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Classics & Ancient History   >   Greek Theatre

Pots and Plays

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Greek Theatre

In this course, Professor Richard Seaford (University of Exeter) explores several aspects of Greek tragedy and comedy. In the first module, we think about the contribution made by vase painting to our understanding of Greek theatre. After that, we think about the significance of the chorus in Greek tragedy and comedy In the third module, we consider what Greek theatre can tell us about contemporary history and society, before turning in the fourth module to think about the extent to which Greek theatre was a ‘democratic’ institution. In the fifth module, we consider the importance of ritual for the understanding of Greek theatre, before moving on in the sixth module to consider the ‘purpose’ of Greek theatre. Is it supposed to teach us something? If so, what? In the seventh module, we think about the importance of music and spectacle to Greek theatre. And in the eighth and final module, we consider whether Greek theatre is better understood as a traditional genre or an innovative one.

Pots and Plays

In this module, we think about the contribution made by vase painting to our understanding of Greek theatre, focusing in particular on: (i) the extent to which we can determine whether a vase represents a scene from particular tragedy as opposed to a generic depiction of the same myth; (ii) the potential influence of Aeschylus’ Myrmidons on an Attic red-figure hydria depicting the embassy to Achilles (Munich inv. 8770); (iii) the popularity of vases explicitly representing actors (as opposed to characters from tragedy) in South Italy; (iv) the importance of vase painting in understanding contemporary ritual, which is important for understanding how tragedy has inverted/perverted that ritual; and (v) three possible reasons why so many of these vases – and especially those depicting scenes from tragedy – are found in graves.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Seaford, R. (2020, March 13). Greek Theatre - Pots and Plays [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Seaford, R. "Greek Theatre – Pots and Plays." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Mar 2020,


Prof. Richard Seaford

Prof. Richard Seaford

Exeter University