Greek Tragedy: Tragedy in the Age of Pericles
Instructor: William Hutton
Office: Morton 326
Office hours: MWF 12-1 pm and by appointment.
Time and place of Class: MWF 8-8:50 am; Morton 340 (?)
Important Electronic Addresses:
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This is course will read three Athenian tragedies in the original Greek, one each by each of the great tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. These three playwrights belonged to different generations, but there was a period, late in the career of Aeschylus and relatively early in the careers of Euripides and Sophocles, when all three of them were producing plays. Though considerable doubt exists as to the dating of two of the three plays (and considerable doubt about even the authorship of one of them), all can be at least tentatively assigned dates between the 450’s and the early 430’s BCE, a period in which Athens was expanding her empire, the Parthenon was being built, and the reins of political and cultural influence were being grasped ever more firmly by Pericles. Thus, while we will make traditional observations about the differences in the style and outlook of three playwrights, we will also keep an eye out for similarities and ask whether they have anything to do with the common historical setting that they all shared.
The goals of the course include: 1) Continuing the development of your grasp of Greek grammar and vocabulary; 2) Introducing you to the forms and conventions of one of the major genres of Greek literature 3) Giving you an intimate acquaintance with three plays that were influential both in their own time and in later periods 4) Providing you with practice in the appreciation of literature in its social and historical context.
Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound (Griffith, ed.)
Sophocles, Ajax (Stanford, ed.)
Euripides, Alcestis (Dale, ed.)
Euripides, Alcestis (Hamilton & Haslam, eds.)
Optional Reference Work:
H.G. Liddell, Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon.
Assignments and Grading:
Your grade will be calculated as follows:
- Class participation: 5%
- Short quizzes and assignments:15%
- Oral presentation10%
- Term paper: 20%
- Mid-semester exams (each) 20%
- Final exam: 30%
NOTE: Your grade will be calculated on a strictly numerical basis and converted to letter grades on the following scale: 93-100 = A; 89-92 = A-; 85-88=B+; 81-84 = B; 77-80 = B-; 74-76 = C+; 71-73 = C; 68-70 = C-; 64-67 = D+; 60-63 = D; 55-59= D-; Below 55 = F.
Explanation of Grade Components:
- Class participation: Includes attendance, preparation, participation in discussion. The following is a partial list of things that will affect this component of your grade adversely: Missing class without a very good reason (one percentage point for the first occurrence, two for the second, three for the third, etc.), frequent tardiness, obvious lack of preparation, not participating in discussions, sleeping in class (particularly if you snore), eating noisy food in class, in general, being inconsiderate.
- Quizzes and assignments: Brief quizzes will begin on the second Friday of the semester and will recur on a more-or-less weekly basis. Quizzes will include any or all of the following: translation of prepared passages, translation of sight passages, metrical exercises, commentary on passages. In addition, either in-class or take-home written assignments may be given from time to time.
- Oral Report: Each student will be responsible for delivering a 10-minute oral report and leading class discussion on a work of scholarship pertinent to our plays. These reports will occur on Mondays, beginning as early as the third Monday in the term. A list of works to choose from will be distributed early in the semester.
- A relatively short term paper (ca. 2000 words) is required and will be due on the last day of class. The topic, which may be related to that of the oral report, must be decided upon in consultation with me.
- Exams (Midterms and Final): Will include any or all of the following: translation of prepared passages, translation of sight passages, metrical exercises, commentary on passages. The final exam will be designed to last only ca. 90 minutes and will include sight translation passages from all three playwrights.
Important Course Policy:
No late papers or assignments will be accepted without verifiable evidence of dire circumstances. No special arrangements whatsoever will be made if you do not notify me of your dire circumstances within 48 HOURS after the deadline of the paper/assignment.
Tentative Class Schedule: This schedule presents the main topics to be covered each week. More specific information on assignments will be given as we proceed through the semester, but the DATES of the tests and the DEADLINES for the paper will remain the same barring some unforeseen major catastrophe.
Week 1 Aug 29-31: Prometheus Bound
Week 2 Sept 3-7: Prometheus Bound
Sept 7 (Friday) First Quiz
Week 3 Sept 10-14: Prometheus Bound
Week 4 Sept 17-21: Prometheus Bound
Sept 17 (Monday): First possible day for oral reports
Week 5 Sept 24-28: Prometheus Bound
Sept 28 (Friday): TEST #1
Week 6 Oct 1-5: Sophocles’ Ajax
Week 7 Oct 8-12: Ajax
Week 8 Oct 15-19: Ajax
Oct 15 (Monday) NO CLASS (Fall Break)
Week 9 Oct 22-26: Ajax
Week 10 Oct 29-Nov 2: Ajax
Week 11 Nov 5-9: Ajax/Alcestis
November 5 (Monday): TEST #2
Week 12 Nov 12-16: Euripides’ Alcestis
Week 13 Nov 19-23: Alcestis
Nov 19 (Monday): DEADLINE for approval of term paper topic
Nov 21-23: NO CLASS (Thanksgiving)
Week 14 Nov 26-30: Alcestis
Week 15 Dec 3-7: Alcestis
Dec 7 (Friday): TERM PAPER DUE
Dec 11 (Tuesday) 8:30 am: FINAL EXAM