In BBC’s documentary “Ancient Greece The Greatest Show on Earth – Democrats,” the history of Athenian theater and how it influenced the creation of democracy. Theater was a large part of Athenian life and would grow to influence politics, language, philosophy, art and architecture.it was created around the 6th century b.c. and was the first time that stories were enacted rather than narrated.
Fast forward to today, and many of the stories of today draw their lineage to the greek tragedies of the past. I enjoy many series on netflix, as well as movies; one athenian plot point that is still used in modern digital media is that of arrogance. One quote from the play, The Persians, is “you see how insolence once opened into flowers, produces fields ripe with calamity, and reaps a harvest-home of sorrow.” This was written after the the defeat of the persians and it depicts Persian royalty despairing because they could not believe that they faced a defeat. Many movies I see today, especially superhero movies, will have a main antagonist that is driven by arrogance and a feeling of superiority.
Greek theater has always been very politicized, and allowed citizens to come together and practice democratic actions; community leaders would showcase their generosity, and interact with the general population. One of the popular plays, which had a political undertone was that of Ajax. Ajax feels wronged after he does not get weapons of a famous warrior, but instead they go to odysseus. Ajax goes on a killing spree and commits suicide but odysseus still argues that Ajax deserves a burial for the afterlife. The quote, “don’t let force have such control of you that you allow your hate to trample justice down” has meaning today, because it suggests that even murderers should still be treated equally under the law, in this case, the law of burial.
I think that Greek comedies will continue to be an important part of society as political tensions rise, so does the satirical content that is meant to ridicule powerful individuals; Comedy is way to change people’s minds by coming off as non-divisive, as it is in such a palatable form. Comedy gets people to let their mental defenses down which allows more receptive to new ideas like political dissonance. This was the case in Athenian theaters, courtroom jesters, and the late night sitcoms of today.