Masterpieces of Classic Greek Drama

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006 - Drama - 217 pages
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Aeschylus' "Oresteia," Sophocles' "Oedipus" plays, Euripides' "Medea" and "Bacchae," and Aristophanes' "Birds" and " Lysistrata" are discussed in this lively and scholarly volume. The author's experience teaching these plays to gifted high school students makes this volume particularly useful. The drama festivals, the adaptations of myth, the relevance of Aristotelian criteria, and the political and cultural background of each play are described fully, and the nature of tragedy and comedy, plot construction, stagecraft, theme, character, imagery and individual odes and speeches are analyzed in depth.

The 5th century BC witnessed the flourishing of Athenian culture and was one of the most influential periods in history. The achievements of the Greeks at that time forever shaped our political and legal institutions and provided the foundation for Western civilization. At the same time, the world of the Greeks is distant and exotic to contemporary students. The values and beliefs of the Greeks are best represented in the plays that were crafted at that time, and these works continue to be widely read and studied. This book is a valuable introduction to ancient Greek drama.

Designed for high school students, undergraduates, and their teachers, this work describes the origins and physical aspects of ancient Greek theatre, discusses Aristotle's "Poetics," and analyzes, in ten separate chapters, ten frequently studied Greek plays: Aeschylus' "Oresteia," Sophocles' "Antigone, Oedipus Rex" and "Oedipus at Colonus," Euripides' "Medea" and "Bacchae" and Aristophanes' "Birds" and "Lysistrata." For each there is cultural, political and mythological background, plot synopsis, and analysis of overall structure and important scenes, speeches and odes. The Aristophanes chapters explore comic method and all chapters discuss theme and stagecraft in depth.


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Aeschylus The Agamemnon 458 BC
Aeschylus The Choephoroi The Libation Bearers 458 BC
Aeschylus The Eumenides 458 BC
Sophocles The Antigone 442 BC
Sophocles The Oedipus Rex 426 BC
Sophocles The Oedipus at Colonus 406 BC performed 401 BC
Euripides The Medea 431 BC
Euripides The Bacchae 406 BC performed 405 BC
Aristophanes The Birds 414 BC
Aristophanes The Lysistrata 411 BC
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Page 11 - Under this monument lies Aeschylus the Athenian, Euphorion's son, who died in the wheatlands of Gela. The grove of Marathon with its glories can speak of his valor in battle. The long-haired Persian remembers and can speak of it too.

About the author (2006)

Helaine L. Smith teaches English and mythology at The Brearley School.

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