Topics for Further Study

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Research the agriculture and economy of Greece in the 5th century B.C. What products did the Greeks export? Which did they import? How was trade within the country, and outside the country, managed? How was the worship of Dionysus conducted to coincide with important phases of agriculture throughout the year?

When writing his plays, Euripides seems to have concentrated his efforts mainly on characters and themes and often appears to have ignored important elements of plot. Sophocles, on the other hand, has been called the greatest constructor of plots in the ancient world, and Aristotle called his Oedipus the King the finest example of Greek drama. Research Oedipus the King and compare it to The Bacchae. Consider the similarities and differences between each play’s plots, characters, and themes.

By the end of the 5th century B.C., Greek theatres had developed a distinct shape and very particular elements of scenery, costuming, and special effects that affected the way plays such as The Bacchae were produced. Research the physical properties of Greek theatres in the age of Euripides, then choose a scene from The Bacchae and describe how it might have been staged. As a group project, you may wish to actually recreate the scene you have chosen.

In his time, Euripides was widely known as skeptic, someone who questioned authority and doubted traditional beliefs. His ideas were influenced by, among others, the Sophist philosophers, who believed that truth and morality were relative to the individual and largely matters of opinion. Who were some of the Sophists? What were their beliefs? How did they influence Western culture?

In his Poetics, Aristotle suggests that the ideal tragic protagonist is someone who is highly renowned and prosperous, basically good, and suffers a downfall not through vice or depravity but by some error or frailty—a ‘‘tragic flaw’’ as it has often been called. Does

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