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CLA 107 — Aeschylus' Oresteia

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 5 weeks
Date(s): Oct 29—Dec 3
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Nov 11
Unit: 1
Tuition: $315
Instructor(s): Marsh McCall
Status: Open
Please Note: No class on November 19
7:00—8:50 pm
Oct 29—Dec 3
5 weeks
Drop By
Nov 11
1 Unit
Marsh McCall
Please Note: No class on November 19
The three tragedies Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides that form Aeschylus’ Oresteia constitute what is probably the most monumental theatrical achievement in the entire sweep of Western drama. In this course, we will read and discuss the trilogy with intense care. Issues of divine and human justice, gender conflict, cycles of vengeance, and hopes of reconciliation will swirl around us constantly. We will meet one of the most unforgettable female characters in dramatic history in the person of Clytemnestra, Agamemnon’s queen, a role that our poet Aeschylus may well have given to himself. In the third play of the trilogy, The Eumenides, we will meet a chorus of chthonic female deities, the Furies, older than the Olympian gods and immovable in their passion to pursue and punish Orestes for his crime of matricide. We will see the Olympian goddess Athena resolve Orestes’ case in the first-ever law court of Athens, and we will see her transform the Furies into the Kindly Ones, the Eumenides. We will explore the immense power and complexity of Aeschylean poetry, and we will try to experience the action and staging of these seminal dramas as closely as possible to the ways in which they were experienced in the Athenian theater of Dionysus in 458 BCE.

Marsh McCall, Professor of Classics, Emeritus; Founder and Dean of Continuing Studies, Emeritus, Stanford

Marsh McCall has taught at Stanford since 1976. He has received the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Distinctive Contributions to Undergraduate Education, the annual Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize, the Alumni Association’s Richard W. Lyman Award for exceptional volunteer service to Stanford, and the Dean’s Award for Lifetime Achievements in Teaching in the School of Humanities and Sciences. He received a PhD from Harvard.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Aeschylus (Author) Grene, Lattimore Griffeth, Most (Editors, Translators), Aeschylus II : The Oresteia, 3rd Edition (2013) (ISBN 978-0-226-31147-0)
(Required) Aeschylus (Author) Oliver Taplin (Translator), The Oresteia, 1st Edition (2018) (ISBN 978-0-393-92328-5)