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The Main Components Of A Greek Tragedy

The Greek drama has a rich history. What began in Athens almost two millenniums ago is still strong enough and relevant enough to be read in the modern world. The Greek drama can be divided into 3 main parts: comedy, tragedy and satyrs. The concern of this piece is limited to the tragedy and its main elements.

The Plot

The plot of a Greek tragedy generally revolves around a protagonist who is good but makes a mistake that borders around injustice or a crime. There is a complete process through which he realizes he is at fault and then everything around him crumbles, his world in particular and the natural world in general. Thus, it follows a causal plot.

The Hero

The protagonist or the tragic hero has a good character. His audience likes him. Unlike a villain, who when makes a mistake is abhorred, the tragic hero is pitied and sympathized with. It brings about the opposite in the audience that is equally anxious and feels for him.


Hamartia or the tragic flaw is a must in Greek tragedy. It is this flaw that brings about the tragedy and the subsequent downfall of the protagonist. It may be pride or a bad decision taken at an inopportune time.


This is marked by the awakening and the realization of the protagonist concerning the play of destiny. Here he realizes how fate will play a major role in what transpires as a result of his mistake.


This part deals with the rectification of the situation that went berserk after the protagonist’s mistake. Here the protagonist is punished to bring order in the world.


This is the decisive phase where an action of the protagonist brings about a reversal in the ensuing situation. It goes from a secure and pleasant one to one that is weak.


One of the main purposes that a Greek tragedy fulfils is the purgation of the audience. The tragedy acts as a catharsis where initially they go through a roller coaster ride of fear and pity and eventually with the resolution of the conflict, find themselves filled with relief. This process provides with exhilaration.

The above constitute what makes a Greek tragedy. These components are its essence and without even a single one of the above, a Greek tragedy is incomplete. These dramas have fulfilled the purpose of entertainment for centuries, highlighting the moral weakness of the society and discretely being didactic in nature.

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