Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Messenger

The Messenger in Greek Drama

The Messenger is essentially a narrator who tells the story of an episode or set of events that have taken place elsewhere and/or at a different time than the location defined by the Skene which is often the outside of the front of a palace or cavern or temple, or the current time in the drama.

angelos [ἄγγελος]
The messenger or herald who brings news from afar, off-scene

exangelos   [ἐξάγγελος]
A messenger who brings out the news from within the palace, cavern, or temple.

Messenger-Rhesis or messenger speech scene

Rhesis [ῥῆσις] Rhesis is the technical term for a speech in a play

Critical news from offstage from either inside a building or from a distant location,  conveyed typically in a scene reporting that news either to the chorus by itself or to any appropriate character present on stage with the chorus. Such a scene would typically appear about two-thirds to four-fifths of the way through a play. Some plays can have two messenger scenes. Typically, the messenger character brings essential news (critical to the drama) narrating about events that have taken place off-set. Typically the messenger gives the essence of the news in a short dialogue, and then he is asked by the actor or chorus to give the whole story, which he does so in a rhesis or long speech or monologue which can be up to 80 or even 100 lines in length.

Bremer (1976) says that messenger speeches made it possible to present events at locations different from where the chorus happened to be: crowd scenes, miracles, and murders all of which were not really feasible to act whilst the chorus was in the arena of the orchestra.

Most of the extant dramas have at least one messenger speech, the device is most conspicuous in the plays by Euripides and Sophocles, less so in the works by Aeschylus.

The stories related in messenger scenes were popular with audiences and found their way as scenes depicted on thousands of vases produced in Greece or its colonies during those times.

James Barrett (2002). Staged Narrative: Poetics and the Messenger in Greek Tragedy. Chapter 2: The Literary Messenger, the Tragic Messenger: University of California Press. pp. 23–. ISBN 978-0-520-92793-3.

James Barrett (2002). Staged Narrative: Poetics and the Messenger in Greek Tragedy. Appendix: Messengers in Greek Tragedy: University of California Press. pp. 223–. ISBN 978-0-520-92793-3.

Irene J. F. De Jong (1991). Narrative in Drama: The Art of the Euripidean Messenger-Speech. Why Messenger-Speeches: BRILL. pp. 117–. ISBN 90-04-09406-7.

R. B. Rutherford (10 May 2012). Greek Tragic Style: Form, Language and Interpretation. V Messenger Speech: Cambridge University Press. pp. 200–. ISBN 978-1-107-37707-3.

S Perris - ASCS 32 Selected Proceedings, 2011 Australia

Arthur Dale Trendall; Thomas Bertram Lonsdale Webster (1971). Illustrations of Greek drama. Phaidon. ISBN 978-0-7148-1492-6.

The Messenger in Greek Tragedy - JStor

News and Messaging in Aeschylean Tragedy and their Impact on Internal and External Audiences
2019 Fitzgerald ES PhD.pdf

J. M. Bremer, « Why messenger-speeches? », in Miscellanea Tragica in honorem J. C. Kamerbeek, J. M. Bremer, S. L. Radt et C. J. Ruijgh ed., Amsterdam, 1976, pp. 29-48.

Pathmanathan, R. Sri. “Death in Greek Tragedy.” Greece & Rome, vol. 12, no. 1, 1965, pp. 2–14. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/642398  [On the taboo of onstage death]

keryx | Meaning, History, & Hermes | Britannica

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