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Greek Theatre

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Dr Rosie Wyles (University of Kent) provides an introduction to Greek theatre – specifically, the tragic and comic drama of fifth-century BC Athens. In the first lecture, we think about some of the religious and civic contexts for Greek theatre, including the importance of the annual dramatic festivals of fifth-century Athens: the Lenaia (January) and Great Dionysia (March/April). After that, in the second lecture, we think about the different genres of dramatic performance in fifth-century Athens – tragedy, comedy and satyr drama – before turning in the third and fourth lectures to consider two dialogic conventions in Greek drama: stichomythia and the agōn. In the fifth lecture, we think about how violence is presented in Greek drama, before turning in the sixth and seventh lectures to think about costume and the use of masks, respectively. In the eighth lecture, we think about the role of the chorus in Greek drama, while in the ninth lecture we explore the extent to which both tragedy and comedy engage with contemporary politics. In the tenth lecture, we think about the role of the gods, justice and fate in Greek drama, before turning in the eleventh and final lecture to think about the interaction between tragedy and comedy.

Please note: All quotations are quoted with two sets of line numbers: the first refers to numbering in the relevant English translation, the second (in brackets) refers to the line numbering in the original Greek, which is often different.

We use the following translations in this course:
– Oedipus the King – Robert Fagles in The Three Theban Plays (Penguin Classics, 1984)
– The Bacchae – David Franklin in Euripides: Bacchae (Cambridge Translations from Greek Drama) (2000)
– Aristophanes: Frogs – Judith Affleck and Clive Letchford in Aristophanes: Frogs (Cambridge Translations from Greek Drama) (2014)

About the Lecturer

Dr Rosie Wyles researches the cultural history of the ancient world through theatre performance. She did her undergraduate studies in Classics at Oxford and was awarded her PhD on the ancient performance reception of Euripides from the University of London in 2007. Her research interests include Greek and Roman performance arts, costume, reception within antiquity and beyond it, and gender.