Greek Tragedies

“Wisdom comes through suffering.
Trouble, with its memories of pain,
Drips in our hearts as we try to sleep,
So men against their will
Learn to practice moderation.
Favours come to us from gods.”

―Aeschylus, Agamemnon


Twenty-five hundred years after they were written, Classical Greek tragedies such as Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Antigone, and Euripides’ Medea still have the power to transfix us with their keen insight into human emotions and motivations.

Through  compelling language and such enduring characters as Oedipus, Jocasta, Creon, Antigone, Prometheus, Cassandra, Clytemnestra, Orestes and Iphigenia the Greek tragedians explored ideas of friendship, loyalty, love, pride, vengeance, justice, honor, kinship and fate. Along with Shakespeare, they have defined our sense of tragedy and our expectations of tragic theater.

Reading the tragedies is an immensely rewarding experience of refined artistry, rich poetry and penetrating ideas. This seven week study will read six classical Greek tragic dramas:

Aeschylus: Agamemnon
Sophocles: Oedipus Rex
Sophocles: Antigone
Sophocles: Philoctetes
Euripides: Medea
Euripides: Hippolytus

We will also read the Poetics, Aristotle’s still-influential study of the nature of tragic drama and human nature.

This study is part of a sequence looking at ancient Greek and Roman literature. Previous studies have included Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and Virgil’s Aeneid. The sequence will continue in  with Herodotus, Plato, Plutarch, Marcus Aurelius and the Stoics, and Ovid.


  • Seven meeting study
  • Recommended editions:
    • Greek Tragedies 1: Aeschylus: Agamemnon, Prometheus Bound; Sophocles: Oedipus the King, Antigone; Euripides: Hippolytus (Complete Greek Tragedies); University of Chicago Press; 3rd Revised edition edition (19 April 2013); ISBN-13: 978-0226035284
    • Oedipus the King and Other Tragedies, by Sophocles (Author), Oliver Taplin (Translator) (Oxford World’s Classics); Oxford University Press (10 Mar. 2016); ISBN-13: 978-0192806857
    • Medea, by Euripides (Author), Robin Robertson (Translator); Vintage Classics (6 Aug. 2009); ISBN-13: 978-0099511779
    • Poetics, by Aristotle (Author), S.H. Butcher (Translator) (Dover Thrift Editions); Dover Publications Inc.; New edition edition (2 Jan. 2000); ISBN-13: 978-0486295770

If you would like to request this study or have any questions about it, please contact us.



Posted on

January 9, 2019