Skene, Satyr, Soliloquy & Strophe in Tragedy

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      Skene, (from Greek skçnç, ‘scene-building’), in ancient Greek theatre, is a building behind the playing area that was originally a hut for the changing of masks and costumes but eventually became the background before which the drama was enacted. In the Theatre of Ancient Greece and classical drama, the skene was the structure at the back of a theatre stage, initially a very light structure or just cloth hanging from a rope, but by the start of Roman Greece, a large and complex stone building on several levels. The proscenium or space in front of the scene became, after the Classic period, the stage platform, raised above the original orchestra level.


      The satyr play can be considered the reversal of Attic tragedy, a kind of ‘joking tragedy’. The actors play mythical heroes engaged in action drawn from traditional mythical tales, but the chorus members are satyrs, guided by old Silenus. Satyr plays were an ancient Greek form of tragi-comedy, similar in spirit to the bawdy satire of burlesque. They featured choruses of satyrs, which were based on Greek mythology, and were rife with mock drunkenness, brazen sexuality (including phallic props), pranks, sight gags, and general merriment. Satyric drama was one of the three varieties of Athenian drama, the other two being tragedy and comedy.


      A soliloquy (from Latin solo ‘to oneself’ + loquor ‘I talk’) is a device often used in drama when a character speaks to himself or herself relating thoughts and feelings, thereby also sharing them with the audience’ giving off the illusion of being a series of unspoken reflections. A soliloquy is a popular literary device often used in drama to reveal the innermost thoughts of a character. It is a great technique used to convey the progress of action of the play by means of expressing a character’s thoughts about a certain character or past, present or upcoming event while talking to himself without acknowledging the presence of any other person. A soliloquy is often used as a means of character revelation or character manifestation to the reader or the audience of the play. Due to a lack of time and space, it was sometimes considered essential to present information about the plot and to expose the feelings and intentions of the characters. Dramatists made extensive use of soliloquies in their plays but it has become outdated, though some playwrights still use it in their plays. Soliloquy examples abound during the Elizabethan era. The most famous Shakespearean soliloquies (and indeed, the most famous soliloquy in the English language) are found in three of his plays - Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. For example, perhaps the best known opening line to a Shakespeare soliloquy is “to be or not to be ...” from Hamlet.


      A strophe is a poetic term originally referring to the first part of the ode in Ancient Greek tragedy, followed by the antistrophe and epode. The term has been extended to also mean a structural division of a poem containing stanzas of varying line and length.

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