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William Shakespeare – Plays – England

By | 2018-04-08T11:14:25+00:00 August 6th, 2017|Literature, Modern Europe|

William Shakespeare In 1600 AD, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, it was still a pretty new thing to write anything in English rather than Latin. William Shakespeare took advantage of the Renaissance. Scholars had translated Greek and Latin plays into Italian and English. Nore and more people were reading them. Everyone was excited [...]

Plot of the Trojan Women – Euripides

By | 2018-04-23T10:13:18+00:00 July 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+00:00 July 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+00:00 July 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+00:00 July 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+00:00 July 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+00:00 July 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+00:00 July 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 [...]

Medea – Euripides – Summary

By | 2018-04-23T09:05:34+00:00 July 10th, 2017|Greeks, Literature|

Medea: Creusa gets her new magic dress from a slave The Greek playwright Euripides wrote the play Medea in Athens, in the late 400s BC. It's about the opposition, the agon, between Greeks and barbarians, where the Greeks are rational, controlled people, and the barbarians are irrational, passionate, unthinking. In this way, the play [...]

Libation Bearers – Aeschylus – Summary

By | 2018-04-23T08:14:56+00:00 July 10th, 2017|Greeks, Literature|

Libation Bearers: Orestes This is the second of a cycle of three plays written by the Greek playwright Aeschylus. Some time has passed since the murder of Agamemnon. Agamemnon's children, Orestes and Electra, have grown up with their mother Clytemnestra and their stepfather Aegisthus. But they are very unhappy, because they know their [...]