Summer 2006
Fully Enrolled

HUMS 630
The Tragic Moment: Democracy and Myth in Fifth-Century Athens


06/27/2006 - 07/27/2006
Tuesday & Thursday 09:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Downey 100

The great French scholar Jean-Pierre Vernant has written about what he terms "the tragic moment." By this he means the convergence in fifth-century Athens of full democracy and traditional myth, and the dramatic expression of that convergence on the tragic stage.

In this course we will examine Greek tragedy in its literary, social, and mythological context. We will read selected tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides (usually one play per class session) along with modern critical essays. Keeping in mind that the tragic playwrights were thought of as teachers for the community, we will consider how Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides adapted traditional stories of gods and heroes to address some of the most important problems confronting their fellow citizens: war and peace, conflicting definitions of loyalty, relations between men and women, and the responsibilities of the powerful to the powerless.

Assignments will include several short (two-page) papers and a slightly longer (five-page) paper at the end of the course. Participation in class discussion is expected.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Andrew Szegedy-Maszak (B.A. University of Michigan; M.A., Ph.D., Princeton University) is Jane A. Seney Professor of Greek, professor of classical studies, and Director, Center for Faculty Career Development. He has curated 10 exhibitions of photography and antiquities, is author of more than 40 articles, and his books include The Nomoi of Theophrastus (New York: Arno Press, 1981) and Antiquity and Photography: Early Views of Ancient Mediterranean Sites, with Claire Lyons and John Papadopoulos (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005).


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Aeschylus, THE ORESTEIA, Translated by Fagles(Penguin), Paperback

Herodotus, THE HISTORIES, Translated by de Selincourt (Penguin), Paperback

Lattimore & Grene, COMPLETE GREEK TRAGEDIES: EURIPIDES I (University of Chicago), Paperback

Lattimore & Grene, COMPLETE GREEK TRAGEDIES: EURIPIDES III (Univerisity of Chicago), Paperback

Lattimore & Grene, COMPLETE GREEK TRAGEDIES: EURIPIDES V (University of Chicago), Paperback

Plutarch, THE RISE AND FALL OF ATHENS, Translated by Scott-Kilvert (Penguin), Paperback

Sophocles, THE THREE THEBAN PLAYS, Translated by Fagles (Penguin), Paperback

Thucydides, THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR, Translated by S. Lattimore (Hackett), Paperback


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