The Peloponnesian War, Book II: Proxy Wars and Pericles’s Funeral Oration

Book II of edition of Thucydides’s History of the Peloponnesian War examines the true origin of the war. The thirty year peace between Athens and Sparta ends when Thebes (allied with the Peloponnesus) attacks Plataea (allied with Athens) and the Thebans surrender. Both cities are located north of Athens in Boetia. Plataea executes its 180 captured … Continue reading The Peloponnesian War, Book II: Proxy Wars and Pericles’s Funeral Oration

The Seven Against Thebes and The Phoenician Women Considered

Aeschylus's Seven Against Thebes is an odd, archaic play. The bulk of the play is a long reflection and recital of the blazonry on a champion's shield, during the backdrop of an impending duel between Oedipus's two sons, Polynices and Eteocles -with Eteocles playing the main role. As David Grene (the play's translator) notes, the … Continue reading The Seven Against Thebes and The Phoenician Women Considered

The Failure of Orestes

While many other Greek tragedies tend to reiterate already established myths and customs, Euripides's Orestes appears to be entirely his own invention. Chronologically, the plot of the play takes place after the events contained in Aeschylus's Libation Bearers. It was first performed in 408 BC, near the close of the Peloponnesian War. In Orestes, Electra recounts the story … Continue reading The Failure of Orestes

What Is Tragic About Greek Tragedy? Euripides’s Hecuba Considered

Euripides's Hecuba is perhaps the most bleak of the Greek tragedies. It takes place shortly after the sack of Troy by the Achaeans. The few remaining Trojans have been either killed or enslaved by the Greeks. Hecuba, Queen of Troy and wife of Priam, has been captured and enslaved by Odysseus. Like Job, the her life has had … Continue reading What Is Tragic About Greek Tragedy? Euripides’s Hecuba Considered

What is Love in the Symposium?

Plato’s famous dialogue, the Symposium, takes place the day after the tragic poet, Agathon, wins his first and only award at the Lenaia in 416 BC, the year before Alcibiades’s failed quest to Sicily. The dramatic setting occurs among a group of Athenians gathered at Agathon’s house in Athens to celebrate his victory. The party is … Continue reading What is Love in the Symposium?