Greek drama of the classical era marks not simply the beginnings of formalized stagecraft in the western tradition, but a golden moment in the history of literature in which works of unfathomable interest and complexity were created. In this course, we will study closely one of the three canonical masters of the art, Euripides, whose themes and modes have strong (and perhaps suspicious) resonance with modernity.

Conspectus. This is a Greek course (technically, “Advanced Intermediate Greek”), so our primary objective will be to make the Greek text our own. We must read deeply in the original; but we will also want to get at least some sense of the scholarly debates. The course will therefore focus on two primary activities:

(1)Reading as much Euripides as we can. We will read with close attention to grammar, metrics, semantics, and stylistics two plays: the tragedy Medea, and the lone fully surviving satyr play from antiquity (a strange beast), the Cyclops. This will be the bulk of our activity.

(2)Sampling the secondary literature. Through two very brief papers (3-5 pages) and oral reports, we will sample (a) scholarship on the theatrical and social context for the play and (b) some greatest hits of the critical discussion of the play. As part of our cogitations on the theatricality of the play, we will also get together for one extranumerary session to view an striking film adaptation of Medea, Jules Dassin’s Dream of Passion (time & date TBD).

Graded material will be weighted as follows:

Quizzes, homework, class work, oral reports30%

Midterm examinations (two)40%

Final examination30%


Euripides’ Medea. Michelle Kwintner, ed. Bryn Mawr Commentaries, 1999. ISBN 978-0-929524-92-4.

Euripides’ Cyclops. S. Douglas Olson, ed. Bryn Mawr Commentaries, 1999. ISBN 978-0-929524-91-7.

You will also need to hand either the abridged or intermediate edition of Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon and H. W. Smyth’s Greek Grammar. Those with strong interests in tragedy should consider purchasing and using Donald J. Mastronarde, Euripides’ Medea (Cambridge, 2002), an excellent commentary (not used for this course since the commentary tends to overwhelm the Greek text; on reserve).

Reserve Texts.

E. Csapo and W. J. Slater. The Context of Ancient Drama. Ann Arbor, 1995. A collection of primary sources on the theatrical and social context.

P. E. Easterling, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy. Cambridge, 1997. A good collection of introductory essays on all aspects of tragedy.

Donald J. Mastronarde. Euripides’ Medea. Cambridge, 2002. The standard commentary; replaces Page (below), at least for the most part.

Denys L. Page. Euripides’ Medea. Oxford, 1938. Long the standard commentary; old-fashioned and in places out of date, but still valuable.

R. A. S. Seaford. Cyclops of Euripides. Oxford, 1984. The standard commentary.

Greek 076   

Advanced Intermediate Greek

Euripides: Medea, Cyclops

MWF 1:30   

Allen 229

William A. Johnson

Office: Allen 229B

Office hours TW 11-12, by chance, or by appt., 684-2082