Greek Tragedy : The Great Courses: Western Literature

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
  • Series: The Great Courses: Western Literature
  • 12 hrs and 30 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Greek tragedy was a dramatic form that flourished for less than a full century. And yet it remains vibrant, alive, and productive today. And the form's masterpieces help us - as perhaps they helped their original audiences - grasp a fuller sense of the terror and wonder of life. Professor Vandiver has designed these 24 rich and rewarding lectures to give you a full overview of Greek tragedy, both in its original setting and as a lasting contribution to the artistic exploration of the human condition. You'll learn to see Greek tragedy as a genre in its cultural context. What is tragedy's deeper historical background? Did it grow out of rituals honoring the god Dionysus, as is so often said? How did Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides each make unique contributions to tragedy's expressive power?
You'll also uncover what scholarship can reveal about the actual performance of Greek tragedy, including its physical and ritual settings, actors and acting methods, conventions of staging and stagecraft, and even how productions were financed. And with this solid background in place, you'll explore a broad group of tragedies in close detail. In particular, you'll see how individual tragedies used traditional myths (often tales from the Trojan War), and what Aeschylus, Sophocles, or Euripides intended to accomplish by changing or adding to the basic story. You'll examine what certain tragedies imply about the world of 5th-century Athens and the importance, in turn, of the cultural background for explaining those tragedies.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Theatre History Done Right!

Professor Elizabeth Vandiver provides a clear and succinct portrayal of Greek Tragedy. The lectures discuss how tragedy was developed, the three extant tragic playwrights, as well as the ways in which Greek Tragedy was staged. For as a professional theatre artist myself, I think many people look at Greek Tragedy as simply literature but in truth it was meant to be preformed. Professor Vandiver's facts are well researched and when she does give her own scholarly opinion she informs the listener. She also is very clear that the evidence on which our knowledge of this period are based is very scant, therefore the listeners should also be cautious of taking opinions as fact. However, I would warn a listeners that if you do not have a basic knowledge of Greek Mythology and/or Greek Theatre you may have a hard time following parts of the lecture. This course does assume that you come to the table with some knowledge.
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- Joshua

Another Winner from Professor Vandiver - Well Done

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Everytime I purchase a course from Professor Vandiver I end up very satisfied with my investment. Her courses on the Aeneid, the Oddyssey, and the Illiad were great. This one joined that group. I originally had no desire to check out her course "Classical Mythology" but I may purchase it as much because she is teaching it as the topic.

• The professor was easy to listen to (almost every sentence was easy to understand and she made her points fast)
• Great information on the origins of Greek tragedy, speculation on staging considerations, historical context in which the plays were performed, mythology background on which the plays’ plots were based, and the summary and critical analysis of the plots

Very minor minuses (and the positives definitely outweighed these):
• At times the professor spoke too fast and almost seemed to rush through some lectures, especially when providing background mythology information which made it hard to follow along with the stories
• While it was understandable that the professor could not cover every play in the time allotted, for completeness sake if she at least gave a quick plot summary of the nine Euripides plays she hadn’t discussed it would’ve exceeded expectations
• Instead of discussing all of Aeschylus’ works, then Sophocles, and then Euripides, there was some bouncing back and forth between the three tragedians’ works (mainly so as to point out differences and similarities between two plays by two different tragedians that concentrated on the same mythological source material but this made it a little difficult to keep track of how many plays have been covered for each tragedian)

I would recommend this course to anyone interested in theater, classical literature, or classical mythology.

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- Tommy D'Angelo

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses