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Terence – Plays – Roman literature

By |2018-04-21T13:19:59+00:00September 4th, 2017|Africa, Literature, Romans|

A page from a manuscript of Terence, written about 825 AD (now in the Vatican) Terence was born about 185 BC, soon after the end of the Second Punic War. His whole name was Publius Terentius Afer. Because he has "Afer" (which means Africa) as part of his name, people think he may have come [...]

Plautus – Roman plays – ancient Rome

By |2017-09-04T00:45:19+00:00September 4th, 2017|Literature, Romans|

Actors in ancient Rome During the Roman Republic, when the Romans first began to go to plays, there weren't any plays written in Latin, only plays in Greek. Plautus (PLAW-tuss or PLOW-tuss) was one of the first people who wrote plays in Latin for these Roman audiences, in the late 200s BC (about the time of the Second Punic [...]

William Shakespeare – Plays – England

By |2018-06-22T22:56:13+00:00August 6th, 2017|Literature, Modern Europe|

William Shakespeare Who was William Shakespeare? Little Shakespeare was born in England, in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, in 1564 AD. His family was pretty well off, and he probably went to good schools. Nobody knows if he went to college. Shakespeare got married when he was just 18 years old! England was getting much [...]

Plot of the Trojan Women – Euripides

By |2018-04-23T10:13:18+00:00July 11th, 2017|Greeks, Literature|

Cassandra dragged away from the altar (House of Menander, Pompeii, ca. 70 AD) Euripides lived in ancient Athens. He wrote the Trojan Women in 415 BC during the Peloponnesian War. This was just after the Athenians had killed every man on the island of Melos, and enslaved all the women and children. The play [...]

Who was Sophocles? Greek playwright

By |2018-05-21T22:39:24+00:00July 11th, 2017|Greeks, Literature|

Papyrus with part of Sophocles' play Antigone written on it When did Sophocles live? Aeschylus is the first playwright whose plays survive, but Sophocles (ca. 496-406 BC) is the second. (More about Aeschylus) Sophocles lived at the same time as Aeschylus, but he was younger and he lived longer. He died at the [...]

Phaedra’s suicide – Euripides’ Phaedra

By |2018-06-19T15:58:18+00:00July 11th, 2017|Greeks, Literature|

After Phaedra's suicide, Hippolytus drives his chariot away (On a red-figure vase from Southern Italy, ca. 350 BC) Phaedra - the second half of the play So the clueless chorus is singing about the need for love and balance in people's lives. (What's the beginning of Phaedra's story?) Phaedra's suicide But suddenly Phaedra's [...]

Phaedra and Hippolytus – Euripides

By |2018-04-23T09:09:06+00:00July 10th, 2017|Greeks, Literature|

Phaedra falls in love with the hunter Hippolytus (Pompeii, ca. 79 AD) Phaedra is a play written by the Greek playwright Euripides. It is concerned with dike, justice, but also with sophrosyne, or control: how do people control themselves? When should they control themselves? Is control always good? In this way, the play [...]

Oedipus at Colonus – Sophocles

By |2018-04-23T08:49:31+00:00July 10th, 2017|Greeks, Literature|

A later painting of Antigone and Oedipus, by Camille Felix Bellanger, in the 1800s. Oedipus at Colonus is a play written by Sophocles. It tells the story of what happened to Oedipus after he left Thebes. Oedipus is old now, and he's blind, because he pulled out his own eyes. His daughter (and [...]

Oedipus Rex – Sophocles – Summary and Themes

By |2018-04-23T09:06:11+00:00July 10th, 2017|Greeks, Literature|

Oedipus Rex: The shepherd tells his story to Oedipus, while Jocasta listens in horror (now in the Getty Museum) Sophocles wrote this very famous play in the 400s BC. It is mainly about fate, and how men do not control their own fate, no matter how much they try. It's about accepting that [...]

Who was Menander? An ancient Greek playwright from Athens

By |2017-12-21T10:56:44+00:00July 10th, 2017|Greeks, Literature|

Who was Menander? Here he is on a fresco painting from Pompeii, in Italy, painted after he died. Who was Menander? Menander is the only playwright from the Hellenistic period whose plays survive. Actually only one play, the Dyskolos, survives, and a lot of fragments. Even the Dyskolos was unknown until about thirty [...]