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