Drama is one aspect of entertainment that has experienced numerous changes over time. However, some practices in this field have been maintained over time. Therefore, similarities can be drawn between ancient and modern drama. One of the similarities that have been retained in the ancient and modern drama is its general purpose, which includes entertainment (Buckley, 1990). The sole objective of drama is to provide some form of education to the audience in an entertainment form where they can draw some lessons. In the past, there were no technological advancements such as the internet and equipment that could provide any kind of entertainment (Froese, 2004, pp 67-70). Therefore, drama and theaters were the primary tools of entertainment. In the modern world, drama is also seen as a way of entertaining, though there are other numerous ways in which entertainment is acquired (Buckley, 1990). A significant difference that exists between ancient and modern drama is atheism.
Atheism refers to the lack of belief in supreme beings, which include gods. One of the comparisons that can be drawn between ancient and modern drama is the connection between it and religion. In the past, religion was heavily involved in drama in countries such as Greece where gods were honored in dramas (Lefkowitz, 1989, pp 70-75). Temples used to be constructed near theaters and idols such as God Dionysus were honored every time performance was made. However, in the modern world, different culture has been introduced, and religion has less or not connection at all with drama (Froese, 2004, pp 59-69). The sector of drama in the current world is considered to be secular unlike in the ancient time since most people find no reason to involve gods in theaters while performing (Lefkowitz, 1989, pp 80-82). So as to understand the variation between ancient and modern drama regarding atheism, this paper reviews the two forms of entertainment separately, focusing mainly on how atheism is involved in both.
Atheism in Ancient Drama
Atheism is a term that was not common in the past among regions such as Greece. The Greek individuals are well known for their extensive contribution in the evolvement of drama, and therefore, the different manners in which they applied atheism in the practices must be considered. It normally argued that most Greeks were not conversant with the religion in the past (Buckley, 1990). This means that most Greeks did not involve any religious practices in most of their activities, some of which included drama. However, a few group of them used to honor different gods while they were acting in various theaters. This is because some signs of recognition could be seen in their acting, where they would refer to some of these gods (Froese, 2004, pp 70-75).
It's hard to acknowledge the Greeks were totally mainstream and did not honor religion in their practices. This is the reason a superior comprehension of Greek religion enlightens the way of worship and additionally the way of beliefs which keep on being taken after today (Bieber, 1961). This is especially in activities such as drama (Altizer, 1966). The practice of drama attracted numerous individuals due to its entertainment nature. Therefore, practicing religion in such an activity would help to make it spread in a broad region. Ancient drama used to honor gods as it was somehow seen as a form of worshiping (Lefkowitz, 1989, pp 70-74). Therefore, some of the plays had to make use of different forms of worship where they would include gods in their theaters and act in the name of such gods. Honoring Dionysus is probably the most common way in which religion was practiced in drama in the past (Bieber, 1961).
Dionysus was a Greek god who was given other titles such as the god of drama and music (Bieber, 1961). Women also used to refer to this idol as a god of fertility since they believed that the idol was highly involved in their productive capability (Lefkowitz, 1989, pp 78-82). A theater was specifically set aside for holding drama festivals in honor of this god by the Greeks. The drama festival in honor of this god was carried out in the city of Athens where different activities have been conducted by nearly all individuals of the city (Altizer, 1966). This is because they were well aware of this festival as it was done as a sign of respect to their god. By conducting this festival, the citizens of Greek believed that they would be blessed in their farming and other activities such as giving birth to healthy babies. Most of these drama festivals were carried out towards the harvesting season so has to have a fruitful harvest.
Different symbols were important for the individuals of Athens in their acting, and this included theatron, skene, and audience (Bieber, 1961). The three symbols were a sign of their value for theater activities in and how they believed in acting. Theatron was the place that was set aside for honoring the god of harvest by holding a drama (Bieber, 1961). In this place, different songs were made as a sign of introducing the drama that was about to be performed. Skene referred to the place where different scenes were made in the theater and by holding this drama in the skene, some sought of satisfaction was acquired by the Athens (Pickard, 1956). The audience, on the other hand, referred to the different individuals who came to watch the dramas in honor of Dionysus (Bieber, 1961). It's, therefore, clear that in the past, atheism was not very prevalent especially among the Greek since they used to believe in different gods and even held some drama festivals in his honor.
Atheism in Modern Drama
Over the last few centuries, acting has developed into a visual art that entertains people around the world in the form of stage plays or, in recent times, through the mediums of television and film. Atheism is well observed in the recent drama due to the lack of belief in gods in modern acting (Pickard, 1956). It can be argued that current acting has taken huge strides and there is a lot of disparity compared to ancient acting (Buckley, 1990). Technology has influenced this field by a great deal, and most of the changes currently experienced are as a result of the improvements in technology. Some of the scenes that are witnessed in modern drama give a clear indication that there is no involvement of religion in drama (Pickard, 1956). Though few cases of honoring gods are seen, most of the acting seen in the modern world portray atheism.
One of the reasons why atheism is common in modern acting is due to the different performances that are considered in a drama. Sex scenes are currently being including in drama, and this is a clear indication that there are no regards given to various forms of gods. This is because if religion were present, this would be considered as an immoral act and therefore, it would be rebuked in modern drama (Pickard, 1956). However, the act continues to be practiced in different occasions, and therefore, its clear that atheism is a common practice. The drama has changed from a religious practice in the past to a secular activity in the modern world. This means that there is no connection between ancient and modern drama since modern performers value other things apart from religion in their acting such as fitness.
Being a secular field has turned drama into an activity that is aimed at achieving other objectives apart from honoring gods. Modern drama is seen as a career by most individuals where those who participate in it can earn income. Therefore, the sole purpose of drama in the modern society is to provide a living for those who are involved in it. This makes it different from ancient drama where people could participate in a drama for free with an objective of honoring their gods. As such, individuals who are involved in modern drama find it necessary to put a distinction between drama and religion (Pickard, 1956). This means that some of them would do almost anything while acting, even if it means breaking the laws of religion, as long as they are getting a good income in return.
It's, however, common to find some acting being carried out to honor some religious events in the past. Some films have been produced to portray different activities that used to happen in the past, specifically in the Bible (De Lubac, 1975). Other films are performed to show how God was involved in an event or the survival of an individual through the power of God (De Lubac, 1975). From these films, one can claim that there is a belief in gods in modern drama though it occurs in fewer quantities. Furthermore, the actors who are involved in these films only follow a script and their main aim is also to earn a living. Most of them perform the dramas without the sense of belief in gods in them, meaning that they also portray atheism (Pickard, 1956).
Features That Makes a Play an Atheist Play
For a play to be atheist in nature, it means that there is no form of honoring supreme beings in it. Therefore, there is no form of sacrifices or worship in such a play, and no gods are honored in it (De Lubac, 1975). As discussed in the paper, this is the most common occurrence on modern plays where no characteristics of honoring any supernatural forces are portrayed in them (Sidney, 1982). Ancient plays were not atheist in nature since some of them had idols in them (Sidney, 1982). Players to honor different gods were typical on such plays, and this makes it evident that ancient dramas were practicing different worships (Pickard, 1956). Modern dramas, on the other hand, are purely atheists and are therefore considered secular in nature.
If idols, temples and different forms of worships are present in play, such a play is not an atheist (Westphal, 1998). On the other hand, if a play doesnt mention any gods, uses a regular language where there is no mention of spirits or supreme beings, then such a play is an atheist play. In these plays, entertainment is delivered without the inclusion of religion in it (Westphal, 1998). Therefore, actors and actresses in such plays will do anything to provide entertainment, and mostly there is no honor given to gods. A play must portray some of these features for it to be considered as an atheist play by the audience and other scholars (Westphal, 1998).
The Idea of Atheism
In the past, it was believed that atheism was against general religion. People did not believe that it was possible to practice religion without honoring supreme beings. Deities had to be present in any form of activity such as acting and worshiping for such activity to be considered religious (De Lubac, 1975). As a result, different deities such as the god of music and fertility in Greek were present while acting for the field of entertainment to be considered religious in nature (Westphal, 1998). In the modern world, however, it's common to find individuals who have faith and practice religion without necessarily having a physical idol in their presence (De Lubac, 1975). People believe in a spirit that cannot be seen in the modern world religion, and therefore, Atheism is not considered to be against religion.
Among the Islam culture, different aspects of Quran and Hadith have made it to be against atheism (Hameed, 2008). The two are specific in the Islamic culture against believing in gods at one moment and then changing the mind after a while. Allah is considered as a god who should be worshiped continuously, and their deep faith is some activities make the Muslims to be considered against Atheism (Hameed, 2008). Unlike other religions, the Islamic culture is strict against atheists and states that faith should only be towards Allah and no other gods. It's, therefore, clear that in the modern society, atheism is considered to be against the Islamic culture.
It can be concluded that...
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