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Saturday Seminars: Aeschylus

Saturday, March 18, 2023 at 9:30am to 12:00pm

Baker Downtown Center
975 High Street, Eugene, OR 97401

“Tragedy is not only an art form: it is also a social institution that the City, by establishing competitions in tragedies, set up alongside its political and legal institutions. The City established, in the same urban space and with the same norms as its popular assemblies and courts, a spectacle open to all citizens, directed, acted and judged by members of the various tribes.

Although tragedy, more than any other genre of literature, appears rooted in social reality, it does not reflect that reality, but calls it into question. By depicting it rent and divided against itself, it turns it into a problem. The drama brings to the stage an ancient heroic legend, a past sufficiently distant for the contrasts between the mythical traditions it embodies, and the new forms of legal and political thought, to be clearly visible; a past still close enough that this clash is still taking place. Tragedy is born when myth starts to be considered from the point of view of the citizen. Not only the world of myth dissolves in this focus; the world of the city is also called into question, and its fundamental values are challenged. The questions are posed, but tragic consciousness can find no fully satisfactory answers to them, so they remain open.” Jean-Pierre VernantMyth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece (1990) 


We will read and discuss the seven surviving plays of Aeschylus. Note that the first play should be read before the first class. There are many paperback versions of Aeschylus available that might serve, but this one is strongly recommended:

David Grene and Richard Lattimore, eds., Aeschylus I and II (Univ. of Chicago, 2013, 3rd ed.) ISBN: 978-0-226-31144-9 (vol. 1); 978-0-226-31147-0 (vol. 2). The two volumes together cost $25 on Amazon.


February 25: Agamemnon

March 4: The Libation Bearers; Eumenides

March 12: The Suppliant Maidens; The Persians

March 26: Seven Against Thebes; Prometheus Bound


Dr. James Earl is Professor Emeritus of English in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oregon.

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations, Seminar


Division of Student Services and Enrollment Management, Continuing and Professional Education, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Target Audience

All Students, Faculty/Staff, General Public, Alumni



$95 OLLI-UO Members; $135 General Community Members


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