Greece Dramatic Poetry 1

Greece Dramatic Poetry Part 1


According to Picktrue, choral opera, by great or small artists, was now foreign to the course of time, too rigid, too narrow; and it had to be replaced by something more varied and more understanding. Indeed; the passage from the Doric culture, of which we have just spoken, to the Attic culture, which is about to unfold in all its magnificence, is marked by the creation of a new form of art: dramatic poetry, which, in its double expression of tragedy and comedy, it is essentially Athens’ own. Although we do not want to give great importance to the classifications of literary genres, it is certain that these were determined one after the other in relation to the changing conditions and needs of the Greek spirit: first the epic among the ions, then opera with the Aeolians and the Dorians, finally at the Attic the drama: which evidently combined and recast in a new type the elements of the two forms that had preceded it. Dramatic poetry arose in Athens at the end of the century. VI and on the principle of V, just at the moment when this city was about to assert itself and take over the direction of Hellenism. The historical tradition has it that the Attics obtained the first examples of both tragic and comic representations from the Dorians (of Sicyon, of Megara Nisea, etc.); and this is probable, since the choral songs, used in public feasts and especially in the ceremonies of worship – some of which were austere and others amusing – could, by means of the exhibition, take on the appearance or give the idea of ​​scenes actually represented. Especially certain songs, in which the disguised choreutes celebrated the passion of Adrastus or Dionysus-Bacchus or other heroes and demons of nature (dithyrambic hymns, phallophoric hymns and the like), they lent themselves to this effect. But on the other hand it is undoubted that these examples did not find development among the Doric populations, apart from the Dorians of Sicily: among whom, however, due to the rapid orientation of the spirits towards humble and bourgeois realism, the tragedy did not occur at all, that in its mythical, ideal, fantastic character it is the most significant form of Attic production; and moreover even the comedy, if it was cultivated there by Epicarmus and his successors, was however realistic, bourgeois, without choirs, therefore it had nothing to do with the ancient Attic Comedy (which, during the period called “ancient”, took place in a mythical sphere,

Tragedy and comedy therefore had their foundation and their origin in choral songs: they were liturgical manifestations, like many others that were used in the ceremonies of public life and worship, from which the various genres of opera had taken advantage. Therefore, they too retained a religious character for a long time, both for the spirit that informed them – from which they freed themselves only little by little, in progress of time, detaching themselves from the roots of faith – and for their practical destination, which always required the intervention of the state and which was reserved for certain annual recurrences, in urban Dionysian feasts, in rural Dionysian feasts and in the Lenee. They were part of the cult of Dionysus-Bacchus: a foreign divinity, of an orgiastic nature, recently introduced in Hellas, and what a species in Attica had to find both the ground and the right moment; while the Dorians, faithful to the rigid customs and to the moderate and serene cult of Apollo Delphic, were less willing to welcome it.

But to constitute the drama it was necessary that the choral lyrical elements, taught by the Dorians, came into contact on the terrain of Attica with the epic, narrative and discursive elements, taught by the Ionians. In fact, in comparison with the melodic performances of the choirs there were the rhapsodic recitations of the epic; which in Athens, the Ionian city, continued to be in great honor. It is known that in the time of Pisistrato very singular importance was recognized to the rhapsodic recitations of Homer in the Panathenaean feasts. The technical conformation of the drama, both tragic and comic, is very instructive in this regard. It is composed of choral songs, which in homage to the provenance retain the Doric dialect, and of dialogic-narrative episodes, which are essentially Attic dialect, derived from the Ionic and more or less steeped in Ionisms (in essentially Attic dialect, because from the archaic and noble language of the epic one tries to gradually descend towards the common language). The choral songs, which at first occupy most of the drama, are reduced as time progresses and are increasingly overwhelmed by dialogue and narration or, better said, by action. This development of dialogue and action means that the Athenian spirit is not content with the narrow and fragmentary forms in which the lyric had necessarily stylized every vision of life, but rather tends towards the great organisms of fantasy and thought, where it is permissible to wander, reason, talk, embrace life in all its complexity. Yes

In essence, the process that we have seen carried out with their relatives, the Ionians, is repeated in the Attics – by analogous dispositions of spirit; who, due to their own instinctive pragmatic and logical tendencies, had replaced the short songs of deeds of the Aeolians with the great epic organisms, not sung but recited: epic organisms that only by Homer were conceived with vivacity of fantastic synthesis, in a way that say dramatic; while, after Homer, they became mostly heavy exposures of chronologically ordered facts. The advanced experiences of the times are naturally reflected in Athenian dramatic poetry: lyricism has taught us to deepen individual episodes by penetrating them into their subjectivity; the overly long narratives appeared devoid of movement and artistic effect:

Greece Dramatic Poetry 1