What Do I Read Next?
Aristotle’s Poetics is the first critical work focusing on tragedy as an art form. Written about 380 B.C., the Poetics provides an extensive analysis of the genre.
Eugene O’Neill is considered to be one of the few modern American tragedians. His Mourning Becomes Electra (1932), a trilogy, is a reworking of the Oresteia trilogy. It is set in Puritan New England during the Civil War. O’Neill wanted to create a modern psychological tragedy that utilized the mythology and legend of ancient Greece.
Several post–World War II French writers have attempted to revitalize the Greek tragedy through more contemporary plays. Jean-Paul Sartre’s Flies (1943) is based on Eumenides, the final play of the Oresteia trilogy. Jean Anouilh’s Antigone (1942) is based on Sophocles’ play of the same name. In both plays, political ideals and rebellions are used instead of religious ideals and actions.
Opera arose out of ancient Greek tragedy. Many of the greatest operas, such as Clause Monteverdi’s Orfeo, are based on the plays and myths of ancient Greece.
Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music (1872) argues that Greek tragedy arose out of a fusion of Apollonian and Dionysian elements. Apollonian elements represent measure, restraint, and harmony, and Dionysian elements represent unrestrained passion. Nietzsche also believes that Socratic rationalism and optimism brought about the end of Greek tragedy.