What is the tragedy?

We explain what a tragedy is and what was the origin of this literary form. In addition, some examples and what is the Greek tragedy.

  1. What is the tragedy?

It is called tragedy to a literary (dramatic) and theatrical form cultivated since ancient times , in which situations of conflict in which a character or a series of them, usually of illustrious or heroic type, are represented with a solemn tone they are faced because of a fatal error or of the forms of their character to an irremediably sad destiny, which usually leads to the death , madness or exile of the protagonist.

The word tragedy comes from the Greek voice  tragoedia , which literally means “singing of the goat”, a song that was sung in Athens during the holidays that honored the god Dionysus. The first to represent tragedies to be witnessed by the citizens of their cities were the ancient Greeks, who gave theater and lyrical representation an important role in the political, moral and ethical education of their citizenship.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle, first to formally study the tragic genre in his  Poetics  (IV BC), defined it as the highest of the forms of artistic representation, since it showed the events directly to the viewer (without mediation by narrators) and because it showed to men taller than they really are, so that their fall from grace had a cathartic effect on the audience.

  1. Origin of the tragedy

The tragedy was represented for the first time in Ancient Greece (1200 – 146 BC), initially attributed to the poet Tespis (c. 550-500 BC), whose works barely survive fragments. However, his legacy allowed the later emergence of the great Greek playwrights: Aeschylus (525-456 BC), Sophocles (496-406 BC) and Euripides (c. 484-406 BC),

After the conquest of Greece by the Roman Empire, the tragedy was inherited along with large segments of Greek culture (for example, the Roman gods are the same, but with Latin names), which were incorporated into Roman practices.

The first Latin tragedy was composed by Livio Andrónico and represented in the year 514 of the founding of Rome (240 BC). Later they would compose their Transitions of Ennio, Marco Pacuvio and Seneca.

  1. Examples of tragedy

Hamlet by William Shakespeare, is one of the most famous tragedies in history.

Some known classical tragedies are:

  • Of Aeschylus:  The Persians ,  The Seven Against Thebes ,  The Supplicants , the  Orestiad  (composed of  Agamemnon ,  The  Coéforas  and  The  Euménides ) and  Chained Prometheus .
  • Sophocles:  Ajax ,  Philoctetes ,  Electra ,  The  traqu í Nias ,   Oedipus Rex ,  Oedipus at Colonus ,  Antigone .
  • From Euripides:  Medea ,  The  Heraclids ,  The Trojans ,  The Bacchantes ,  Iphigenia among the  Taurus ,  Iphigenia in  Áulide ,  Orestes ,  Phenicia ,  Hippolytus , among others.

Instead, some modern tragedies:

  • William Shakespeare:  Hamlet ,  Otello ,  Andronic Titus  ,  King Lear ,  The Tempest ,  Macbeth , among many others.
  • De Lope de Vega:  The daughter of the air ,  The castle without revenge ,  The painter of her dishonor , among many others.
  • From Federico García Lorca:  Yerma ,  Bernarda Alba’s house ,  Blood Wedding .
  • From Georg Büchner:  Woyzek .
  • From Jean Racine:  Iphigenia ,  Berenice ,  Athalia ,  Alexander the Great ,  Fedra , among others.
  1. Greek tragedy

The great Greek playwrights: Esquilo, Sófocles and Eurípides, left skies of tragic works that inherited their episodes of the myths and religious songs of the time , in which the ventures or misadventures of the great Greek heroes were recounted, within the framework of the great wars (as was the Trojan War).

These initial tragedies had a fairly fixed structure, which according to Aristotle was divided into prologue, episode and exodus , along with two choir interventions that are the párodo and the very latter.

The Greek tragedy is considered the cradle of Western literature, as well as Aristotle’s text that describes it as the first literary theory text to exist.

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