10 Greek Plays That Are Essential to Any Education

Whether you love Greek history and culture or find it dull beyond words, there’s no denying that classical scholarship has had a big impact on just about every succeeding aspect of Western culture. College students pursuing degrees in fields like history, philosophy, theater, creative writing and art history (among others) will be especially well-served reading these works, as they inspired many other later artists, writers and thinkers and are referenced in numerous ways today– a testament to their enduring power.

But what are the 10 plays?  Find out here:


‘Clouds’ in Fleet Street

By an oversight I never posted this one, I fear. Hope it’s not too late. We are talking March – not all the dates make that clear.

flytheatre presents
a dazzling new musical comedy

Pre-show speakers announced! See below for details…
BOOK NOW for special schools offers – Friday 27th already SOLD OUT!

Tuesday 24th – Saturday 28th March 2009 (Friday 27th SOLD OUT)
At The Bridewell Theatre, Fleet Street, London

Evening performances at 7pm
Matinee Thursday March 26th at 3.45pm


Idiotic bumpkin Strepsiades has a problem – he’s in terrible debt
and his creditors are about to crunch. Only Socrates (philosopher, teacher, madman) can help.

Following last year’s hugely successful premiere, Clouds is back in
London for one week only and the tickets are selling fast…

Don’t miss this chance to see Aristophanes at his absurd best!

Follow this link for more information:

Special prices for Schools:
Tickets for school students are priced at £8.50 each.
School groups can book tickets now via our group sales line:
Call 01568 613823 or email groups@flytheatre.co.uk

Please note: this production contains strong language and sexual
(It is Aristophanes after all!)

EDUCATION PROGRAMME in association with the Oxford University Classics Outreach Programme

An education pack will shortly be available to download (free of
charge) from the Clouds website: http://www.cloudslondon.com.

Pre-show Talks (free of charge for audience members!)

Weds 25th – “An Introduction to Aristophanic Comedy” by Dr James Robson (Open University)

Thurs 26th Matinee – “Cloudcuckooland or Subversion? Philosophy and
Science in Aristophanes’ Clouds” by Professor Chris Emlyn-Jones (Open

Thurs 26th Evening – “The Cloudspotter’s Guide to Comedy Ancient and
Modern” by Dr Nick Lowe (Royal Holloway)

Fri 27th – “But What Did It Really Sound Like? Music and Voice in the
Ancient Comic Theatre” by Dr Armand D’Angour (Jesus College, Oxford University)

Our in-school workshops can be tailored to your requirements and
complement important modules in the Classical Civilisation, Drama, Theatre Studies and Ancient History syllabuses. Please contact our Education Officer, Simon Andrews, to make enquiries.

For more information on any of these events, or to enquire about a
workshop, please contact our Education Officer, Simon Andrews,
at education(AT)flytheatre.co.uk

What the Romans learnt from Greek mathematics

Someone is defending a thesis on this. Meanwhile it’s quite interesting to see the outline.

Greek mathematics is considered one of the great intellectual achievements of antiquity. It has been decisive to the academic and cultural development of Western civilisation. The three Roman authors Varro, Cicero and Vitruvius were all, in their own way, influenced by Greek knowledge and transferred it to Roman literature. In his dissertation, Erik Bohlin, at the University of Gothenburg – Göteborg -, Sweden, studied the traces of Greek influence on these authors with regard to the mathematical branch of geometry.

Most people have heard of the great Greeks Euclid and Archimedes. And who is not familiar with Pythagoras’ theorem? When Rome usurped political power around the Mediterranean, the Romans came into close contact with Greek culture, its literature and science.

According to some sources, the Roman author Varro is supposed to have written a book on the subject of geometry. This book has not been preserved however. In Erik Bohlin’s view, after critical examination of the collective historic evidence, very little can be established with reasonable probability about its contents. Earlier research has attempted to claim, for example, that Varro’s book was used by later Roman authors as a source of geometric teaching matter. This assertion does not stand up to critical examination, however, and must be seen as a more or less unfounded hypothesis according to Bohlin.

Cicero’s rhetorical and philosophical writings contain many passages that deal with or touch on the subject of geometry. Geometry and geometric knowledge are fundamental in Vitruvius’ De architectura (On architecture). There are many passages in which geometry is applied practically or which assume that the reader is familiar with it. The dissertation comments on and interprets a selection of significant passages from both these authors.

For Vitruvius, the practical use of geometry does of course come first: geometric designs are required in architecture, not least, to achieve exact drawings. In general, the scientific view of the Romans was strongly influenced by limiting utilitarianism: only knowledge with immediate practical use was worth cultivating.

According to the author of the dissertation, this picture ought to be nuanced, however, especially with regard to the authors Cicero and Vitruvius who essentially had an open and appreciative attitude to the Greek advances in mathematics and studies of geometry – even if practical use came first. Bohlin finds a clearly expressed ideological dimension to the significance of geometry in both Cicero and Vitruvius. Geometry is regarded as an integrated part of civilisation and refined human culture. As such, an inherent cultural value, which is thereby also universal, is attached to geometry.

For Cicero and, in particular, for Vitruvius, this ideological dimension was not independent of practical use, but both aspects were seen as linked.
“With this perspective, the actual differences between that which is Roman and that which is Greek can be toned down, and in this we find a motivation for Cicero’s and Vitruvius’s more open attitude to geometry and Greek knowledge in general,” says Bohlin.

Title of dissertation: Geometry in Varro, Cicero, and Vitruvius. A Philological Study.

The public defence will take place on Saturday, 7 March 2009 at 10 am.
Place: Room T 302, Arkeologen, Olof Wijksgatan 6, Gothenburg, Sweden

Faculty examiner: Professor Micheline Decorps-Foulquier, Clermont-Ferrand, France

For more information, contact Erik Bohlin, tel. +46(0) 31-786 46 91 (work),
email: erik.bohlin@class.gu.se

Performance of Oedipus in Bexleyheath

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before.

Tickets are now on sale for my production of ‘Oedipus the King’ ( 21st – 28th March, 2009, at the Edward Alderton Theatre, Brampton Road, Bexleyheath, Kent). Price £7.00 per ticket. Performances begin at 8.00 p.m. No performance Sunday 22nd. One teacher ticket free with every ten tickets purchased for students. Book soon to avoid disappointment (020 8301 5584). For further details or a poster contact me, Clive Madel, at cmadel@camdengirls.camden.sch.uk

Clive Madel, Head of Classics, Camden School for Girls

Greek ‘computer’ reconstructed.

The Guardian Science blog
has a YouTube video demonstrating a modern reconstruction of the Antikythera mechanism.

Greek Tragedy Day with performance of Hippolytus

I pass on this email just as it came to me.

Dear Colleague,

I would like to invite you and a group of 6th form students to a “Greek Tragedy Day” to be held at Stockport Grammar School on Thursday, 12th February 2009. The day will comprise a series of lectures and a matinee performance of our school’s production of Euripides’ “Hippolytus”.

We have put on a tragedy in each of the last three years: Medea in 2006, Agamemnon in 2007 and Oedipus in 2008. Our pupils have found the plays very useful in visualising the nature and content of tragedy. As our productions of the plays fulfil a crucial academic role, we have never strayed too far from the text and spirit of the original plays. However, we have always tried, via the use of music and video, to make the plays accessible and enjoyable to a modern audience.

I am pleased that, this year, representatives from the Universities of Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester have agreed to give lectures about some of the most important aspects of “Hippolytus” and Greek tragedy in general. I will also talk to the pupils about Greek tragedy in performance. We are thus able to offer a “Greek Tragedy Day” which I hope the pupils will find both enjoyable and useful. There may also be an opportunity for the pupils to speak to the visiting lecturers about studying Classics at degree level. The day will begin at 9:30am and last until 3:45pm. There will be no charge for the day and you and your pupils will be welcome to choose from a selection of hot and cold meals in our dining hall at lunch time. I will send the full timings of the day, along with the titles of the lectures, at the start of next term.

If you would like to come along then please could you send me an email with the name and address of your school together with the number of places you will require (including accompanying staff). In the event that the day is oversubscribed, places will be allocated in the order in which I receive replies. Applications should reach me by the end of January at the latest.

Yours sincerely,

Alastair Thorley
Head of Classics
Stockport Grammar School

Places available for AS/A2 lecture day

I received this via the OCR community. There are a few places left for the lecture day (programme below). Cost £12.50. Lunch provided. Staff places free. Contact gburton(at)harrodian.com. Matteo Rossetti, Head of Classics, writes: ‘The Harrodian is easily accessible by a variety of means of transport. Lonsdale Road follows the south side of the Thames between Hammersmith and Barnes Bridge.

Harrodian AS/A2 Level Lecture Day

Schedule for Friday 14th November 2008

9.30 – 10.00 am                                          Welcome coffee and tea in the theatre
10.00 – 11.00 am                                        Ways of seeing in Aeneid 4, 10 and 12
                                                                  Professor M. Leigh of St. Anne’s College, Oxford
11.00 – 11.15 am                                     Coffee and tea in the theatre
11.15 – 12.15 am                                        Rule 1: Don’t eat your guests
                                                                 The politics of hospitality in the Odyssey
                                                                 Doctor R. Cowan of Balliol College, Oxford
12.15 – 1.15 pm                                        Lunch will be served in the theatre
1.15 – 2.15 pm                                           Teenagers in Greek tragedy
                                                                 Doctor R. Wyles of NUI Maynooth
2.15 – 2.30 pm                                           Coffee and tea in the theatre
2.30 – 3.30 pm                                           Face to face with the Roman emperor
                                                                 Doctor C. Vout of Christ College, Cambridge
3.30 pm                                                   End

Recommended by OCR – but unavailable?

This message came from Maria Oikonomou of Howell’s School Llandaff, and I think many teachers are asking the same question.

Query | I am looking for ‘Staging Tragedy’, the teaching aid for Greek Tragedy in Context recommended by the OCR. Would you have a copy of it or can you give me any advice on where I might be able to locate one? Many thanks.

Is there an answer out there? Please use the Comment facility if you know it.

The Olympia Hippodrome located

Rogue Classicism has a link to this in Italian, and with the aid of Babelfish I offer an English version. I had been led to believe that the Hippodrome was washed away by a change in the river’s course, but if it has been found, that’s good.

A group of researchers from the German Institute in Athens, in collaboration with the sports historian Norbert Mueller from Magonza in eastern Germany, has announced the discovery of the largest sports area in Olympia, the ancient Greek city where the Olympic Games were held.

Using geophysics, the researchers have succeeded in identifying the position and extent of the Hippodrome.

The starting system, with stables for 24 teams of horses has in all probability been found under a mound of earth in the temple quarter. Up till now the existence of the race course was known only from written sources, but there had never been archaeological confirmation. “This archaeological discovery is sensational” Mueller said.

A longer German account is ‘translated’ here. I have not tidied up the Babelfish version, particularly towards the end!

The situation of the ancient racecourse of Olympia, on which the emperor Nero drove to an Olympic victory, is solved. The discovery of the hippodrome resulted from a research co-operation under participation Mainz of the sport historian professor Dr. Norbert Mueller, Cologne sport archaeologists Dr. Christian Wacker and PD Dr. Reinhard Senff, excavation leader of the German archaeological institute (DAI) in Olympia. “The find is an archaeological Sensation”, Mueller, Sport historian at the Johannes good mountain university Mainz, commented on the discovery. The research project ran several weeks ending in the middle of May 2008.

The hippodrome was known previously only from written sources; there was no archaeological
confirmation. This is surprising, as German excavators have been working at Olympia since 1875. The site of the ancient Olympic Games as one of its most steeped in tradition enterprises continuously investigates and countless archaeologists, old and sport historians from the whole world for over 100 years with this secret concerned themselves. The ancient travel writer Pausanias in the 2nd century A.D. describes in great detail the racecourse, the starting mechanisms, turning marks and altars. A so far little considered written source from the 11th Century includes even measurements and dimensions of the facility.

It was previously assumed that no remnants of the hippodrome could be found more, since the area, to the east of the sanctuary of Olympia by the river Alpheios, described by Pausanias, was flooded since antiquity. In modern plans and descriptions one usually reads: “No remains of the hippodrome due to medieval flooding.”

That provoked the German researchers all the more: With modern geophysical methods the area was systematically searched for the first time, whereby the experts Armin Grubert (Mainz), specialist in geo-magnetic and geo-radar measurements, and Christian Hübner (Freiburg) were able to map numerous changes in the ground, as for example watercourses, ditches and walls. Remarkably, straight-line structures of nearly 200 metres’ length were actually discovered, which the researchers connect with the racecourse lying parallel to the stadium. Structural remnants, which can be equated with a shrine of Demeter by the hippodrome, had been already uncovered to the north of the examined area in the spring of 2007.

Particularly interesting is plant with approximately 10 meters of diameters on half height of of the northern entrance to the starter system -, where Pausanias entered the hippodrome -, which appear clearly in the ancient Bodenschicht and on Sakralbauten, which the ancient writer mentions here, to be perhaps referred are. The actual starter system with boxes for up to 24 horse bottom plates might be in all probability under an enormous hill of Erdaushub of the temple district, put on by the archaeologists since 1875.

With the study of the area east sanctify around of Olympia, possible made by research means of the institute for sport science of the University of Mainz and the international rider federation, concrete referring to the situation of the racecourse and its geographical expansion could be won for the first time. Ten studying were thereby with the sport historian specialized in Olympia professor Norbert Mueller in the use. ” The DAI with its branch office in Athens erwiesen” by its co-operation of sport history a large service; , Mueller said. ” The project would know similarly the excavation of the ancient stadium of Olympia before 50 years a new attraction for the sport world werden.”

Greek Sculpture

I don’t know how legal this is, but a ten minute excerpt from Niel Spivey’s BBC documentary “How Art Made the World” is on YouTube here.