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CLA 203 Classical Tragedy (3 credits)

This course features reading in English of several original tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Students discuss the nature and character of the gods in these plays as well as the interactions and relationships between human and divine characters. The class also evaluates the often expressed idea that the texts of Greek tragedy and comedy reflect an Athenian society in crisis. The class will explore how various forms of upheaval in politics, education, religion, and domestic life are reflected in Athenian drama, and also how the Athenian playwrights may be commenting on these issues. Another significant topic of examination is the tendency of Athenian tragedy to feature characters that rebel against or subvert traditional Athenian gender roles. We discuss in each case what these reversals reveal about the characters and what consequences arise from these reversals. In order to assist students in visualizing the dramas, the instructor will show images from ancient Greek theatres at Athens and Epidauros and scenes from the famous National Theatre of Great Britain production of Aeschylus’ Oresteria (directed by Peter Hall, with actors performing in masks) and the equally famous Kennedy Center production of Euripides’ Medea. Fulfills the Art/Literature requirement of the GER/GEP.