Dyskolos the Play's Genre Plays Term Paper

  • Length: 14 pages
  • Subject: Family and Marriage
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #39056552
  • Related Topic: Costumes, Actor, Plays

Excerpt from Term Paper :

The doors, are metaphors for the "gates of love" that any person would have wanted to be a part of http://homepage.usask.ca/~jrp638/abstracts/cody.html, para 7).

Props such as the vessels carried by the women characters in the play also represent the womb for which horrifies Knemon when his daughter had offered Sostratos to fill in the shrine next door. The use of the hoe for which Sostratos had borrowed from Gorgias is as well a Greek metaphor for sexual encounters http://homepage.usask.ca/~jrp638/abstracts/cody.html, para 8-9),

Acting Styles of the Original Production

Theaters in the ancient times were so huge that it is capable of housing thousands of spectators. The problems that confronted the Greek actors for such situations were that they were literally dwarfed on stage by their surroundings. Tiny movements may be invisible for the audience at the far end of the theater. Thus, there is a need for exaggeration on the actors' actions for emphasis. Costumes and props are helpful elements in this situation. However, facial expressions were one of the essential aspects in the play. Masks were therefore used to solve this problem. The principal traits of the character portrayed could be expressed in the mask, and a simple convention arose in which types of characters had their own types of masks. Therefore, the hero and heroine, the old man, the slaves, etc., were easily identifiable on first appearance because of the masks. As each character stepped upon the stage, he can easily be recognized at once by the audience as an old friend (www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1984/2/84.02.07.x.html).

Because of the use of these masks, women's parts were played by men. As a result, there were no theater actresses when the original production of Menander's Dyskolos was staged http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1984/2/84.02.07.x.html, para 25). Actors are at the same time allowed to play several roles in the play since costume and masks may set apart their characters or roles from one to another. Thus, the number of actors playing in a particular play may be very limited. Dyskolos, may nevertheless require only five to six actors, excluding the chorus though.

The masks used in the production speak of the different roles of the characters on stage. Humor in the play was probably based on both verbal and actual representations of each character. On the other hand, the masks and the exaggerated movements of the actors were more of the basis in the play's comic element. Dialogues may only add up to this unique element of New Comedy genre. The audience near the stage may be of advantage since they would not find it hard to identify every movement of the actors. Conversely, people at the far end of the theater may need a telescope in order to distinguish the acts. Thus, the dialogues are as well important.

The Cultural Context of the Play's Original Production

When the New Comedy genre in the Greek literature had become popular, Athens had been into an extremely frenzied political and social prodigy. After it had lost its political independence in 338 B.C. And the death of Alexander the Great, the city revolted against the Macedonian rule however defeated in the end. When Demetrius was appointed viceroy until 307 B.C., he favored the wealthy aristocrats, relieving them of their duties shouldered by the state. He was also responsible in stopping the theorica, a fund which paid the wages of working men during the days of festivals so that they could attend the theatre without loss of pay. Therefore, when these working men attend to the theater, a day's pay is lost, although they were not prevented from going such leisure activities. As a result, there was lesser audience watching the plays staged at that time, limiting only to those who can afford to go without considering a day's loss of pay at work http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1984/2/84.02.07.x.html, para 3).

Therefore, Menander, having been experienced this situation had observed in the society the great difference in the social and economic status of the Athenians and the courtesans. Citizenship requires at this point 1000 drachmas that had worsened when Antipater implemented the 2000 drachmas for citizen status. Marriage had at this point, was deprived between the non-citizens and the Athenians (Lape, 2001).

Menander's comedies were obvious representations of the daily lives of the Athenian society - a society structured by inequalities against which the egalitarianism of the democratic political order was defined. In Dyskolos, Sostratos and Knemon's family were of different economic status although they were politically equal. Wealth was a prerequisite in experiencing passion in the society (Lape, 2001).

Dyskolos agrees to this situation such that one of its main characters had made eros operate as a kind of social solvent, dissolving distinctions between rich and poor and town and country to produce a more homogeneous and egalitarian social order. Sostratos's romantic passion for the daughter of a citizen he believes to be impoverished detaches social relations in the play from conventional constraints. There is, however, a crucial difference because Sostratos does not rape the heroine. Sostratos's wealth does not, as he anticipates, make him eminently suitable husband material but rather acts to call his character into question. It is precisely because Sostratos has not made his marriage a matter of necessity by raping the girl in advance that he must prove to his highly suspicious social and economic "inferiors" that he is actually worthy of the marriage (Lape, 2001).

Athens at that time had remained to the end of the distant past the center of art, science, philosophy and rhetoric, however life became comfortable and commonplace. In addition, because of these situations, more attention was given to personal characters in life that played a more significant role in comedy. The sorrows, joys, manners, and peculiarities of individual citizens became the subjects of both tragedy and comedic plays (www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1984/2/84.02.07.x.html).

Having seen themselves in the characters on stage, the general public appreciated the play at the time of its inception. The public had seen themselves in the characters played in Dyskolos, thus they were able to relate to the social, political and economic status in the play.

Critical Approaches through the Ages/Revivals

Even though Dyskolos had won Menander first prize since it was first presented on stage in 317 B.C., there was no evidence that there were several other productions held of the play since. The reason for such may be the loss of Menander's plays in the 7th and 8th centuries a.D. due to the Arab incursions and Byzantine neglect. However, in the third century B.C. Menander gained popularity over his 100 plays written for the Greeks. But after his success during his time, it was only after a millennium since Menander died when his comic plays had become popular (Hornblower & Spawforth, 2000).

On the other hand, Roman playwrights Plautus and Terence were said to have patterned their comic plays from Menander. They have remained the only New Comedy writers after Menander's numerous comic plays (Webster, 1953).

It has always been difficult to assess how far his Latin adaptors Plautus and Terence modified Menander's works for the Roman stage, although the tattered fragments of Dis Exapaton now reveal that Plautus' adaptation at Bacchides was freer than most scholars had previously imagined. Plautus' Cistellaria was based on Menander's Synaristosai ('Women Lunching Together'), Stichus on Adelphoi ('Brothers') 1, Terence's Adelphoe on Adelphoi 2, Andria on Andria ('Woman of Andros') and Perinthia, Eunuchus on Eunouchos ('Eunuch') and Kolax; Plautus' Aulularia has often been thought to derive from Menander (Hornblower & Spawforth, 2000).

It was in 1957 when the original and the complete papyrus manuscript of Menander's Dyskolos that the play had become once again popular. The papyrus had been purchased by the Swiss bibliophile Martin Bodmer, and studied by Professor Victor Martin of the University of Geneva (Balme, 2001).

In 2002, an adaptation of Dyskolos was staged in St. Elizabeth Greek Theater, Florham Park, New Jersey. However, no longer entitled Dyskolos, its director King Jones had used its English translation, "The Grouch" instead. Jones, who had been directing in theatre for a long time was still fascinated by the play himself. However, the setting of the play was somehow patterned to the modern society for which Sostratos' character is one who came from the city, although his wealth was still a representation of his power in the play. It ran for several days and brought again to life by the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival (Beckerman, 2002).

Due to the changing political rulers in Greece, theatre art was neglected leaving these significant plays like Mendanders' had been forgotten as time had passed. The social status and preferences of the society as well changed along with its rulers. Although significant cultural, social and political situations were experienced by the Greek society, production of plays was no longer the important consideration of the state.

Aside from this, several other adaptations of Dyskolos may have been staged after its initial production during the Lenaean festival, however they may have mot been as…

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