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Seminar MA/ ResMA Greek Seven Great Tragedies


Admission requirements

This course is open to students who have successfully completed a BA in Classics, or who can otherwise demonstrate their advanced competence in ancient Greek. This class can be taken in fulfilment of the requirements of both the literary and the linguistic part of the MA program or of the Research MA Classics.


In this class, we will familiarize ourselves with all seven tragedies left by the great tragedian Sophocles. Texts are studied partly in the original Greek, partly in translation. In addition, each student will read two tragedies in Greek. We will look at Sophocles’ heroes, such as Ajax, Antigone, Electra or Oedipus, his favorite themes, his poetry and style, his incorporation of contemporary preoccupations, such as rhetoric. We will also study the different literary-critical approaches that have been used in interpretations of Sophocles’ oeuvre. Each and every tragedy left by Sophocles has had a great impact: this is a unique opportunity to come to grips with one of the greatest poets and playwrights in European literature.

Course objectives

Knowledge of primary texts relating to the theme of the class (Sophocles). Competence to read these texts and understand them within their cultural context.
Knowledge of cultural-critical and literary-critical apparatus enabling the student to analyze the material studied in this class.
Critical assessment of secondary literature.
Advanced research skills: independent formulation of complex research question, collecting materials (both primary texts and results of earlier research). Analyzing results, constructing arguments, formulating conclusions.
Oral presentation: presenting clearly and on the basis of arguments the results of the student’s research. Effective use of hand-out, illustrations or multi-media techniques.
Written presentation: setting out of research results effectively, clearly and in a well-structured manner.
Active participation and preparation: the student demonstrates involvement in the topic by asking well-informed and constructive questions and making contributions to the collective progress.


Mode of instruction

Seminar, lectures and some independent study.

Assessment method

When taken for 10 ects: Active participation and preparation (10%), Oral presentation (20%), Written or preferably oral exam on two Sophoclean tragedies studied independently (35%); paper (35%). Notice that MPhil students are required to present original research in this seminar (i.e. a survey of a problem based on the secondary literature is not sufficient): please consult your instructor at an early stage!
When this class is taken for 5 ects, no final paper is required (grade will consist of participation/preparation (20%), oral presentation (40%), written or preferably oral exam on two tragedies (40%)).


No use of Blackboard.

Reading list

Make sure you have an OCT of Sophocles as well as a complete translation of the plays.
Initial bibliography made available; it is expected that the students will actively search out more material relevant to the topics they have selected. Some literature is made permanently available in the Classics reading room (these books will not be lent out).


Register in Usis.

Contact information

Prof.dr. Ineke Sluiter,, 071-527 3311


  • NB: Attendance is compulsory for this class. Only one session may be missed.

  • Students are encouraged to read through the complete translation of Sophocles as soon as possible. Preparation for each class consists of having read complete translation of the play under discussion that session and the passages of Greek and articles indicated on the syllabus. Always bring a complete Greek Sophocles text to class!

  • A full syllabus with details on class requirements will be distributed during the first session.

  • Students who participate in this course can also participate in the MA-course on Aristotle’s Poetics, which will be offered in the same semester by dr. C.C. de Jonge. In this way, the ancient theory and practice of Greek tragedy can be studied in combination. This combination of two courses is fruitful, but not compulsory.