What are the five parts of a Greek tragedy?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Most Greek tragedies have a fairly standard structure. There are actually two ways you can divide a Greek tragedy into parts, one by literary form and one by type of action. Literary critics use both sets of terminology.

1. Prologue -- spoken by characters before the chorus enters
2. Parados (entrance song) -- sung by the chorus as it first enters
3. Episode -- discussions among the 2-3 individual actors. A play is composed of several episodes.
4. Stasimon (standing song): Between episodes, the chorus dances and sings choral odes in the area known as the orchestra (Greek for "dancing place")
5: Exodos (leaving song): sung chorus sings while leaving

Some critics divide the action of a play can be divided into  exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and dénouement, although not all plays fit this structure precisely.

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thetall | (Level 3) Educator

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Greek tragedy followed a specific structure that not only told the story but also communicated the underlying moral lesson. Music was an important part of such plays, however, only the words have survived in what is available today. Most tragedies revolved around the fall or redemption of the hero with pride being the likely weakness. Greek tragedies were structured as follows:

  • Prologue: The presentation of the tragedy’s topic delivered through a monologue or dialogue.
  • Parode/Parados: An explanation of what has happened, delivered through an expressive chant of the chorus.
  • Episode: The section was considered the most central part of the play, where the actor/s interacted with the chorus through dialogues.
  • Stasimon: The section was delivered by the chorus and was meant to comment on or provide an explanation for the episodes.
  • Exode/Exodos: This section came after the last episode and was the final song sung by the chorus, where the moral of the play was delivered.

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