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Level 6

6AACGT06 Greek Texts VI (Drama): Various Texts

Module convenor and assigned text change from year-to-year, please see below for annual information

Credit value: 15
Module convenor/tutor: Various, changes from year-to-year, see below
Teaching pattern: 10 x 2-hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list
Assessment: 1 x 2-hour examination (100%) (For Study Abroad students attending for only one semester, 1 x 2-hour test paper in December. Students should check the Study Abroad module catalogue for the relevant year for availability.)
Prerequisites: A pass in 4AACGK03 Greek Language 3 or a level 5 Greek text module, 5AACGT01-GT04.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand, there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

This is a Level 6 Greek text module, focusing on drama. The text prescription will vary from time to time, and will be announced before module choices have to be made for the next academic session. Specimen prescriptions, from previous years, can be found below. The examination will test knowledge of the context, content and themes of the set text(s), as well as translation ability.

For the specific text assigned for a particular year, please see below:

2017-18, Euripides, Bacchae

Module convenor/tutor: Dr Ismene Lada-Richards 

This module offers you the opportunity to read one fifth-century Athenian tragedy or comedy in the original Greek. The set text for 2017-18 is Euripides' Bacchae, one of the most powerful and haunting plays of the Athenian tragic repertoire. We will read the complete text (with some cuts in the case of particularly difficult sections of choral odes), paying attention to language but also to the play's fascinating themes: mystic cult, initiation rites, salvation and destruction; sexuality and gender; the playwright's close engagement with the ingredients of his own art: actors, roles and masks, spectators and spectacle. Why do we still find this Euripidean story irresistible?

The official text wherefrom examination passages will be set will be Oxford Classical Texts edition of Euripides' plays, vol. III, by J. Diggle.

In class, please buy and bring every week one of the following two editions, whichever one you either happen to own or can most easily acquire. However, both editions will need to be consulted eventually, to provide you with adequate coverage for the module's needs.

  • E. R. Dodds (ed) Euripides: Bacchae (2nd edn. Oxford 1960; paperback 1986)
  • R. Seaford (ed), Euripides' Bacchae (with introduction, translation and commentary) (Warminster 1996).

 This commentary is written by one of the world's leading experts on Dionysiac matters and we will be having constant recourse to it. If you can purchase your own copy, you will find it extremely useful. However, the book has been intermittently out of stock, so grab it the moment you see it!

Suggested Introductory Reading:

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

For those of you who have no exposure to Greek Drama at all, whether at University or even at school, it will be a good idea to do some background reading on the genre in general and Euripides in particular before joining this course. There are many good introductory works that will set you up nicely for this module (and beyond!), but see whether you can lay your hands on a couple of the following during the summer:

  • P. Easterling (ed), The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy (Cambridge 1997)
  • E. Hall, Greek Tragedy: Suffering under the Sun (Oxford 2010)
  • R. Scodel, An Introduction to Greek Tragedy (Cambridge 2010)
  • N. Sorkin Rabinowitz, Greek Tragedy (Blackwell 2008)
  • D. J. Mastronarde, The Art of Euripides: Dramatic Technique and Social Context (Cambridge 2010)

On the Bacchae in particular, you may want to have a look at:

  • C. P. Segal, Dionysiac Poetics and Euripides' Bacchae (Princeton 1982; second edition 1997)

You will also benefit from reading R. Seaford, Dionysos (Routledge 2006)

A full bibliography will be given to you at the beginning of the course, but if you are desperate for more during the summer, please get in touch!

Recommended study aids:

  • Liddell and Scott's Greek-English lexicon (the small abridged version should be sufficient).
  • D. J. Mastronarde, Introduction to Attic Greek (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London 1993).

2014-15, Sophocles, Trachiniae

Module convenor/tutor: Professor Michael Trapp

The play for this module will be Sophocles’s Trachiniae (Women of Trachis), which focuses on the homecoming of Heracles to his wife Deianeira after the latest in his long series of heroic adventures.  What should be a time of celebration and relief turns to horror and torment for both, as Deianeira’s innocently misguided attempt to win back her husband’s wandering affections goes agonizingly wrong, and victims of Heracles’s monster-fighting heroism from the distant past find a way to take their ghastly revenge.  The action of the play also raises issues to do with misunderstood prophecy, divine sanction for suffering, and the intransigence of heroism.

We will read the play in its entirety, concentrating as much on interpretation of its action and themes as on issues of grammar and translation.   Others of Sophocles’s tragedies will be used as points of reference, but will be consulted in English translation.

Set text

  • Sophocles: Trachiniae, ed. P.E. Easterling (CUP 1982)

Suggested Introductory Reading
This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

Other useful commentaries

  • Sophocles: Trachiniae, ed. M. Davies (OUP 1991) – advanced
  • Sophoclis Trachiniae, ed. A. Pretor (Deighton, Bell 1877) – basic
  • Sophocles: Trachiniae, ed. L. Campbella nd E. Abbott (OUP 1893) – basic

Sample background reading

  • Easterling, P., ‘Sophocles’ Trachiniae’, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 15 (1968), 58-6
  • Fuqua, C., ‘Heroism, Heracles and the Trachiniae’, Traditio 36 (1980), 1-81
  • Levett, B. Sophocles: Women of Trachis  (Duckworth 2004)
  • Segal, C., ‘The Hydra’s nurseling: image and action in the Trachiniae’, Antiquité classique 44 (1975), 612-17

2012-13, Euripides, Medea

Module convenor/tutor: Dr Ismene Lada-Richards

This module offers you the opportunity to read one fifth-century Athenian tragedy in the original Greek. Particular attention will be paid to the linguistic comprehension of the set text, but we will also endeavour to appreciate the multiple ways in which the set play interacts with its social, political and general cultural context and the ways in which it is indebted to and informed by the literary tradition that precedes it. The set text is Euripides' Medea, one of the everlasting favourites of the Athenian tragic repertoire.

Set text

  • D. J. Mastronarde, Euripides: Medea (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002) 
  • J. Mossman, Euripides: Medea (Warminster: Aris and Phillips 2011)

Suggested Introductory Reading
This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory. No prior knowledge will be taken for granted, but if you want to give yourselves a head-start, you can have a look at:

  • E. Hall, Greek Tragedy: Suffering under the Sun (Oxford 2010)
  • N. Sorkin Rabinowitz, Greek Tragedy (Blackwell 2008)
  • D. Mastronarde, The Art of Euripides: Dramatic Technique and Social Context (Cambridge 2010)
  • J. Clauss and S.I. Johnston, Medea: Essays on Medea in Myth, Literature, Philosophy, and Art, Princeton, 1997.
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