CLA3201 - Classical Language and Texts: Greek V: Tragedy

This module is no longer in use. The information on this page is for reference only

2009/0 Module description

Lecturer(s)Prof R Seaford
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
Pre-requisitesClassical Language & Texts: Greek IV or equivalent.
Duration of Module2 semesters
Total Student Study Time300 hours over two semesters, including one 2-hour weekly seminar

Module aims

The module aims to produce advanced understanding of the language, style and significance of Greek tragedy by close study of selected plays. The plays are chosen from the three extant fifth-century tragedians. They include Aeschylus' Oresteia, the only surviving tragic trilogy, and one play from each of the other two tragedians, as well as Aristotle's Poetics (in English translation).

Intended learning outcomes

Module-specific skills

On completion of this module, students will be able to demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the language, style and content of the plays studied; be able to describe in detail and provide an advanced analysis of the form and significance of the genre of Greek tragedy.

Discipline-specific skills

Students will also be able to demonstrate advanced linguistic mastery of ancient Greek; enhanced critical and interpretative skills; and the ability to locate literary texts in their cultural context.

Personal and key skills

Students will also show a capacity for sustained independent analysis of literary texts in a foreign (ancient) language; and the capacity to discuss the content and form of these texts with peers and instructor

Learning and teaching methods

20 two-hour seminars, with instructor and students exploring closely the Greek texts and their significance. Seminars focused on key passages throughout plays, with instructor and students sharing in translation, interpretation and discussion.


Oral presentations and two 3,000 word module essays, one to be handed in before the end of term 1, the other before the end of term 2.


One three-hour examination paper in May/June (60% of module mark) consisting of 5 passages for translation or comment (70% of exam.) and one essay, chosen from a larger number (30% of exam.); two 3000-word essays, as above (40% of module mark: 20% each).

Syllabus plan

Semester 1:
Detailed study of Aeschylus' Oresteia, studied in the order of the trilogy: Agamemnon, Choephoroi, Eumenides.
Semester 2:
Detailed study of Sophocles' Electra, Euripides' Alcestis, and Aristotle's Poetics.

Indicative basic reading list

1. Prescribed texts (the editions listed are compulsory):
Aeschylus, Agamemnon, Choephoroe, Eumenides, ed. D.L. Page (Oxford Classical Texts: Oxford 1972)
Sophocles, Electra, ed. R.C. Jebb (rev. ed., Bristol 2004)
Euripides, Alcestis, ed. A.M. Dale (OUP 1954, reprinted paperback)
Aristotle, Poetics, ed./tr. M. Heath (Penguin: Harmondsworth 1996)
2. General reading:
E. Fraenkel (ed.), Aeschylus, Agamemnon (Oxford 1950): 3 volumes
A. Garvie (ed.), Aeschylus, Choephoroe (Oxford 1986)
A. Sommerstein (ed.), Aeschylus, Eumenides (Cambridge 1989)
Rush Rehm, The Greek Tragic Theatre (London 1992)
R. Seaford, Reciprocity and Ritual: Homer and Tragedy in the Developing City-State (Oxford 1994)
M.S.Silk Tragedy and the tragic
O. Taplin, Greek Tragedy in Action
J. Winkler and F. Zeitlin (edd.), Nothing to do with Dionysus? (Princeton 1990)
P Easterling (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy (Cambridge 1997)

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