Due in class, 15 October 1998 
Write on one of the following topics.  Be as specific and as concise as you can.  Be sure to refer to the guidelines in the course syllabus when composing and preparing your essay.

The bibliography for each topic is optional, but strongly recommended if you want some sort of critical bearing.  Remember, this is not a research paper, but an opportunity for you to interpret the text.  Of course, if you do use outside scholarship, either through direct quotation or by building from an essential idea, you must reference your source appropriately. References in the Scribner Library are marked with ;  see me for the rest.

References to a play are most easily handled in the body of your essay.

            EXAMPLE:  Despite Tiresias' accusations, Oedipus denies everything (943-6).

A)  In the various Theban plays we have read (Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Seven against Thebes, Antigone), conflicts arise between individuals and the polis, the city-state.  Trace these tensions in two plays, taking full account of the following issues: Conclude your essay with a (general) discussion of how such conflicts might reflect upon Athenian society—or even that of Greece at large.


B)  The notions of curses and fate pervades both Oedipus the King and the Seven against Thebes.  Without embarking on a discussion of the actual mechanics of fate—often a circular or even futile venture—address the following issues in both plays: Conclude with some thoughts on the Greek attitude toward fate, and how it might differ from our own.


C)  Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone by Sophocles;  Seven against Thebes by Aeschylus;  the Phoenician Women by Euripides—each of these plays shares several characters with one or more of the others.

Select a recurring character from these tragedies and discuss how he or she changes from work to work, even author to author.  (Be sure to pick a character with a substantial role in each play).  In particular, you should address the following points:

Close your essay with some thoughts on Athenian tragedy as a public, constantly innovating enterprise.


Bacon, H.  (1983)  "The Shield of Eteocles" in E. Segal (1983) 24-33.
Dodds, E. R.  (1983)  "On Misunderstanding the Oedipus Rex" in E. Segal (1983) 177-88.
Knox, B. M. W. (1964)  The Heroic Temper:  Studies in Sophoclean Tragedy.  California.
Knox, B. M. W. (1979)  Word and Action:  Essays on the Ancient Theater.  Johns Hopkins.
McCall, M.  (1972)  Aeschylus:  A Collection of Critical Essays.  Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Rosenmeyer, T.  (1972)  Seven against Thebes:  The Tragedy of War" in McCall (1972) 40-62.
Segal, C.  (1983)  "Antigone:  Death and Love, Hades and Dionysus" in E. Segal (1983) 167-76.
Segal, E.  (1983)  Greek Tragedy:  Modern Essays in Criticism.  Yale.
Whitman, C.  (1983)  "Apocalypse:  Oedipus at Colonus"  in E. Segal (1983) 229-43.