75828 - Classical Literature and Traditions

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide a knowledge of the main literary models that Greek culture, in many cases through Roman mediation, has furnished to its modern and contemporary imitators; the students will achieve a basic knowledge of the main authors, genres and characters of the classical literature and will be able to adopt historically grounded methods in describing the most relevant phenomena of classical reception in modern and contemporary literatures.

Course contents

The course requires no prior knowledge of the ancient Greek Language (we will make use of Italian translations of the texts analyzed in class, and any references to the original texts will be introduced so as to guarantee everyone the utmost understanding). The course aims to offer a rich panoramic view of the Greek tragedy to the students who never studied ancient Greek literature, and to provide more experienced students with visions and ideas other than those normally exposed in school manuals.  

Topics of the course:

1) General introduction to the ancient Greek tragedy as a social, cultural and literary phenomenon (about 12/14 hours).

2) Reading of selected passages from ancient tragedies, with special regard to their meaning in the original social context. We will read and comment in class passages from 3 or 4 tragedies among the following (to be chosen on the basis of the prerequisites of the class): Aeschylus' Oresteia; Sophocles' Antigone, Aiax, Oedipus rex, Electra, Oedipus at Colonus; Euripides' Alcestis, Medea, Troades, Electra and Bacchae (about 30/32 hours). Special attention will be deserved to the ancient and modern stagecraft conventions. 

3) Analysis of some important moments and phenomena of classical reception in modern and contemporary works (about 14/16 hours). 

The texts analyzed in class will be available online.


The course starts on 25 September 2018, at 1.00 pm, in the classroom nr. II, via Zamboni 32, third floor.


1) For attending students, the class notes and all the documents online (texts, slides, etc.) are the basis for the final exam.

2) It is required to read at least one of the following books: G. Ieranò, La tragedia greca: origini, storia, rinascite, Roma, Salerno, 2010, o A. Rodighiero, La tragedia greca, Bologna, il Mulino, 2013. Further suggested readings: G. Avezzù, Il mito sulla scena. La tragedia ad Atene, Venezia, Marsilio, 2003; M. Di Marco, La tragedia greca. Forma, gioco scenico, tecniche drammatiche, Roma, Carocci, 2009.

3) It is required to read one of the following book: V. Di Benedetto-E. Medda, La tragedia sulla scena. La tragedia greca in quanto spettacolo teatrale, Torino, Einaudi, 2002; G. Guastella (a c. di), Le rinascite della tragedia. Origini classiche e tradizioni europee, Roma, Carocci, 2006.

4) As for the tragedies analyzed in class, the student will read one of the following books:

a) Aeschylus' Oresteia: A. Bierl, L'Orestea di Eschilo sulla scena moderna. Concezioni teoriche e realizzazioni sceniche, trad. it. Roma, Bulzoni, 2004; F. Condello, Elettra. Storia di un mito, Roma, Carocci, 2010; F. Macintosh et al. (ed. by), Agamemnon in Performance, 458 BC to AD 2004, Oxford, Oxford UP, 2005. b) Sophocles' Antigone: A.M. Belardinelli-G. Greco (a c. di), Antigone e le Antigoni: storia forme fortuna di un mito, Firenze, Le Monnier, 2010; S. Fornaro, Antigone. Storia di un mito, Roma, Carocci, 2012; S. Fornaro, L'ora di Antigone dal nazismo agli anni di piombo, Tübingen, Narr, 2012; P. Montani (a c. di), Antigone e la filosofia: Hegel, Kierkegaard, Ho:lderlin, Heidegger, Bultmann, Roma, Donzelli, 2001. c) Sophocles' Oedipus rex: G. Paduano, Edipo. Storia di un mito, Roma, Carocci, 2008; L. Edmunds, Oedipus, London-New York, Routledge, 2006; F. Citti-A. Iannucci, Edipo classico e contemporaneo, Hildesheim, Olms, 2012. d) Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus: A. Rodighiero, Una serata a Colono. Fortuna del secondo Edipo, Verona, Fiorini, 2007; A. Markantonatos, Oedipus at Colonus. Sophocles, Athens, and the World, Berlin-New York, de Gruyter, 2007. e) Euripides' Alcesti: Euripide. C.M. Wieland. R.M. Rilke. M. Yourcenar. G. Raboni. Alcesti: variazioni sul mito, a c. di M.P. Pattoni, Venezia, Marsilio, 2006; M.P. Pattoni-R. Carpani (a c. di), Sacrifici al femminile. Alcesti in scena da Euripide a Raboni, «Comunicazioni sociali» 26/3, 2004, pp. 275-577. f) Euripides' Medea: R. Uglione (a c. di), Atti delle Giornate di studio su Medea (Torino, 23-24 ottobre 1995), Torino, CELID, 1997; J.J. Clauss-S.I. Johnston (ed. by), Medea. Essays on Medea in Myth, Literature, Philosophy, and Art, Princeton, Princeton UP, 1997; B. Gentili-F. Perusino (a c. di), Medea nella letteratura e nell'arte, Venezia, Marsilio, 2000. g) Euripides' Bacchae: M. Fusillo, Il dio ibrido. Dioniso e le «Baccanti» nel Novecento, Bologna, il Mulino, 2006; A. Beltrametti (a c. di), Studi e materiali per le Baccanti di Euripide: storia, memorie, spettacoli, Como, Ibis, 2007.

For non attending students it is required to read the two books quoted at 1), the book quoted at 2) and two books from the list 4.




Teaching methods

Lectures in class; seminars and discussion of the texts analyzed in class.  

Assessment methods

A viva voce examination  of the average duration of thirty minutes. The single steps of the examination are usually: 1. development of a topic chosen by the student; 2. discussion on some themes of the course; 3. discussion on the readings chosen by the student.

For non attending student the readings are the basis for the examination.

See the web page of Federico Condello for more information about the more typical arguments discussed during the examination.

Assessment guidelines:
failing grades: lack of basic knowledge;
passing grades: literary proficiency at an intermediate level; interpretation of the texts mostly correct, but inaccurate and lacking autonomy
excellent grades: literary proficiency at an upper-mid level; interpretation of the texts not only correct, but performed with autonomy and precision

Teaching tools

Particular attention will be paid to the ways of staging of the ancient dramas; often we will make use of audio-video to complete the textual documentation.

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Federico Condello