WORLD LITERATURE I (ENG 251)

Activities for Greek Drama

Dr. Diane Thompson, NVCC, ELI


Please read through all of these Activities before making your selection. Make a copy of the Activity question to begin your response. Post your Activity to the Activity 4: Greek Drama Forum in Blackboard. 

The chili peppers indicate the degree of difficulty of each Activity. One chili pepper is pretty easy. Two chili peppers are more difficult. Three chili peppers indicate a challenging Activity. However, your grade does not depend on the number of chili peppers, but on how well you deal with the Activity you select.

one chili peppersAgamemnon. The House of Atreus is one of the world's most famous dysfunctional families. Look up each of the family members, starting with Tantalus, write a brief biography of each, and then explain what the family's main problems were. Support your ideas with specific examples from your reading. Bulfinch's Mythology is a good place to start. Be sure to cite the sources you use and do not copy anything without attribution--that is plagiarism! It is better to paraphrase what you find, but you still must cite the sources used, or it is plagiarism! Plagiarized work will receive no credit and cannot be redone.
one chili peppersAgamemnon. Consider the scene where Clytemnestra persuades Agamemnon to walk into the palace on valuable tapestries. She is treacherous; he is arrogant. He has sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia; she has taken his cousin as her lover. So who is to blame for what happens next? Do you think her killing of Agamemnon is righteous vengeance or criminal murder? Support your position with specific examples from the play.
one chili peppersAgamemnon. Discuss Agamemnon's character as a king and as a husband in the play Agamemnon. Do you think he deserved to die? Why or why not? Support your comments with specific examples from the play.
one chili peppersThe Bacchae. Pentheus and all of Thebes are destroyed because he refuses to accept Dionysus as a god. Can you see any point in the play where Pentheus still had the opportunity to behave differently and avoid his terrible fate? If so, discuss this point and how Pentheus could have behaved differently; if not, explain by examining the play in detail why not. Support your position using specific examples from the play.
one chili peppersThe Bacchae. Did the people of Thebes deserve what the god did to them? After all, it was really only Pentheus who denied the divine nature of Dionysus. Can you see any kind of justice in the Bacchae? If so, what? Explain in detail using specific examples from the play to support your ideas.
one chili peppersLysistrata is about women seizing power and withholding sex in order to stop a war. However, it was written by a man during a period of history when Athenian women couldn't even go to the marketplace on their own. Do you think a woman would have written this play differently? Why? How? Be specific in your answer and use examples from the play to support your ideas.
one chili peppersMedea. Medea is betrayed by her mortal husband Jason. She responds by killing his father in law and new wife AND by murdering her own children who were fathered by Jason. Why do you think Medea kills her children? Use specific examples from the play to support your points.
one chili peppersMedea. Medea is a woman, a foreigner, a witch, a scary, powerful creature. Do you think Euripides was sympathetic to her strangeness, or did he use it to show what a horrid being she was? Discuss and support your comments with examples from the play.
one chili peppersOedipus the King. Discuss the relationship of Oedipus and Jocasta in Oedipus the King. Are there any indications that she is much older than Oedipus? That she might be his mother? Should Oedipus have been concerned about who she was when he married her? Do you suspect Oedipus of practicing DENIAL? Support your comments with specific examples from the play.
two chili peppersAgamemnon. What could be more dangerous than going off to war while a treacherous, adulterous woman stays at home? This is the threat of Clytemnestra. No matter how successful Agamemnon might be, he could not defend himself against his wife. She is one of the most feared and loathed women in Greek literature. List some of her interesting behavior patterns and explain why they make her seem so dangerous to Agamemnon and other Greek men of the time. You might want to look for background information using Diotima, which links to materials for the study of women and gender in the ancient world
two chili peppersOedipus the King. The fate of the infant Oedipus was predicted at birth. No matter what he did in life, he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother. Contrast this to the conditional futures that Tiresias predicts for Odysseus when he visits Hades in Book XI of the Odyssey. If Odysseus does one thing, "A" will happen, and if he does something else, then "B" will happen. Compare the fixed fate of Oedipus with the fluid fate of Odysseus. Use examples from both texts to support your points.
two chili peppersThere are a number of excellent films of Greek Dramas, including Agamemnon, Oedipus and Medea. If you can locate one of these films, watch it and write a critical review, describing how the film interprets the drama and comparing it to the text of the play (which you, of course, have read).
two chili peppersWoody Allen's film, Mighty Aphrodite, uses a Greek chorus which gradually moves from Greece to Manhattan over the course of the film. Compare his use of the Greek chorus to its use in a Greek drama that you have read. Be sure to support your ideas using specific details from both the Woody Allen film and the Greek drama.
three chili peppersBoth Oedipus and Job from the Hebrew Bible struggle with the question of the inscrutable nature of God's will. Although the answers are quite different, each is disturbing, because there does not seem to be much room for human understanding, action, and freedom in relation to God and/or fate. Compare/contrast these two ancient heroes who struggle with divine power and support your ideas with specific examples from both texts.
three chili peppersGilgamesh (Ishtar and Flood), Oedipus, Job and Pentheus (Bacchae). Examine the kinds of divine justice that you find in each of these ancient stories and see if you can find common themes and/or profound differences among them. You will need to consider each story in some depth and using specific details to support your ideas. Poetentially worth double credit if very well done.

Top


© Diane Thompson: 8/13/1998; last updated: August 19, 2015