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Greek Literature Introduction to Greek literature detailing the three most famous playwrights and their works: Sophocles, Aeschylus and special attention to Euripides.

Classical Studies
Course Code
Sheila Ager

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Greek Literature
12:32 PM
Greeks invented tragedy, drama, and comedy
Specifically the athenians - extremely significant to culture
Produced during classical age
Theatre of Dionysus
Big theatre, community event
Every year a festival called Dionysia took place; featured the production of plays. Community
event, involved presentation of plays as offering to gods (olympic games offering to god zeus).
Offers the best of human endeavours
Presentations also a competition; who puts on the best play, the best actor, producer
Different plays every year; plays were put on once and that's it
Plays and Playwrights
The plays:
o About 1000 tragedies produced over the classical age, only 32 survive. Survived because
they were popular in the Roman period, really were outstanding works of art
o Used of traditional myth (trojan war, achilles). Use same body of myth that epic poetry did.
Ramifications: audience knows where the story is going, know the ending (reason people go
to plays is to see how the playwright deals with the story - allowed to make changes; benefit
of having audience know the ending is they can play with dramatic irony). Use these stories
to explore larger questions - justice, place in society, connections with gods
The playwrights
o Only 3 whose work survived
o Aeschylus - oldest, more conservative, more traditional. Interested in exploring humans'
relationship with the gods (Prometheus Bound; story of zeus who is new to power and still
tyrannical, shows evolution of zeus of tyrant to mature, just god).
o Sophocles - most famous play Oedipus Rex (interested in how Oedipus responds to
adversity) . Less interested in gods, more interested in human behaviour and how they
behave under adverse circumstances.
o Euripides - youngest, most accessible and relatable.
Euripides the Iconoclast
1:34 PM
Athenian (all three were athenian)
o Big part of what he had to say, communicating with own community.
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