The History Of Greek Theater

Word Count: 2521 |

Theater and drama in Ancient Greece took form in about 5th century BCE, with the Sopocles, the great writer of tragedy. In his plays and those of the same genre, heroes and the ideals of life were
depicted and glorified. It was believed that man should live for honor and fame, his action was courageous and glorious and his life would climax in a great and noble death.

Originally, the hero’s recognition was created by selfish behaviors and little thought of service to others. As the Greeks grew toward city-states and colonization, it became the destiny and ambition of the hero to gain honor by serving his city. The second major characteristic of the early Greek world was the supernatural. The two worlds were not separate, as the gods lived in the same world as the men, and they interfered in the men’s lives as they chose to. It was the gods who sent suffering and evil to men. In the plays of Sophocles, the gods brought about the hero’s downfall because of a tragic flaw in the character of the hero.

In Greek tragedy, suffering brought knowledge of worldly matters and of the individual. Aristotle attempted to explain how an audience could observe tragic events and still have a pleasurable experience. Aristotle, by searching the works of writers of Greek tragedy, Aeschulus, Euripides and Sophocles (whose Oedipus Rex he considered the finest of all Greek tragedies), arrived at his definition of tragedy. This explanation has a profound influence for more than twenty centuries on those writing tragedies, most significantly Shakespeare. Aristotle’s analysis of tragedy began with a description of the effect such a work had on the audience as a “catharsis” or purging of the emotions. He decided that catharsis was the purging of two specific emotions, pity and fear. The hero has made a mistake due to ignorance, not because of wickedness or corruption. Aristotle used the word “hamartia”, which is the “tragic flaw” or offense committed in ignorance. For example, Oedipus is ignorant of his true parentage when he commits his fatal deed. Oedipus Rex is one of the stories in a three-part myth called the Thebian cycle. The structure of most all Greek tragedies is similar to Oedipus Rex. Such plays are divided in to five parts, the prologue or introduction, the ‘prados’ or entrance of the chorus, four episode or acts separates from one another by “stasimons” or choral odes, and “exodos”, the action after the last stasimon. These odes are lyric poetry, lines chanted or sung as the chorus moved rhythmically across the orchestra. The lines that accompanied the movement of the chorus in one direction were called “strophe”, the return movement was
accompanied by lines called “antistrophe”. The choral ode might contain more than one strophe or antistrophe.

Greek tragedy originated in honor of the god of wine, Dionysus, the patron god of tragedy. The performance took place in an open-air theater. The word tragedy is derived from the term ‘tragedia’ or ‘goat-song’, named for the goat skins the chorus wore in the performance. The plots came from legends of the Heroic Age. Tragedy grew from a choral lyric, as Aristotle said, tragedy is largely based on life’s pity and splendor.

Plays were performed at dramatic festivals, the two main ones being the Feast of the Winepress in January and the City Dionysia at the end of March. The Proceeding began with the procession of choruses
and actors of the three competing poets. A herald then announced the poet’s names and the titles of their plays. On this day it was likely that the image of Dionysus was taken in a procession from his temple
beside the theater to a point near the road he had once taken to reach Athens from the north, then it was brought back by torch light, amid a carnival celebration, to the theater itself, where his priest occupied the central seat of honor during the performances. On the first day of the festival there were contests between the choruses, five of men and five of boys. Each chorus consisted of fifty men or boys. On the next three days, a ‘tragic tetralogy’ (group made up of four pieces, a trilogy followed by a satyric drama) was performed each morning. This is compared to the Elizabethan habit of following a tragedy with a jig. During the Peloponnesian Wars, this was followed by a comedy each afternoon.

The Father of the drama was Thesis of Athens, 535 BC, who created the first actor. The actor performed in intervals between the dancing of the chorus and conversing at times with the leader of the
chorus. The tragedy was further developed when new myths became part of the performance, changing the nature of the chorus to a group appropriate to the individual story. A second actor was added by
Aeschylus and a third actor was added by Sophocles, and the number of the chorus was fixed at fifteen. The chorus’ part was gradually reduced, and the dialogue of the actors became increasingly important. The word ‘chorus’ meant ‘dance or ‘dancing ground’, which was how dance evolved into the drama. Members of the chorus were characters in the play who commented on the action. They drew the audience into the play and reflected the audience’s reactions.

The Greek plays were performed in open-air theaters. Nocturnal
scenes were performed even in sunlight. The area in front of the
stages was called the ‘orchestra’, the area in which the chorus moved
and danced. There was no curtain and the play was presented as a whole
with no act or scene divisions. There was a building at the back of
the stage called a skene, which represented the front of a palace or
temple. It contained a central doorway and two other stage entrances,
one at the left and the other at the right, representing the country
and the city.
Sacrifices were performed at the altar of Dionysus, and the
chorus performed in the orchestra, which surrounded the altar. The
theatron, from where the word ‘theater’ is derived, is where the
audience sat, built on a hollowed-out hillside. Seated of honor, found
in the front and center of the theatron, were for public officials and
priests. he seating capacity of the theater was about 17,000. The
audience of about 14,000 was lively, noisy, emotional and
unrestrained. They ate, applauded, cheered, hissed, and kicked their
wooden seats in disgust. Small riots were known to break out if the
audience was dissatisfied. Women were allowed to be spectators of
tragedy, and probably even comedy. Admission was free or nominal, and
the poor were paid for by the state. The Attic dramatists, like the
Elizabethans, had a public of all classes. Because of the size of the
audience, the actors must also have been physically remote. The sense
of remoteness may have been heightened by masked, statuesque figures
of the actors whose acting depended largely on voice gestures and
grouping. Since there were only three actors, the same men in the same
play had to play double parts. At first, the dramatists themselves
acted, like Shakespeare. Gradually, acting became professionalized.

Simple scenery began with Sophocles, but changes of scene were
rare and stage properties were also rare, such as an occasional altar,
a tomb or an image of gods. Machinery was used for lightning or
thunder or for lifting celestial persons from heaven and back, or for
revealing the interior of the stage building. This was called ‘deus ex
machina’, which means god from the machine, and was a technical device
that used a metal crane on top of the skene building, which contained
the dressing rooms, from which a dummy was suspended to represent a
god. This device was first employed by Euripides to give a miraculous
conclusion to a tragedy. In later romantic literature, this device was
no longer used and the miracles supplied by it were replace by the
sudden appearance of a rich uncle, the discovery or new wills, or of
infants changed at birth.

Many proprieties of the Greek plays were attached to violence.
Therefore, it was a rule that acts of violence must take place off
stage. This carried through to the Elizabethan theater which avoided
the horrors of men being flayed alive or Glouster’s eyes being put out
in full view of an audience (King Lear). When Medea went inside the
house to murder her children, the chorus was left outside, chanting in
anguish, to represent the feelings the chorus had and could not act
upon, because of their metaphysical existence.

The use of music in the theater began very simply consisting
of a single flute player that accompanied the chorus. Toward the close
of the century, more complicated solo singing was developed by
Euripides. There could-then be large-scale spectacular events, with
stage crowds and chariots, particularly in plays by Aeschylus.

Greek comedy was derived from two different sources, the more
known being the choral element which included ceremonies to stimulate
fertility at the festival of Dionysus or in ribald drunken revel
in his honor. The term comedy is actually drawn from ‘komos’, meaning
song of revelry. The second source of Greek comedy was that from the
Sicilian ‘mimes’, who put on very rude performances where they would
make satirical allusions to audience members as they ad-libbed their
performances.
In the beginning, comedy was frank, indecent and sexual. The
plots were loosely and carelessly structured and included broad farce
and buffoonery. The performers were coarse and obscene while using
satire to depict important contemporary moral, social and political
issues of Athenian life. The comedy included broad satire of well
known persons of that time.
Throughout the comedic period in Greece, there were three
distinctive eras of comedies as the genre progressed. Old comedy,
which lasted from approximately 450 to 400 BCE, was performed at the
festivals of Dionysus following the tragedies. There would be contests
between three poets, each exhibiting one comedy. Each comedy troupe
would consist of one or two actors and a chorus of twenty-four.
The actors wore masks and ‘soccus’, or sandals, and the chorus often
wore fantastic costumes. Comedies were constructed in five parts, the
prologue, where the leading character conceived the ‘happy idea’, the
parodos or entrance of the chorus, the agon, a dramatized debate
between the proponent and opponent of the ‘happy idea’ where the
opposition was always defeated, the parabasis, the coming forth of the
chorus where they directly addressed the audience and aired the poet’s
views on most any matter the poet felt like having expressed, and the
episodes, where the ‘happy idea’ was put into practical application.
Aristotle highly criticized comedy, saying that it was just a
ridiculous imitation of lower types of man with eminent faults
emphasized for the audience’s pleasure, such as a mask worn to show
deformity, or for the man to do something like slip and fall on a
banana peel.

Aristophanes, a comic poet of the old comedy period, wrote
comedies which came to represent old comedy, as his style was widely
copied by other poets. In his most famous works, he used dramatic
satire on some of the most famous philosophers and poets of the era.
In ‘The Frogs’ he ridiculed Euripides, and in ‘The Clouds’ he mocked
Socrates. His works followed all the basic principles of old comedy,
but he added a facet of cleverness and depth in feeling to his lyrics,
in an attempt to appeal to both the emotions and intellect of the
audience.
Middle comedy, which dominated from 400 to 336 BCE, was very
transitional, having aspects of both old comedy and new comedy. It was
more timid than old comedy, having many less sexual gestures and
innuendoes. It was concerned less with people and politics, and more
with myths and tragedies. The chorus began its fade into the
background, becoming more of an interlude than the important component
it used to be. Aristophanes wrote a few works in middle comedy, but
the most famous writers of the time were Antiphanes of Athens and
Alexis of Thurii, whose compositions have mostly been lost and only
very few of their found works have been full extant plays.
In new comedy which lasted from 336 to 250 BCE, satire is
almost entirely replaced by social comedy involving the family and
individual character development, and the themes of romantic love. A
closely knit plot in new comedy was based on intrigue, identities,
relationships or a combination of these. A subplot was often utilized
as well. The characters in new comedy are very similar in each work,
possibly including a father who is very miser like, a son who is
mistreated but deserving, and other people with stereotypical
personas. The chief writer of new comedy was Menander, and as with the
prominent writers of the middle comedic era, most of his works have
been lost, but other dramatists of the time period, like Terence and
Platus, had imitated and adapted his methods. Menander’s The
Curmudgeon is the only complete extant play known by him to date, and
it served as the basis for the later Latin writers to adapt.

Adventure, brilliance, invention, romance and scenic effect,
together with delightful lyrics and wisdom, were the gifts of the
Greek theater. These conventions strongly affected subsequent plays
and playwrights, having put forth influence on theater throughout the
centuries.


Bibliography

1. Lucas, F.L., Greek Tragedy and Comedy, New York: The Viking Press,
1967.
2. McAvoy, William, Dramatic Tragedy, New York: McGraw-Hill Book
Company, 1971.
3. Murray, Gilbert, Euripides and His Age, New York: Oxford University
Press, 1955.
4. Reinhold, Meyer, Ph.D., Essentials of Greek and Roman Classics, New
York: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 1960.
5. Trawick, Buckner B., World Literature, Volume I: Greek, Roman, Oriental and Medieval
William McAvoy, Dramatic Tragedy, 1971, p. ix Ibid., p. x
William McAvoy, Dramatic Tragedy, 1971, p. xi Ibid., p. vii
Meyer Reinhold, Ph.D., Essentials of Greek and Roman Classics, 1960,p.60
F.L. Lucas, Greek Tragedy and Comedy, 1968, p. 3
Ibid., p. 9
Ibid., p. 10
Ibid., p. 10
Gilbert Murray, Euripides and His Age, 1955, p. 145
F.L. Lucas, Greek Tragedy and Comedy, 1968, p. 12
Ibid., p.62
Gilbert Murray, Euripides and His Age, 1955, p.146
Gilbert Murray, Euripides and His Age, 1955, p. 153
F.L. Lucas, Greek Tragedy and Comedy, 1968, p. 12
Buckner B. Trawick, World Literature, Volume I: Greek, Roman,Oriental and Medieval Classics, 1958, p. 76
Meyer Reinhold, Ph.D., Essentials of Greek and Roman Classics, 1960,p. 114
Ibid., p. 238
Ibid., p. 253
Buckner B. Trawick, World Literature, Volume I: Greek, Roman, Orientaland Medieval Classics, 1958, p. 76
Meyer Reinhold, Ph.D., Essentials of Greek and Roman Classics, 1960, p. 254

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

Allegory Of American Pie By Don Mc Lean

Ask anyone what was the defining moment in the rock history of the 1960s was and all you will get is a one word answer: Woodstock. The three day rock festival that defined an era was only one of many music festivals of the '60s. But Woodstock has come to symbolize, "an era of peaceful, free- loving, drug- taking hippie youth, carefree before harsher realities hit..." (Layman 40). The Woodstock festival ended a century filled with many metamorphoses of rock'n'roll, from the era of pop music to the rebirth of folk music to the invention of acid rock. But some cynics say that rock'n'roll died with the death of Buddy Holly before the 60s even began. One such person is Don McLean. The poet behind the haunting epic song about the death of 'danceable' music, McLean wrote the ever popular song, "American Pie" (appendix 1). The most important song in rock'n'roll history, "American Pie", is the song about the demise of rock'n'roll after Buddy Holly's death and the heathenism of rock that resulted. Although McLean himself won't reveal any symbolism in his songs, "American Pie" is one of the most analyzed pieces of literature in modern society. Although not all of its secrets have been revealed, many "scholars" of the sixties will agree that the mystery of this song is one of the reasons it has become so successful- everyone wants to know the meanings of its allegories. Proof of "American Pie's" truth lies in the allegory of the song. Many People enjoy the song but have no idea what it means- Who is the Jester? What is the levee? When the deeper story is found, the importance of the song is unearthed. "American Pie" is not only a song, it is an epic poem about the course of rock'n'roll...

Carl Orffs Philosophies In Music Education

While Carl Orff is a very seminal composer of the 20th century, his greatest success and influence has been in the field of Music Education. Born on July 10th in Munich, Germany in 1895, Orff refused to speak about his past almost as if he were ashamed of it. What we do know, however, is that Orff came from a Bavarian family who was very active in the German military. His father's regiment band would often play through some of the young Orff's first attempts at composing. Although Orff was adamant about the secrecy of his past, Moser's Musik Lexicon says that he studied in the Munich Academy of Music until 1914. Orff then served in the military in the first world war. After the war, he held various positions in the Mannheim and Darmstadt opera houses then returned home to Munich to further study music. In 1925, and for the rest of his life, Orff was the head of a department and co-founder of the Guenther School for gymnastics, music, and dance in Munich where he worked with musical beginners. This is where he developed his Music Education theories. In 1937, Orff's Carmina Burana premiered in Frankfurt, Germany. Needless to say, it was a great success. With the success of Carmina Burana, Orff orphaned all of his previous works except for Catulli Carmina and the En trata which were rewritten to be acceptable by Orff. One of Orff's most admired composers was Monteverdi. In fact, much of Orff's work was based on ancient material. Orff said: I am often asked why I nearly always select old material, fairy tales and legends for my stage works. I do not look upon them as old, but rather as valid material. The time element disappears, and only the spiritual power remains. My...

Johann Sebastian Bach Biography

Throughout the history of music, many great composers, theorists, and instrumentalists have left indelible marks and influences that people today look back on to admire and aspire to. No exception to this idiom is Johann Sebastian Bach, whose impact on music was unforgettable to say the least. People today look back to his writings and works to both learn and admire. He truly can be considered a music history great. Bach, who came from a family of over 53 musicians, was nothing short of a virtuosic instrumentalist as well as a masterful composer. Born in Eisenach, Germany, on March 21, 1685, he was the son of a masterful violinist, Johann Ambrosius Bach, who taught his son the basic skills for string playing. Along with this string playing, Bach began to play the organ which is the instrument he would later on be noted for in history. His instruction on the organ came from the player at Eisenach's most important church. He instructed the young boy rather rigorously until his skills surpassed anyone?s expectations for someone of such a young age. Bach suffered early trauma when his parents died in 1695. He went to go live with his older brother, Johann Christoph, who also was a professional organist at Ohrdruf. He continued his younger brother's education on that instrument, as well as introducing him to the harpsichord. The rigorous training on these instruments combined with Bach?s masterful skill paid off for him at an early age. After several years of studying with his older brother, he received a scholarship to study in Luneberg, Germany, which is located on the northern tip of the country. As a result, he left his brother?s tutelage and went to go and study there. The teenage years brought Bach to several parts of Germany where he...

Michelangelo

Michelangelo was pessimistic in his poetry and an optimist in his artwork. Michelangelo?s artwork consisted of paintings and sculptures that showed humanity in it?s natural state. Michelangelo?s poetry was pessimistic in his response to Strazzi even though he was complementing him. Michelangelo?s sculpture brought out his optimism. Michelangelo was optimistic in completing The Tomb of Pope Julius II and persevered through it?s many revisions trying to complete his vision. Sculpture was Michelangelo?s main goal and the love of his life. Since his art portrayed both optimism and pessimism, Michelangelo was in touch with his positive and negative sides, showing that he had a great and stable personality. Michelangelo?s artwork consisted of paintings and sculptures that showed humanity in it?s natural state. Michelangelo Buonarroti was called to Rome in 1505 by Pope Julius II to create for him a monumental tomb. We have no clear sense of what the tomb was to look like, since over the years it went through at least five conceptual revisions. The tomb was to have three levels; the bottom level was to have sculpted figures representing Victory and bond slaves. The second level was to have statues of Moses and Saint Paul as well as symbolic figures of the active and contemplative life- representative of the human striving for, and reception of, knowledge. The third level, it is assumed, was to have an effigy of the deceased pope. The tomb of Pope Julius II was never finished. What was finished of the tomb represents a twenty-year span of frustrating delays and revised schemes. Michelangelo had hardly begun work on the pope?s tomb when Julius commanded him to fresco the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to complete the work done in the previous century under Sixtus IV. The overall organization consists of four large triangles at...

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin Ireland on October 16, 1854. He is one of the most talented and most controversial writers of his time. He was well known for his wit, flamboyance, and creative genius and with his little dramatic training showing his natural talent for stage and theatre. He is termed a martyr by some and may be the first true self-publicist and was known for his style of dress and odd behavior. Wilde, 1882 His Father, William Wilde, was a highly accredited doctor and his mother, Jane Francesca Elgee, was a writer of revolutionary poems. Oscar had a brother William Charles Kingsbury along with his father's three illegitimate children, Henry, Emily, and Mary. His sister, Isola Emily Francesca died in 1867 at only ten years of age from a sudden fever, greatly affecting Oscar and his family. He kept a lock of her hair in an envelope and later wrote the poem 'Requiescat' in her memory. Oscar and his brother William both attended the Protora Royal School at Enniskillen. He had little in common with the other children. He disliked games and took more interest in flowers and sunsets. He was extremely passionate about anything that had to do with ancient Greece and with Classics. Wilde during school years In 1871, he was awarded a Royal School Scholarship to Trinity College in Dublin and received many awards and earned the highest honor the college offered to an undergraduate, the Foundation Scholarship. In 1874, he also won the College's Berkley Gold Medal for Greek and was awarded a Demyship to Magdalen College, Oxford. After graduating from Oxford, Oscar moved to London with his friend Frank Miles, a well-known portrait painter of the time. In 1878 his poem Ravenna was published, for which he won the...

Scholarship Essay About Goals

Ever since I was a young kid I have always been interested with aircraft. I was so curious of how airplane's fly. I remember taking my toys apart to see how it works. As a kid I wanted to go to the airport to watch the airplanes land and fly and pondered how this happens. Other kids wanted to go to the amusement places. As I grew older I became more and more interested in aircraft and the technology behind it. I always involved myself with aviation early on. I read books and magazines on aviation, took museum tours, built model airplanes. When I was younger my father would take me to aircraft repair facilities where I would watch in great fascination. In my teens, went up to the military bases and befriended many soldiers involved with aircraft and asked them numerous questions. I got to meet many aeronautics engineers and borrowed their old textbooks and read them till the wee hours of the morning. As technology improved with information superhighway, I logged on the web. Stayed up for hours and hours searching through web pages and web pages of information about aircraft and technology. I started my elementary school in the Philippines, then we moved to U.S. and continued my high school education and graduated. Enrolled at the CCSF to pursue my college education and now I am in the 2nd year in CCSF taking aeronautics. My goal now is to obtain my AS degree from the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) so I can transfer to a University and get a Bachelors degree and to continue for my Masters degree in Aeronautics Engineering. I will strive hard to reach the peak level of my career which is a Professor and hopefully to be an aeronautic professor so...

Circus Circus Enterprises Case Studies

Executive Summary: Circus Circus Enterprises is a leader and will continue to be in the gaming industry. In recent years, they have seen a decline in profit and revenue; management tends to blame the decrease on continuing disruptions from remodeling, expansion, and increased competition. Consequently, Circus has reported decreases in its net income for 1997 and 1998 and management believes this trend will continue as competition heightens. Currently the company is involved in several joint ventures, its brand of casino entertainment has traditionally catered to the low rollers and family vacationers through its theme park. Circus should continue to expand its existing operations into new market segments. This shift will allow them to attract the up scale gambler. Overview Circus Circus Enterprises, Inc founded in 1974 is in the business of entertainment, with its core strength in casino gambling. The company?s asset base, operating cash flow, profit margin, multiple markets and customers, rank it as one of the gaming industry leaders. Partners William G. Bennett an aggressive cost cutter and William N. Pennington purchased Circus Circus in 1974 as a small and unprofitable casino. It went public in 1983, from 1993 to 1997; the average return on capital invested was 16.5%. Circus Circus operates several properties in Las Vegas, Reno, Laughlin, and one in Mississippi, as well as 50% ownership in three other casinos and a theme park. On January 31,1998 Circus reported net income of 89.9 million and revenues of 1.35 billion, this is a down from 100 million on 1.3 billion in 1997. Management sees this decline in revenue due to the rapid and extensive expansion and the increased competition that Circus is facing. Well established in the casino gaming industry the corporation has its focus in the entertainment business and has particularly a popular theme resort concept....

Effect Of Civil War On American Economy

The Economies of the North and South, 1861-1865 In 1861, a great war in American history began. It was a civil war between the north and south that was by no means civil. This war would have great repercussions upon the economy of this country and the states within it. The American Civil War began with secession, creating a divided union of sorts, and sparked an incredibly cataclysmic four years. Although the actual war began with secession, this was not the only driving force. The economy of the Southern states, the Confederacy, greatly if not entirely depended on the institution of slavery. The Confederacy was heavily reliant on agriculture, and they used the profits made from the sale of such raw materials to purchase finished goods to use and enjoy. Their major export was cotton, which thrived on the warm river deltas and could easily be shipped to major ocean ports from towns on the Mississippi and numerous river cities. Slavery was a key part of this, as slaves were the ones who harvested and planted the cotton. Being such an enormous unpaid work force, the profits made were extraordinarily high and the price for the unfinished goods drastically low in comparison; especially since he invention of the cotton gin in 1793 which made the work all that much easier and quicker. In contrast, the economical structure of the Northern states, the Union, was vastly dependent on industry. Slavery did not exist in most of the Union, as there was no demand for it due to the type of industrial development taking place. As the Union had a paid work force, the profits made were lower and the cost of the finished manufactured item higher. In turn, the Union used the profits and purchased raw materials to use. This cycle...

Evaluation Of The Effectiveness Of Trade Embargoes

Although I am a strong critic of the use and effectiveness of economic sanctions, such as trade embargoes, for the sake of this assignment, I will present both their theoretical advantages and their disadvantages based upon my research. Trade embargoes and blockades have traditionally been used to entice nations to alter their behavior or to punish them for certain behavior. The intentions behind these policies are generally noble, at least on the surface. However, these policies can have side effects. For example, FDR's blockade of raw materials against the Japanese in Manchuria in the 1930s arguably led to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which resulted in U.S. involvement in World War II. The decades-long embargo against Cuba not only did not lead to the topple of the communist regime there, but may have strengthened Castro's hold on the island and has created animosity toward the United States in Latin America and much suffering by the people of Cuba. Various studies have concluded that embargoes and other economic sanctions generally have not been effective from a utilitarian or policy perspective, yet these policies continue. Evaluation of the effectiveness of Trade Embargoes Strengths Trade embargoes and other sanctions can give the sender government the appearance of taking strong measures in response to a given situation without resorting to violence. Sanctions can be imposed in conjunction with other measures to achieve conflict prevention and mitigation goals. Sanctions may be ineffective: goals may be too elusive, the means too gentle, or cooperation from other countries insufficient. It is usually difficult to determine whether embargoes were an effective deterrent against future misdeeds: embargoes may contribute to a successful outcome, but can rarely achieve ambitious objectives alone. Some regimes are highly resistant to external pressures to reform. At the same time, trade sanctions may narrow the...

Nike Sweat Shops

There has been much debate and controversy recently concerning Nike's Asian labour practices. This is a very complex issue and one that is a long way from being solved. It is very difficult to determine which side of this argument to defend, as both sides acknowledge the facts, yet put a completely different spin on them. Do you believe Nike's critics who say they're exploiting workers? Or, do you believe Nike when they say that they are giving workers in these countries wonderful opportunities to raise their standard of living? The consensus answer to this question by all sides seems to be that Nike is improving but still has a ways to go. Nike's Asian ties can be traced back to the birth of the company. The CEO, chairman of the board of directors, and co-founder, Phil Knight, wrote his masters thesis at Stanford University in the 1960's on the prospects for using Asian labor to produce goods cheaper and more effectively. In order to incorporate this plan in to Nike's business structure, a partnership was set up with a Japan based company called Tiger Sports. Tiger Sports would manufacture shoes for Nike in Asia then shipped them to the United States to sell. In the 1980's however, this aspect of Nike's partnership with Tiger Sports was dissolved, and Nike was forced to expand production from the United States to countries such as Taiwan and Korea where their products could be manufactured at the same relatively low cost that Nike enjoyed through the Tiger Sports partnership. Over the last five of years, however, the production numbers for these countries have been decreasing at an alarming rate due to the fact that their economies expanded at a very rapid pace. This, in turn, caused the cost of labour to increase dramatically,...