The plays of one ancient city 2,500 years ago by just four playwrights have had a profound effect on the development of all subsequent Western drama, not only on the theatrical stage, but on opera, film, television, stand-up comedy, and dance - in fact, most, if not all, of the live arts owe a debt to the theatre of ancient Greece and the city of Athens. This course will examine the social, historical, and political context of ancient Greek drama and equip listeners with a set of critical analytical tools for developing their own appreciation of this vitally important genre. The course will focus on the four extant playwrights, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, and examine each of their plays closely.
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I could not put this audiobook aside, and have listened to much of it several times. Professor Meineck discusses the significance of Greek drama and provides a great deal of information on the historical and cultural context in which the genre developed. He helps us to imagine the staging and see the plays from the viewpoint of the original audience. After this, five lectures provide an in-depth examination of the incomparable Aeschylus, two cover Sophocles, and the final three cover Euripides and Aristophanes.
For an example, lecture seven discusses Agamemnon. Here we are helped to imagine the sacrifice of Iphigenia, and a parallel is drawn to a perversion of the Greek wedding ceremony. Very interesting information is provided on the translation of Clytemnestra's assertion of fidelity, which is on the surface a bald-faced lie. Meineck returns to the original Greek to help us see that she has very carefully chosen her words. He discusses female power images in the beacon fires, and points out that Aeschylus has altered the myth to have Clytemnestra herself murder Agamemnon, rather than her lover. We are treated to a superb examination of Agamemnon's return, in which he is met by Clytemnestra's carefully staged welcome-trap. As she lays out a tapestry for the conquering hero to walk on, we see the murder of Iphigenia replayed. While preventing him from stepping on the soil of his homeland, she compels Agamemnon to wade through metaphorical blood, trampling the wealth of his own household, on his willing way to his own ritual sacrifice. Good stuff, as is the rest of this course. Highly recommended.
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One of the best courses I have ever listened to. Meineck help us see and appreciate the enormous power and beauty of the remarkable body of literature, as well as the art form of Greek drama and the history of which it was a part.
Great Survey of Greek Plays
What did you love best about The Modern Scholar?
Prof Meineck's knowledge and obvious enthusiasm about the subject.
(Though it is strange how the feedback question here seems to be on The Modern Scholar series and not this title in particular).
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Modern Scholar?
There were two: when he was describing the Oresteia (which isn't really a moment...); and when he gave (periodically) different translations of the same Greek text and examined the etymology of words.
Which scene was your favorite?
Guess it would be the Clytemnestra-Orestes scene, with all its complexities and nuances.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
I wouldn't make a film of this lecture.
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