A trilogy, also a three-part, is a work that is composed of three parts. A trilogy can be a literary, cinematic or even musical work, although the term is also used in other areas. It is essential for the trilogy that its individual parts mostly function independently, which means that these have a common framework, but appear to be self-contained (see Mehrteiler). Consequently, trilogies are rarely interrupted by strong cliffhangers, which would interrupt the act shown.
The term goes back to the Greek noun trilogía (τριλογία), which consists of the words treis for three and lógos for word. Accordingly, the trilogy in the literal sense is a three-word and only in the transposed sense is a three-part artistic work.
Originally the term was applied to dramas. Trilogia was a succession of three tragedies which were shown by the poets of the Great Dionysia in the tragic Agon – a dense competition in antiquity. In part, the trilogy was extended by a relaxing satyr play and thus extended to the tetralogy – multiparting of four pieces – the name of different multipart
History of the trilogy
In the literature such trilogies have been documented since ancient Greece, as already mentioned. At first, these were mostly three tragedies, which came from the same circle of myths (see myth). At times, these triple parts were extended by a relaxing post-play (satyr play) or a rather serious piece and thus developed into tetralogy (four-part).
Such a tetralogy has been the case since the fifth century BC, The decisive tragic agon (competition) of the Great Dionysia. These Dionysia were the festival in honor of the god Dionysos in Greek antiquity. Several poets competed against each other and presented their works to the audience, with the contest of the tragedy poets being the highlight. The multi-part tragedies were performed in one day and built on each other, which is why the material context was very narrow, as in the Orestee (458 BC) by the poet Aischylos.
Later on, for instance, in the works of Euripides or Sophocles, the individual parts of such cycles were still connected with each other in terms of content, but they offered an enormous concentration of the action within the individual works, which is why the individual pieces were quite independent. However, this condensation of the action was nearly the framework of the Dionysia because of the enormous content, since the three partly self-contained works, which were shown in one day, could barely preserve the former uniform overall impression of the competition.
The division of dramatic substances was also common in later epochs. A well-known example from the literature is, for example, Friedrich Schiller’s Wallenstein, which was created as a trilogy in order to loosen up the extensive material. The individual works of the multiplier are, however, self-employed. It is essential, therefore, for such dramatic multipartes that they are mostly used to loosen the length of the material in order not to lose the attention of the audience during the performance.
In the 21st century, however, such multipartisans are also common in epic literature, and they determine large parts of fiction. Recent examples are the dystopian romance novel The Tribute of Panem by Suzanne Collins or the fantasy novels of the inkworld trilogy of the author Cornelia Funke, which includes volumes inkherz, ink blood as well as ink death. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s trilogy of passion or Josef Weinheber’s heroic trilogy are regarded as lyrical parts.
The Lord of the Rings by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (Literature / Film)
The Fellowship (1954/2001)
The Two Towers (1954/2002)
The Return of the King (1955/2003)
Orestie of the poet Aeschylus (tragedy)
Agamemnon (UA: 458 BC)
The godfather of Francis Ford Coppola (film)
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather – Part II (1974)
The Godfather Part III (1990)
Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson (Literature)
Blindness (2005) – Full cast and crew
Verdammnis (2006) – Full cast and crew
Danziger Trilogy by Günter Grass (Literature)
The Blechtrommel (1959)
Cat and Mouse (1961)
Dog Years (1963)
Three-color trilogy by Krzysztof Kieślowski (film series)
Three Colors: Blue (1993)
Three Colors: White (1993)
Three Colors: Red (1994)
Dollar Trilogy of Sergio Leone (Italo Star Series)
For a Handful of Dollars (1964)
For a few dollars more (1965)
Two glorious scoundrels (Prequel, 1966)
Matrix by Lana and Andy Wachowski (film)
Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Matrix Revolutions (2003)
Back to the future of Robert Zemeckis (film)
Back to the Future (1985)
Back to the Future II (1989)
Back to the Future III (1990)
Selbs Trilogy by Bernhard Schlink (Kriminalromane)
Wallenstein by Friedrich Schiller (drama trilogy)
Wallenstein’s Camp (1798)
The Piccolomini (1799)
Wallenstein’s Death (1799)
Inkworld Trilogy by Cornelia Funke (Fantasy Books)
Inkherz (2003) – Full cast and crew
Ink blood (2005)
Tintentod (2007) – Full cast and crew
Short overview: The most important overview
A trilogy, also a three-part, is a work that is composed of three parts. A trilogy can be a literary, cinematic or even musical work, although the term is also used in other areas.
Originally the term was coined in connection with the Great Dionysia – a festival and poetry contest to honor the god Dionysus. Several poets came to present a “tragic three-piece”, which was mostly supplemented by a satyr play. Today, the term is used for every three-part art.
Almost all multi-part works of art can be identified with a technical term. The term for a second-hand dilogy, for a four-part tetralogy, for a five-part pentalogy as well as for a six-part hexalogy, etc. (see also: multipart). However, only trilogy and tetralogy are usually used.
Note: Sometimes writers are uncertain whether it is called trilogy or triology. Since the term is derived from the Greek – not from the Italian – it is formed by means of the prefix “Tri-“, and the spelling trilogy is correct (see Common spelling errors).