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 Blackboard Activity 4: Greek Drama Forum. 

Agamemnon. The House of Atreus is one of the world's most famous dysfunctional families. Look up each of the family members, 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.
Agamemnon. 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.
Agamemnon. 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
Agamemnon. 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.
Lysistrata 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.
Medea. 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.
Medea. 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.
Oedipus 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.
Oedipus 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.
Oedipus the King and Antigone. Both Oedipus in Oedipus the King, and Creon in Antigone rule Thebes with arrogance and bad temper. Yet as rulers, they exhibit some very important differences. How are Oedipus and Creon different? Which king is the better leader? Why? Support your answer with examples from the plays. This can be worth double credit if you do a very thorough job and indicate that it is for double credit on your Activity.
There 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).
Woody 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.
Both 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.
Consider two stories where a father is asked by a god to sacrifice his child: Abraham in the Hebrew Bible and Agamemnon in Iphigenia at Aulis (by Euripides). Discuss what the two stories have in common and important ways in which they are different, using specific details from both texts.
Make up an interesting question of your own about a Greek Drama and answer it using relevant examples from the text(s).


(c) Diane Thompson: 8/14/1998; updated: 08/11/2005