Oral tradition

Outline

  1. Introduction

Oral tradition is the method that people use to pass information from one generation to another. Ancient Greek was one of the areas that oral tradition was popular. Matter of fact, most of the literature we know today originated from Greek. The Greek favored spoken word more to written word. Most of the literates criticized written forms and preferred spoken word.    Most of the literature in the ancient Greek was spoken not written. This paper will focus on the changes if any that have occurred to the oral traditions of the ancient Greek due to the change of communication in modern communication methods. The paper will analyze how the oral tradition were spoken in the ancient Greece and compare that to how it done today. The paper will start with a background of the oral tradition in ancient Greece, the types of oral tradition and modern types of oral tradition.

  1. Definition

This section will define the meaning of oral tradition in the general terms.

  1. Oral tradition in ancient Greek

The section will be interested in the background of oral literature in Greece and the early forms of the same.

  1. Genres of ancient Greek oral traditions
  2. The Greek Tragedy
  3. The Greek Comedy
  • Lyrical poetry
  1. Modern methods of communication and oral traditions

This section will compare the methods that were used in the ancient Greece to the methods that are used today.

  1. Conclusion

 

 

Works cited

Beaton, Roderick. “The oral traditions of Modern Greece: a survey.” Oral Tradition 1 (1986): 110-133.

Dué, Casey. “Ancient Greek Oral Genres.” Oral Tradition 18.1 (2003): 62-64.

Hansen, William. “Odysseus and the Oar Greek Mythology and Folklore.” Approaches to Greek Myth (2014): 247

Holmberg, Ingrid “The Creation of the Ancient Greek Epic Cycle” Oral Tradition 13:2 (1998): 456-478

Karanika, Andromache. “Memories of Poetic Discourse in Athena’s Cult Practices.'” Athena in the Classical World. Leiden (2001): 277-91

Nagy, Gregory. “Oral Poetics and Homeric Poetry.” Oral Tradition 18.1 (2003): 73-75.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Draft

  1. Introduction

Oral tradition kept people’s culture alive. They were passed from generation to generation by a word of mouth by people narrating their history, beliefs and values. In ancient Greece many literature took the orally way rather than the written one even if the ancient Greece is known for written literature. Most Greek literature was meant to be heard or sung and was therefore passed orally. The highly literate people had a distaste for written literature. Even the politics in ancient Greece was oral. People listened to politicians’ debate in Assembly and they would vote for them there and then.   Rhetoric was the main way of education in the ancient Greece. Any civilized man in Greece had to be able to speak well in public. Ancient Greek placed considerable emphasis on literature. Where written literature existed it was read out aloud. Herodotus, who was a famous historian, was known to give public readings.   Most of the literature in the ancient Greek was spoken not written. This paper will focus on the changes if any that have occurred to the oral traditions of the ancient Greek due to the change of communication in modern communication methods. The paper will analyze how the oral tradition were spoken in the ancient Greece and compare that to how it done today. The paper will start with a background of the oral tradition in ancient Greece, the types of oral tradition and modern types of oral tradition.

The Greek oral tradition formed a huge, interconnected, and variegated web of legendary and mythical narratives. Any oral tradition narrative is characterized by its fluidity, lack of boundaries and closure, (Holmberg, Ingrid, 1998).

  1. Definition

Oral tradition refers to cultural material transmitted verbally from one generation to another without the support of writing. It may take many forms: jokes, sayings, narrative poetry, songs, folktales, genealogies, and praise poetry. For times preceding to the invention of writing, oral tradition served as the sole means of communication available for forming and maintaining societies and their institutions. Oral tradition represents a vital and multifunctional means of verbal communication that supports diverse activities in diverse cultures. Communications that were made orally were later transferred to books and journals through writing. That explains the reason why the Illaid and Odyssey are still relevant today even after so many years have passed.

  1. Oral tradition in ancient Greek

Many years after the arrival of the alphabet in Greece, most literates were able to leave a substantial body of literature in writing.  One would think that ancient Greek relied heavily on written literature. This is however not true because the spoken literature took the first place. Most Greek literature was meant to be heard not read. Poets composed poets in their heads and orally presented them to the audiences. To the Greeks spoken word was a living thing and they preferred it to the written language. In ancient Greece, storytellers were held in a very high regard. In Athens, there were festivals that were held after four years and storytellers competed to tell the most compelling and entertaining stories. They were allowed to exaggerate as long they did not change the basic facts about the stories that were well known among the people.

Illiad and the Odyssey remain the most prominent forms of oral tradition of the ancient Greece. The two events took place during the Mycenaean age. Between the two events there was a period where people lost the ability to write during the Trojan War. The two were able passed through generation because they were passed orally and were later written. The events during the war are remembered and celebrated. This means that they were passed from generation to generation before they were finally written down. The lliad and Odyssey which was a Homer’s epic was presented in these festivals.

  1. Genres of ancient Greek oral traditions

There were so many genres of oral tradition that were performed in the ancient Greek. The most common ones were tragedies and comedies. They are discussed in this article.

  1. The Greek Tragedy

It developed in the 6th Century in the Attica Region around Athens. It was written and performed by mostly by men. Thespis was the first recorded actor who won the first theoretical contest. Female parts were also performed by men. It was a popular and influential drama that was performed in theaters in ancient Greece. Some argue that tragedy began in Athens in 5th century BC. These works are sometimes refried to as Attic tragedy. It was carried out in honor of Dionysia. They mostly consist of myths from the archaic epics. The dramatics were important the Athenians. They even created a competition for tragedies and festivals.

  1. The Greek Comedy

This was one of the final three principal dramatic forms in the theatre of classical Greece in the 6th century BCE. The most known playwrights of this genre were Aristophanes and Menander. Their works poked fun at politician, philosophers and even fellow artists. This genre gave an overview of the general lives of the Greeks legal systems, political instructions and their religious practices.  During the 5th Century BCE, comedies were performed in competition for over three days. The plays were then judged by a panel of ten judges chosen by the lot. The plot stretches reality in relations to time and place and rapidly changes the scenes. This genre continued to be popular during the Hellenistic and Roman times.

  • Lyric poetry

This focus on particular events or functions. The type of poetry called lyric got its name from the fact that it was originally sung by individuals or a chorus accompanied by the lyre. Many of the lyric poetries were composed to mark public or private occasions. They were performed during a drinking party at times. These lyrics commemorated different occasions including commemoration of the dead, exhortation of soldiers and religious devotions among others.

  1. Modern methods of communication and oral traditions

In the modern world, most of the people depend on written materials. If one is illiterate then getting the information that one needs to know about culture will be impossible. Modern ways of communication have become ways through which messages are passed from generation to generation. There are so many methods in which people communicate today. People today communicate by means of mobile phones, books, magazines and newspapers. The internet has also emerged as one of the ways in which people in different parts of the world communicate. This in a large way has affected oral traditions and their transmissions. It is rare that one finds a crowd of people who are listening to a narration from a narrator or a storyteller telling a story. Most of the methods of communication today depend on writing. People depend on the internet to get most of their news. The world is becoming a virtual world and people are just using virtual objects to communicate.

The modern methods of communication might have affected how oral tradition is passed but it has not killed it completely. People still communicate face to face and share stories. Beliefs, ideas and jokes when they communicate face to face. As long as a message is passed through the word of mouth then it qualifies to be called oral tradition. Oral tradition is still alive today but it is not as prevalent as it was in ancient Greek.

  1. Conclusion

Storytellers in the ancient Greece were given a very vital role in the society. They were an important role to play in society. Similarly, today most of the storytellers are important in the society. Today, they  refer to the books that were written in the earlier days to spice up their stories. They listen to audios that were recorded in the ancient times in indigenous languages. The modern day discussions of the Greece oral poetry and Homer there is involvement of romanticism.

In modern days there is circulation of oral tradition. There is the sharing of jokes, beliefs, ideas and stories today. Oral traditions have not disappeared. However, the oral literature has changed. Just like written word oral literature is bound to changes.  They are still there but technology has changed them. The art of the oral telling is now caught in a digital platform, film or paper.  Oral tradition always change s from one telling to another depending on the mood of the teller, the place of telling and the responses of the audiences. While the social media is quickly taking pace, the oral traditions are still alive. However, it might completely disappear if the social world continues to grow.

 

 

 

 

 

Works cited

Beaton, Roderick. “The oral traditions of Modern Greece: a survey.” Oral Tradition 1 (1986): 110-133.

Dué, Casey. “Ancient Greek Oral Genres.” Oral Tradition 18.1 (2003): 62-64.

Hansen, William. “Odysseus and the Oar Greek Mythology and Folklore.” Approaches to Greek Myth (2014): 247

Holmberg, Ingrid “The Creation of the Ancient Greek Epic Cycle” Oral Tradition 13:2 (1998): 456-478

Karanika, Andromache. “Memories of Poetic Discourse in Athena’s Cult Practices.'” Athena in the Classical World. Leiden (2001): 277-91

Nagy, Gregory. “Oral Poetics and Homeric Poetry.” Oral Tradition 18.1 (2003): 73-75.

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