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Semester and Year Offered: Winter semester 2016
Course Coordinator and Team: Bodh Prakash
Email of course coordinator: bodh[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in
Aim: Greek drama is arguably the second oldest (preceded only by the epic) surviving written literary expression in the Western world. It is also a very early example of a performance tradition that evolved around the two festivals of the Lenaia and the City Dionysia in Greece between roughly the 6th and 5th century B.C. The course aims to familiarize undergraduate students with the earliest dramatic traditions in the Western world through a study of both tragedies and comedies produced in this period. The relationship between religious ritual, social, political and philosophical issues and the Greek drama will be explored in order to understand broader Greek society and culture.
Course Outcomes: At the end of the course students would be able to:
Brief description of modules/ Main modules:
Module 1: Introduction to Greek history, society and culture
This module will introduce students to the historical background of Greek drama from about the middle of the 6th century to the first two decades of the 4th century. Brief extracts from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War (Pericles’ funeral oration) and Herodotus’ Histories will be read and discussed in class to familiarize students with how public and private selves were inter-connected in the Greek imagination.
Module 2: Greek Tragedy
2.1 The first part of this module will be concerned with the framework of tragedy and the tragic experience as theorised by Aristotle. Students will read the section on the tragic hero in Aristotle’s Poetics and explore the formal concepts of hamartia, catharsis, the unities and peripitaeia in tragedy.
2.2 The second part of the module will introduce students to two plays by Sophocles, Oedipus Rex and Antigone. Both plays will be discussed in detail in class and students will be required to understand how the Aristotlian conception of tragedy gets articulated in them.
Module 3: Greek comedy
Comedy originated in the satyr play, which was a brief postscript to the more “serious” genre of tragedy in the early fifth century. Later it evolved as a distinct theatrical form and separate prizes were instituted for comedies in the festival. While hundreds of comedies were produced in this period the only complete works that have survived are the plays of Aristophanes. His plays offer significant critiques of historical figures like Socrates, Euripides, and Pericles together with insights into the situation of women, political and social institutions, foreign relations, education and wars. The module will take up at least one play by Aristophanes for detailed discussion in class.
Assessment Details with weights:
Date/period in which Assessment will take place
Mid Semester Exam
As per academic calendar
Mid-September – Mid-November
End Semester Exam
As per academic calendar
Suggested Secondary Readings: