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CLA 77 — The Tragedies of Aeschylus

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Jul 10—Aug 14
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jul 12
Unit: 1
Tuition: $385
Instructor(s): Barbara Clayton
Class Recording Available: No
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Jul 10—Aug 14
6 weeks
Refund Date
Jul 12
1 Unit
Barbara Clayton
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Aeschylus, the oldest and most venerable of the Greek tragic poets, is said to have written at least 70 plays, but, like so many ancient works, most are lost. Just seven plays survive. This course will consist of a close, in-depth reading of five of those plays.

We will begin with Oresteia, the only extant trilogy of Greek tragedy. These three plays tell the story of Agamemnon's return from Troy and his brutal murder by his wife, Clytemnestra (Agamemnon); the revenge enacted by his son, Orestes, who kills his mother and her lover, Aegisthus (The Libation Bearers); and the final resolution of this cyclical violence in Athens (The Eumenides). Our fourth play is the Persians, the only remaining historical Greek tragedy. It centers on the Persians' defeat by the Athenians at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE. In a bold move, Aeschylus chose Xerxes, king of the Persians and a man whom Greeks would have known as a fearsome enemy, to be this play’s tragic hero. Our last play, Prometheus Bound, tells the story of the Titan Prometheus, who undergoes a terrible punishment for defying Zeus in order to help mankind. The tragedies of Aeschylus are justly celebrated for their rich and complex language as well as themes that still resonate deeply today: power, justice, and moral choice and responsibility.

No previous knowledge of Greek tragedy is necessary.

Independent Scholar

Barbara Clayton has taught Classics at Oberlin College, Santa Clara University, and Stanford, where she was a lecturer in a freshman humanities program for many years. Since 2015, she has taught for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She is the author of A Penelopean Poetics: Reweaving the Feminine in Homer’s Odyssey. Clayton received a PhD in Classics from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) David Greene, ed., Aeschylus I, The Complete Greek Tragedies (ISBN 978-0226311449)
(Required) Aeschylus,David Greene, ed., Aeschylus II: The Oresteia, The Complete Greek Tragedies (ISBN 978-0226311470)
(Recommended) James C. Hogan, A Commentary on the Complete Greek Tragedies. Aeschylus (ISBN 978-0226348438)