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Tragedy and Catharsis

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Topics for Response Papers

Remember, be selective. Don't try to answer the entire question, but choose one or two key scenes or characters or images to formulate your answer. And back up what you say with specific citations or quotations.

Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis

1. How would you define effective leadership? Is Agamemnon an effective leader? Is he any better than the barbarians he hopes to defeat?

2. Does Iphigenia have a choice whether to die? Was her choice to die a voluntary act of sacrifice, an act of heroism, or a delusion?

3. How are the twin themes of marriage and death carried out in Euripides' play? Why does the playwright highlight these similarities?

4. Re-read the choral passages and explore how the chorus of parthenoi (young unmarried women) from Chalcis comment on the action in the previous scene. How would the mythological references resonate for an Athenian audience?

Michael Cacoyannis' Iphigenia

1. The first 20-30 minutes of Cacoyannis' film has little dialogue, but strong visuals. How does this opening set up the themes and characters of the rest of the film?

2. What does Cacoyannis do to retain the words, images, themes of the chorus in Euripides' play in his 1977 film?

2. How does Cacoyannis give the Old Man a larger role in his version of Iphigenia? Why?

3. How does the physical presence of the army in Cacoyannis' film change the dynamics in each work? What role does the army play in Euripides? in Cacoyannis?

4. How does Cacoyannis increase the inevitability of Iphigenia's death in his film?

5. How does the film respond to the colonels' rule from 1967-74 and the politics of modern Greece?

Lady Lumley's Translation of Iphigenia

1. What does Lumley change or omit in her translation? Why do you think she leaves these out? Due to her audience, her knowledge of Greek, the themes she wishes to stress, or some other reason?

2. Compare the mother-daughter relationship in all three works? In which work is it strongest? Why?

2. What role does the chorus play in Lumley's work? Why does she change it from Euripides and Cacoyannis?

4. Themes in 16th century drama include romance and the focus on marriage and mutual desire. In what passages is this more pronounced than in Euripides or Cacoyannis?

5. Lumley dedicates this translation to her father, Henry Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, Lord Chamberlain to Henry VIII and Edward VI, and Lord Steward to Queen Mary. In what places does her translation pay attention to his interests and political role?

 

Hippolytus Response topics

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