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Ancient Greek Tragedy: The First Family

Register for this Spring 2024 course on the new NYU SPS Academy of Lifelong Learning website.
In this course, we will follow the legend of the First Family of Greek literature: the House of Atreus. The curse laid on Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus led not only to the Trojan War but, in the literary realm, to some of the finest tragedies composed by  Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. After exploring the history of the curse, we will trace the fortunes of this family chronologically through six tragedies. Beginning with Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis, in which Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter to jumpstart the war against Troy, we will proceed to Aeschylus' magisterial trilogy, the Oresteia, encompassing the murder of Agamemnon, the revenge of his children Electra and Orestes, and the god-sanctioned foundation of Athenian democracy. We will then explore how Sophocles treated the revenge story in his own Electra. Finally, we will share Euripides' tragedy Orestes, a strange and  subversive take on the First Family cycle. Together we will attempt to answer the questions: Why does this legend make for compelling drama? And what do these tales of  war, revenge, and the foundation of a great city teach us today?  Spring 2024 tuition is $649.

More details

You'll Walk Away with

  • A familiarity with the finest Greek tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides
  • An understanding of the importance of the First Family story in world literature

Ideal for

  • Those interested in the study of the classics
  • All members of the community—working, retired, and in between
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.