Mythology in Classical Greek Tragedy

Ref: C3847037

Of the Greeks and their drama Edith Hall observes that 'It is worth thinking about why their tragedies matter in the first place. Greek tragedy only matters if you believe that tragedy, more widely defined, has itself played a significant role in your own culture.' On this course we will explore the enduring appeal of the myths and stories alluded to here and relayed through Greek tragedy to understand why these plays have persisted for so long and what keeps us coming back for more. We will also think about how, where and why myth emerged, who the mortals, gods and other beings ensnared in these stories are, how they relate, as well as some contemporary responses. We will read works by all the major tragedians, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, and also spend time looking at the structure and performance of Greek tragedy. More widely we will interrogate myth itself: What is myth? Is myth the same as folklore, fairytale, legend? Is there a difference between myth and history?

Course aim

Through classical and modern sources this course will examine some of the renowned mythic stories and characters, mortal, divine and supernatural, related within the surviving body of Greek tragedy in order to strengthen our grasp on the subject.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Show an improved knowledge of an essential range of Classical myths through source, story and character, notably in Greek Tragedy
  • Identify where myth comes from, what it is, how it functions and transfers to a variety of historical, social and cultural contexts
  • Explain how myths are presented and narrated in an array of dramatic and other sources or forms, both ancient and modern
  • Interpret the reception of Classical myth, its narratives and characters, through important theoretical approaches and modern scholarship within the subject
  • Demonstrate some independence in learning through analysis and research using skills built and developed here

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

This course will be taught online using a combination of Zoom and the WEA's online digital learning platform Canvas, both of which you will need to be able to access through the internet and email. A selection of learning resources will be provided, including reading and materials for each session.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Mythology in Classical Greek Tragedy

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This course is only available as part of this programme.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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