(Original post by reebop)
i think nosmos means 'rules'? not sure about the others - we havent done much of the greek terms" gulp! anyone know a good resource?
Let's go with the following list, which is not exhaustive but is at least a start:
PHYSIS and NOMOS
Some people talk about this as "nature versus nurture". Essentially this is the conflict between what is natural
(physis - think of "physics" dealing with the natural world) and what is man made
(nomos). The "natural" world includes religion and the gods; the "man made" world includes government, man's laws etc. It's an idea from Greek philosophy.
So in Antigone the central conflict between Antigone, upholding the laws of the gods, and Creon, upholding his own laws, is a classic conflict between physis and nomos. Oedipus clings to his command of the city in defiance of the inevitability of the supernatural. Hippolytus's obsession with religious purity is undone by Theseus's command that he be exiled and put to death (although the boundaries between physis and nomos are a little fuzzier here). What about the Medea do you think applies to this contrast of ideas?
Hamartia literally means "mistake". Although there is some debate about the exact way "hamartia' should be applied to tragedy, you should either use it to describe:
i) an error that a character makes that brings about the "tragic" part of the play
ii) a flaw in a character's personality that leads them to their downfall
I'd prefer the first option. For instance, in Antigone, it is Creon's proclamation that Polyneices be unburied that sets the tragedy in motion; in Hippolytus, it is his refusal to honour Aphrodite; in Medea, Jason's spurning of his wife. What do you think the mistake that Oedipus makes is? Remember that the "hamartia" is not always that of the title character!
Hubris is "insolence" - the idea that you are better than the gods/religion. Hubris is punished with disaster.
Nemesis, or "vengeance", is the punishment you receive for your hubris!
I wouldn't be too concerned about the use of this word, but what it means is incredibly
important. Opsis literally means "sight" and is used to describe the staging and spectacle of a production. Remember that tragedy was written to be performed, not just to be read! What about these plays is exciting to see? Medea appears from the roof of the palace in the mechane, in a place normally reserved for the gods, in a chariot drawn by dragons! Oedipus returns to the stage blinded! The chorus sing and dance down in the orchestra between scenes! There are costumes and masks and all sorts of things that would make it interesting to see what was going on. Always consider elements of staging when looking at tragedy.
The "turning point" of a Greek tragedy. The moment when the tragic protagonist shifts from a "high place" (i.e. being in control) to a "low place" (being corrupted, or struck with disaster etc.) through some massive change in the status quo. Oedipus learns that he's definitely boffed his mother and immediately laid low; Theseus condemns Hippolytus to death; etc. etc.
This sometimes comes at the same time as an ANAGNORESIS, or "realisation" - basically when someone finds something out, usually through learning news from a messenger character or similar.
"Cleansing" - one of the main purposes of Greek tragedy according to Aristotle. You go along, you watch a play, awful stuff happens because people are disrespecting the gods, and you purge yourself of all your negative emotions by having a good cry, being shocked at what's happened in the play etc. You come away thinking both "glad this didn't happen to me!" and "aren't the gods all powerful? we must respect them!". That's catharsis.
There are lots of other fancy terms but I think those are probably a good few to be getting on with at this late stage.