Humanities Seminars Course
War in Ancient Greek Drama
The first great work of Western literature, Homer’s phenomenal epic The Iliad, sings of the Trojan War, its horrors and its glories. To the ancient Greeks war was a fact of life. Proving oneself in battle was fundamental to becoming a man. Despite modern Western beliefs that we can resolve conflicts diplomatically, war still confronts us. Today, facing an implacably savage enemy leaves many conflicted about the morality of warfare.
Greek warfare differed from modern practices: unquestioningly accepting that war was necessary; promoting the material gains of war; glorifying the warrior; and especially the concept of a “beautiful death.” Appreciating the range of ancient Greek views about war will broaden students’ perspective on contemporary issues, and the portrayals of these views through the intensified dramatics of the plays we will read will vibrantly engage students.
Please note: You may use any translation of the assigned plays that you have or find ready access to in hard copy or online. The books ordered are the fewest available with decent translations at a fairly low price.
Aeschylus. Oresteia. Trans. Peter Meineck. Hackett Publishing, 1998. ISBN-13: 978-0872203907.
The Complete Aeschylus: Volume II: Persians and Other Plays. Trans. by Peter Burian and Alan Shapiro. Oxford University Press, 2009.ISBN-13: 978-0195373288.
The Complete Sophocles: Volume II: Electra and Other Plays. Trans. by Peter Burian and Alan Shapiro. Oxford University Press, 2009.ISBN-13: 978-0195373301.
Euripides. Electra and Other Plays. Trans. by John Davie. Penguin Classics, 1999. ISBN-13: 978-0140446685.
Aristophanes: The Complete Plays. Trans. by Paul Roche. Penguin, 2005. ISBN-13: 978-0451214096.
Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis in Euripides Bacchae and Other Plays. Trans. by James Morwood. Oxford Paperbacks, Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN: 978-0199540525.