11  18  25 


 2  9  16  23  30 


 6  13  20  27 


 4  11  18 



 8  15  22  29 


 5  12  19  26 


 4  11  18 


 1  8  15  22  29 


 6  13  20  27 

Unit III: Athenian Tragedy, ca. 480-400 B.C.

Theatre of Dionysus, Athens Greece
The Athenian Theater of Dionysus. Photograph courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Week 10: Aeschylus (ca. 525-456/5 B.C.)

Now we leap ahead several centuries, through the Greek Dark Age (ca. 1100-800 B.C.), to the heyday of Athenian culture and the rise of democracy. One of the peculiar institutions of Athens is its drama, which was originally written for religious festivals in the Theater of Dionysus.

Please read by class this week:

For this week, I am assigning the first and last plays of the only surviving trilogy in the whole Greek dramatic corpus — that is, the Oresteia (“The Orestes Story”) of Aeschylus. (The Theban plays of Sophocles, which we’ll be looking at next time, are sometimes erroneously referred to as a trilogy, but the distinguishing feature of a Greek tragic trilogy is that all three plays are produced in the same year and presented together. The Theban plays were not.) The first play is called the Agamemnon, and the last is called the Eumenides. You may wish to read the middle play (Choephoroi or The Libation Bearers) as well, if you have time. If you want to read the Choephoroi or any other pieces of Greek drama, you can of course look them up in a library; or you can read them online on a website or download a public domain version of the text from a suitable FTP location.

Orestes and Pylades
Orestes and Pylades, First-century Greco-Roman,
Paris, Musée du Louvre; © Copyright, Bruce McMenomy, 2010.

In stores and libraries:

On the web: