Taught course

Ancient Greek Theatre

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens · National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Entry requirements

The programme concerns every single human being who is still interested in finding the roots of the current social and cultural environment we call ‘western civilization’.

Months of entry

September, February

Course content

When we refer to the ancient Greek theatre, (comedy and drama) as ‘classical’, we tend to use this term in order to denote ancient Greek theatre’s power to never stop producing reactions to the people that are watching these theatrical plays and to the people that are still feel mentally excited when they read them.

Programme Description

Aristophanes: Laughing at the face of tyrants

Lesson 1 Aristophanes and his epoch, a historical introduction
The purpose of this unit is to familiarise us with the general social, historical and intellectual context within which Aristophanes was born, wrote and played his comedies. We will underline the basic social mentality which was the main force behind the success of ancient Athens at the 5th century BC and we will underscore the importance of the so-called ‘Old Comedy’ for the smooth function of the Athenian democracy. While we will cover all the major parameters of Aristophanes’ epoch, we will not give an ‘academic lecture’. We will, on the contrary, point out what still makes Aristophanes a viable and vivid interlocutor.

Lesson 2 ‘Knights’, the very definition of political satire
The purpose of this unit is twofold: a) we will synoptically examine the text of Aristophanes’ play ‘Knights’ and we will examine its basic story-line along with its basic characters and b) we will analyse the nature and the purpose of political satire. We will firstly define the difference between comedy and satire and the further difference between satire in general and political satire. We will, afterwards, underline the main plot of the theatrical play and we will give a critical analysis of its main characters. We will conclude with some comments on the role of political satire in our current democracy.

Lesson 3 ‘Wasps’, the nature and the abuse of ancient athenian legal system
The purpose of this unit is twofold: a) we will briefly examine the justice system of Athens at Aristophanes’ times and b) we will synoptically analyse Aristophanes’ play ‘Wasps’. We will discuss the specific nature of Athens’ legal system during 5thcentury BC, mainly focussing on its aims, scope and on its functional failings. We will also discuss the reasons that make ‘Wasps’ one of the best comedies ever written in the western culture.

Lesson 4 ‘Peace’, the heart of aristophanes’ ethics
The purposes of this unit are, on the one hand, to explore Aristophanes’ Ethics as they are deployed in his play ‘Peace’ and, on the other, to synoptically analyse this theatrical play with special focus on the historical background of its performance at 421 BC at City Dionysia.

Ancient greek tragedy: having the courage to stare at the abyss of the human soul

Lesson 1 Ancient greek tragedians and the periclean democracy, a historical introduction
The purpose of this unit is to historically introduce us to the multi-dimensional inter-connections between Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and the young Athenian democracy. We will, therefore synoptically discuss the social, political, intellectual and historical linkages between the beginning of the Athenian tragedy and the beginning of the Athenian democracy. What we intend to show and underline is the indisputable affinity between the political aims of the Periclean democracy and the intellectual and cultural production of the Athenian Tragedians. We will further analyse tragedy’s possible aims with the specific intention to find possible solutions to our current existential problems.

Lesson 2 Aeschylus’ ‘The suppliants’: fighting against social oppresion. the ‘natural’ rights of women
The general purpose of this unit is to analyse the theatrical play of Aeschylus ‘The Suppliants’. We will, however, further pursue to examine how Aeschylus in this play explores the social nature of the ‘natural’ limits of the women while he underscores the social need for a democratic way of taking decisions.
Our final aim will be to understand how Aeschylus ultimately argues in favour of a collective social medium, predestined for being used as a bridge between various individual conflicts

Lesson 3 Sophocles’ ‘Antigone’: love conquers everything - unwritten law - civil disobedience
The general purpose of this unit is to closely analyse Sophocles’ tragedy ‘Antigone’. We will examine play’s plot and the main characters along with some key themes and concepts which shape Sophocles’ overall design.

Lesson 4 Euripides’ ‘The Bacchae’: the nature, the limits and the power of the irrational
The general purpose of this unit is to synoptically explore, analyse and depict with accuracy the main conceptual, social, existential and philosophical themes of the theatrical play of Euripides ‘The Bacchae’. We will examine and explain the plot and the characters of the tragedy along with their mutual active interaction. We will also pay close attention to the chorus and its role to the, (relative with this tragedy), Euripidean aims.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Qualification and course duration


distance learning
2 months

Course contact details

Admissions Office