The Oresteia:

1. What inspires Clytemnestra's hatred of her husband?

2. Why does Aeschylus present her side of the issue?

3. The chorus in Agamemnon is made up of older men. What do we learn from these men?

4. What do you think of Clytemnestra? How would you describe her? Is she different in the second play "The Libation Bearers" than in "Agamemnon"? Explain.

How does Clytemnestra figuratively undergo a change of gender in this play?

5. Compare Aeschylus's treatment of the conflict between Agamemnon and his wife with Homer's account in the Odyssey (Bks I and II). What does Aeschylus add to the story? Why?

6. Evaluate the moral of Orestes' acquittal: How is his crime viewed by Aeschylus? Evaluate his crime from a modern point of view.

7. Apply Hegel's dialectic to the structure of the Oresteia.

8. Analyze the scene in which Agamemnon enters the palace on the red tapestries. What issues are involved here? What symbolism is introduced?

9. Orestes' killing of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra is presented as parallel to his mother's killing of Agamemnon and Cassandra. Are there any differences in the circumstances and the motives for the two killings?

10. Examine closely the Pythia's speech which forms the prologue of the Eumenides. How does the account of the succession of the gods and the progress of civilization parallel the treatment of the same subjects in the trilogy as a whole?

11. When Orestes returns to Argos, he brings a friend, Pylades, with him. Pylades is silent throughout until he speaks three lines to Orestes the moment before matricide. What is his purpose within the drama? Who does he represent?

12. In Greek Tragedy, how are we to understand the relationship between Apollo and Dionysus?

13. Explain the symbolic meaning of Athena's birth. Why is such a birth important to "The Eumenides," the third play in Aechylus's trilogy the Oresteia.

14. Describe the love and hate relations between Agamemnon, his wife, Clytemnestra and their children--Iphigenia, Electra, and Orestes.

15. Aeschylus's Oresteia redefines justice. Explain. Include a discussion of the role of the furies, Apollo, and Athena.

16. What does Aeschylus suggest is the role of women in society.

17. The conclusion of the Oresteia seems to advance the proposition that a just society should acknowledge the claims of both the "female" qualities of irrationality, fertility, and family ties and the "male" qualities of reason, order, and objectivity, but that the male should be in control. Do you agree with these identifications of female and male and with the conclusion drawn?

Oedipus the King:

1. Does Sophocles intend us to think of Oedipus as a good man? Give evidence from the text. Explain why this question is important.

2. "Something more" must be acknowledged beyond the conclusion that Oedipus fulfills the destiny decree of Apollo. What "something more" is Sophocles suggesting about life that perhaps connects us all to Oedipus as archetype?

3. A hero might be defined not just as a good person but as a person who embodies the value system of the entire culture. Could Oedipus be described as a hero. Explain.

4. How does the sphinx figure in the play, and how does her riddle echo throughout?

5. In the prologue of Antigone, Ismene tells Antigone that she is "rash" and implores her "Remember we are women/we're not born to content with men." What makes Antigone different?

6. Compare the Creon in Oedipus the King to the Creon in Antigone. How has Creon in a sense taken Oedipus' place?

7. Has Antigone inherited any traits from her father?

8. Are Antigone and Creon equally right and wrong? Or does Sophocles favor one over the other?

9. Aeschylus' Oresteia may be read as a rather optimistic and patriotic celebration of Athens' achievements of a union of nature and reason. In this respect, does Oedipus the King constitute (in any way) a reply to the Oresteia?

Euripides's Medea

1. In Medea, Euripides initially details the hardships of women by offering us Medea's persuasive narrative; she is a woman in a dire position in marriage, a common suffrage Medea says she shares with all Athenian women. What is the initial response of the Chorus and the audience ( and the reader), to Medea's situation?

2. How is Jason Characterized?

3. Medea's killing of her children can be juxtaposed to the attempted killing of the infant Oedipus by his father and mother and the sacrifice of Iphigeneia by Agamemnon in the Oresteia. Consider these three examples of kindermord in Greek drama. Discuss the way or ways you reacted to the different portrayals of "the death of children" as a literary motif in the three plays.

4. Why does Euripides have Medea kill her children?

5. Compare Medea and Clytemnestra as heroines. What strengths do they have in common? How do they feel about the conventional role of women? What do their different fates reveal about the two plays?

6. Analyze Medea's character as an amalgam of the salient qualities found in the hero Homeric poetry--Odysseus.