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You are here: Home Courses Middlebury-CMRS Course List CLAS 0040 Greek Tragedy

CLAS 0040 Greek Tragedy

Greek tragedy is the genre which exemplified the artistic achievement of Athenian democracy in in the fifth century BCE, from the victory over the Persians at Marathon to the Peloponnesian War. The plays were performed to the citizens of this radical democracy and engaged with themes which were at the heart of the state. However, they went beyond politics to address fundamental questions about ethics, religion, and the gods. In the Frogs Aristophanes makes fun of Aeschylus and Euripides, but he makes a serious point, too: it is through watching plays and thinking about them that men become better citizens.


Aeschylus, The Oresteia

Sophocles, Oedipus the King, Antigone

Euripides, Medea, Electra

Aristophanes, Frogs

 Sample topics:

  1. The theme of justice in the Oresteia
  2. Mortals and gods in the plays of Euripides
  3. The role of the chorus in Greek  tragedy
  4. The theme of leadership in Greek tragedy
  5. Women in the family and state
  6. The individual, family and the state
  7. The mythical past and fifth-century Athens
  8. The audience’s expectations of tragedy in the Frogs

There is no language requirement for this tutorial: all texts are taught in English translation.  However, if you do have the relevant language skills then it can be taught through the original texts: contact the Senior Tutor to discuss this.

Over 25 years on
I attended CMRS over 25 years ago; now I live outside Washington, DC, where I practice law before the federal appeals courts and the U.S. Supreme Cour...
Greg Castanias, Autumn Semester 1985, Wabash College