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Prospectus

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Seminar Greek: Greek Tragedy and War

Course
2012-2013

Admission requirements

This course is open to MA and research MA students in Classics and Ancient Civilizations (specialization Classics).

Description

The object of this course is to familiarize students with the way tragedy engages the topic of war. The course will primarily focus attention on three Greek tragedies: Aeschylus’ Persians, Sophocles’ Ajax, and Euripides’ Trojan Women. Texts will be read, partly in Greek and partly in English. In addition, each student will read two of the aforementioned tragedies in Greek. We will discuss such themes as the interplay between history and patriotic fiction, the representation of the enemy and the decimated city, the role of the gods, the rituals of the war dead and the theatrical significance of military arms and armour. The historiography of war in Herodotus and Thucydides will also be brought to bear on the way tragedy fleshes out these themes.

This course focuses on three Greek tragedies: Aeschylus’ Persians, Sophocles’ Ajax, and Euripides’ Trojan Women).

  1. Introduction
    Preparation: read all three plays in translation

  2. Aeschylus’ Persians: history or patriotic fiction?
    Preparation: study Persians in translation; 800-851 in Greek

3.Persians and Herodotus: Narratives of Combat.
Preparation: Herodotus 8.40-96 in translation and Persians 385-434 in Greek

  1. Sophocles’ Ajax: Friendly Fire
    Preparation: Ajax in translation, with 74-133 in Greek

  2. Ajax: Cursing Sparta
    Preparation: Ajax in translation, with 815-65 in Greek. Thucydides 1.66-88 in English.

  3. Trojan Women: the Blame Game
    Preparation: Trojan Women in translation; 353-405 in Greek.

  4. Trojan Women: The Decimated City
    Preparation: Trojan Women in translation; 1260-1332 in Greek. Thucydides 3.52-68 and 5.84-116 in translation.

  5. Gods and War:
    Preparation: Persians 598-660; Ajax 748-83 in Greek; Trojan Women 1-97.

  6. Rites for the War Dead:
    Preparation: Persians 907-end; Ajax 1318-end; Trojan Women 1156-1206 in Greek.

  7. Theatrical significance of military arms and armour:
    Preparation: Persians 1-158; Ajax 525-82 in Greek; Trojan Women 800-59.

  8. Talking about war.
    Preparation: Ajax 1047-1315; Trojan Women 895-1059 with 915-65 in Greek. In translation: Gorgias’ Helen (to be supplied).

  9. Comparative discussion of women and war in all three plays with Persians 101-58 in Greek and Thucydides 2.33-46 in translation.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of primary texts relating to the theme of the class (Athenian tragedy and war). 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-outs, 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.

Timetable

See timetables Classics and Ancient Civilizations.

Mode of instruction

Seminar (a combination of lectures, seminars and individual study of Greek texts)

Assessment method

When taken for 10 EC:
Preparation and active participation in class (10%);
Oral presentation (20%);
Prepared response to another student’s presentation (5%);
Written or oral exam on two tragedies in the original Greek (35%);
Paper (30%).

When taken for 5 EC (no final paper is required):
Preparation and active participation in class (20%);
Oral presentation (35%);
Prepared response to another student’s presentation (5%);
Written or oral exam on two tragedies in the original Greek (40%).

Blackboard

To be announced in class.

Reading list

Make sure you have the three editions we shall be using, which are those with English translation and extensive introductory material and bibliographies in the Aris & Phillips series: Edith Hall (ed.) Aeschylus’ Persians (1996), Alex Garvie (ed.) Sophocles’ Ajax (1998) and Shirley Barlow (ed.) Euripides’ Trojan Women (1986). It will also be useful for you to have translations of Herodotus and Thucydides available.

There are dedicated bibliographies on each of these plays as well as on the topic of war in Edith Hall, Greek Tragedy: Suffering under the Sun (OUP 2010).

Students are also warmly encouraged to look for other relevant discussions.

Registration

Via uSis

Contact information

Please contact the Co-ordinator of Studies if you have any questions in semester 1 about this course.

Remarks

Preparation for first class: please make sure you have read all three tragedies (Aeschylus’ Persians, Sophocles’ Ajax, and Euripides’ Trojan Women) in translation.