trissino (1478–1550) of
Vicenza wrote his
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
Iphigenia in Tauris of the same author; like
Sophonisba, they are in Italian and in blank (unrhymed)
hendecasyllables. 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
Galeotto del Carretto of 1502.
From about 1500 printed copies, in the original languages, of the
works of Sophocles, Seneca, and Euripides, as well as comedic writers
such as Aristophanes,
Terence and Plautus, 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
Aristotle (and contemporary commentaries by
Julius Caesar Scaliger
Julius Caesar Scaliger and
Lodovico Castelvetro), although plots were taken from classical
authors such as Plutarch, Suetonius, etc., from the Bible, from
contemporary events and from short story collections (Italian, French
and Spanish). The Greek tragic authors (
Sophocles and Euripides) 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
Tirso de Molina and Lope de
Vega, many of whose works were translated and adapted for the French
Edwin Austin Abbey
Edwin Austin Abbey (1852–1911) King Lear, Cordelia's Farewell
See also: English Renaissance theatre, Shakespearean tragedy, Revenge
play, and Domestic tragedy
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
In English, the most famous and most successful tragedies are those of
William Shakespeare and his Elizabethan contemporaries. Shakespeare's
Antony and Cleopatra
Romeo and Juliet
Timon of Athens
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
John Webster (1580?–1635?), also wrote famous plays of the genre:
The Duchess of Malfi
The White Devil
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.
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
The Birth of Tragedy (1872) was to support Wagner in
his claims to be a successor of the ancient dramatists.
French actor Talma as Nero in Racine's Britannicus.
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
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.
Jean Racine's tragedies—inspired by Greek myths, Euripides,
Sophocles and Seneca—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
For more on French tragedy of the 16th and 17th centuries, see French
Renaissance literature and French literature of the 17th century.
Bourgeois tragedy and Augustan drama
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
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. 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'.
Further information: Poetics (Aristotle)
Aristotle wrote in his work Poetics that tragedy is characterised by
seriousness and involves a great person who experiences a reversal of
fortune (Peripeteia). 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 and fear 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
and pity—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 or spear-thrower missing his
target). According to Aristotle, "The misfortune is brought about
not by [general] vice or depravity, but by some [particular] 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
Aristotle terms this sort of recognition "a change from
ignorance to awareness of a bond of love or hate."
Aristotle gave the following definition in ancient Greek
of the word "tragedy" (τραγῳδία):
"Ἔστιν οὖν τραγῳδία μίμησις πράξεως
σπουδαίας καὶ τελείας μέγεθος
ἐχούσης, ἡδυσμένῳ λόγῳ χωρὶς
ἑκάστῳ τῶν εἰδῶν ἐν τοῖς μορίοις,
δρώντων καὶ οὐ δι᾽ ἀπαγγελίας, δι᾽
ἐλέου καὶ φόβου περαίνουσα τὴν τῶν
τοιούτων παθημάτων κάθαρσιν."
Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is admirable,
complete (composed of an introduction, a middle part and an ending),
and possesses magnitude; in language made pleasurable, each of its
species separated in different parts; performed by actors, not through
narration; effecting through pity and fear the purification of such
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. 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 and Discovery
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 and Prometheus
G.W.F. Hegel, 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'
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
The heroes of ancient classical tragedy encounter situations in which,
if they firmly decide in favor of the one ethical pathos that alone
suits their finished character, they must necessarily come into
conflict with the equally [gleichberechtigt] justified ethical power
that confronts them. Modern characters, on the other hand, stand in a
wealth of more accidental circumstances, within which one could act
this way or that, so that the conflict is, though occasioned by
external preconditions, still essentially grounded in the character.
The new individuals, in their passions, obey their own nature...
simply because they are what they are. Greek heroes also act in
accordance with individuality, but in ancient tragedy such
individuality is necessarily... a self-contained ethical pathos... In
modern tragedy, however, the character in its peculiarity decides in
accordance with subjective desires... such that congruity of character
with outward ethical aim no longer constitutes an essential basis of
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 (Sanskrit: 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 modes or jatis which are the
origin of the notion of the modern melodic structures known as ragas.
Their role in invoking emotions are emphasised; thus compositions
emphasising the notes gandhara or rishabha 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, Mahabharata, 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
Tragédies en musique
Middle English tragedie <
Middle French tragedie < Latin
tragoedia < Ancient Greek: τραγῳδία, tragōidia
^ We have seven by Aeschylus, seven by Sophocles, and eighteen by
Euripides. In addition, we also have the Cyclops, a satyr play by
Euripides. Some critics since the 17th century have argued that one of
the tragedies that the classical tradition gives as
Euripides'—Rhesus—is a 4th-century play by an unknown author;
modern scholarship agrees with the classical authorities and ascribes
the play to Euripides. This uncertainty accounts for Brockett and
Hildy's figure of 31 tragedies.
^ The theory that
Prometheus Bound was not written by
Aeschylus adds a
fourth, anonymous playwright to those whose work survives.
^ For more information on the ancient Roman dramatists, see the
articles categorised under "Ancient Roman dramatists and playwrights"
^ Klein, E (1967), "Tragedy", A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary
of the English Language, II L–Z, Elsevier, p. 1637
^ a b Banham 1998, p. 1118.
Nietzsche 1999, p. 21, §2: ‘two-fold mood[…] the strange
mixture and duality in the affects of the Dionysiac enthusiasts, that
phenomenon whereby pain awakens pleasure while rejoicing wrings cries
of agony from the breast. From highest joy there comes a cry of horror
or a yearning lament at some irredeemable loss. In those Greek
festivals there erupts what one might call a sentimental tendency in
nature, as if it had cause to sigh over its dismemberment into
^ Williams 1966, pp. 14–16.
^ Williams 1966, p. 16.
^ Williams 1966, pp. 13–84.
^ a b Taxidou 2004, pp. 193–209.
^ Benjamin 1998.
^ Deleuze & Guattari 1972.
^ Felski 2008, p. 1.
^ Dukore 1974: primary material.
^ a b Carlson 1993: analysis.
^ Pfister 1977.
^ Elam 1980.
^ See Horace, Epistulae, II, 3, 220: "Carmino qui tragico vilem
certavit ob hircum".
^ a b Brockett & Hildy 2003, p. 13.
^ of Naucratis, Athenaeus, The deipnosophists, Wisc
^ Janko 1987, p. 6.
^ Aristotle, Poetics, section 1449b, Tufts
^ Scott Scullion: "
Tragedy and Religion: The Problem of Origins", in
Gregory (ed.), A Companion to Greek Tragedy, 2008, p. 29
^ Brown 1998, p. 441.
^ Cartledge 1997, pp. 3–5.
^ Goldhill 1997, p. 54.
^ Ley 2007, p. 206.
^ Styan 2000, p. 140.
^ Taxidou 2004, p. 104: “most scholars now call 'Greek' tragedy
'Athenian' tragedy, which is historically correct”.
^ Brockett & Hildy 2003, pp. 32–3.
^ Brown 1998, p. 444.
^ Cartledge 1997, pp. 3–5, 33: [although Athenians of the 4th
century judged Aeschylus, Sophocles, and
Euripides "as the nonpareils
of the genre, and regularly honored their plays with revivals, tragedy
itself was not merely a 5th-century phenomenon, the product of a
short-lived golden age. If not attaining the quality and stature of
the fifth-century 'classics', original tragedies nonetheless continued
to be written and produced and competed with in large numbers
throughout the remaining life of the democracy—and beyond it".
^ a b Brockett & Hildy 2003, p. 15.
^ Kovacs 2005, p. 379.
^ Walton 1997, pp. viii, xix.
^ Lucas 1954, p. 7.
^ Ley 2007, p. 33–34.
^ a b Brockett & Hildy 2003, p. 43.
^ Brockett & Hildy 2003, pp. 36, 47.
^ a b Brockett & Hildy 2003, p. 47.
^ Brockett & Hildy 2003, p. 49.
^ a b Brockett & Hildy 2003, pp. 50.
^ Brockett & Hildy 2003, pp. 49–50.
^ "Lovati, Lovato de'", Treccani: Enciclopedie on line (in Italian).
Accessed March 2013.
^ "Mussato, Albertino", Treccani: Enciclopedie on line (in Italian).
Accessed March 2013.
^ "Drama", Encyclopædia Britannica, eleventh edition, Vol. VIII, p.
^ 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.
^ Headington, Westbrook & Barfoot 1991, p. 22.
^ Graham Sadler, "Tragédie en musique", Grove
(subscription required). Accessed March 2013
^ Headington, Westbrook & Barfoot 1991, p. 178.
^ Miller 1949, p. 894.
^ Barker 1989, p. 13.
^ George Steiner, The Death of
Tragedy  (Oxford University
Press, 1980; Yale University Press, 1996), p. xiii. See also George
Steiner, ‘ “Tragedy.” Reconsidered.’ New Literary History 35:1
(Winter 2004), pp. 1-15
^ Aristotle. Poetics, Trans. W.H. Fyfe. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1932.
^ Rorty, Amelie Oksenberg. Essays on Aristotle’s Poetics. Princeton:
Princeton UP, 1992. Page 178
^ Poetics, Aristotle
^ Aristotle, Poetics. Section 1135b
^ Aristotle, Poetics, 1449b
^ Chiari, J. Landmarks of Contemporary Drama. London: Jenkins, 1965.
^ Bradley 2007, pp. 114–56.
^ Hegel 1927, pp. 567–8.
^ Hegel 1927, p. 572.
^ Banham 1998, p. 517.
^ Oldenberg, Hermann (1922), Das Mahabharata, Göttingen
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Tragedy on In Our Time at the BBC.
Taplin, Oliver; Billings, Joshua. "What is Tragedy?" (podcast). UK:
Oxford University. .
Aristotle. "Poetics" (online ed.). Tufts. .
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