75957 - Greek and Roman Theatre

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course will teach the main features of classical literary civilisation. The student will learn the main features of classical literary civilisation, will be able to read in translation and to contextualise the main ancient literary works, esp. theatrical plays, and will hold the critical tools to interpret the literary, visual and performative European culture, as well as its reception.

Course contents

The course focuses on the main classical dramatic genres, tragedy and comedy, as well as on their persistence in modern and contemporary culture. No prerequisite knowledges (not even of classical languages and literature) are required to access the course

After a general introduction to Greek and Latin drama (origins, functions, production, performance, themes), the course will read and analyse selected plays (tragedies and comedies).

The course will deal with (minor adjustments as required might occur):

1) General Part

  1. The origins of Greek theatre; the dramatic festivals at Athens
  2. The main developments of the Greek tragedy (with the study of Aristotle, Poetics)
  3. Greek comedy from Aristophanes to Menandre
  4. Introduction to Latin theatre: origins, the palliata from Plautus to Terentius, the Seneca's tragedies.

2) Monographical section

This section of the course is focused on reading of classical dramas.

  1. Aeschylus, Agamemnon
  2. Euripides, Oedipus the King


(1) General Part

(1.1) Greek and Latin theatre: the student must study both: G. Mastromarco - P. Totaro, Storia del teatro greco, Milano: Mondadori Education, 2008 and Storia del teatro latino, a cura di G. Petrone, Roma: Carocci, 2020 (only chapters: 1. "Il teatro a roma"; 2. "Il teatro tragico nella roma repubblicana; 3. "La commedia d'argomento greco: la tradizione e il suo epilogo"; 4. "Plauto"; 7. "Terenzio"; 11. "Il teatro di Seneca"). 

(1.2) Texts of classical dramas and other teaching material will be available from the course website

(2) Monographic part

(2.1) It is required to read in full Aeschylus, Agamemnon in Orestea, trad. di E. Medda, L. Battezzato, M.P. Pattoni, Milano: Bur, 1995.

(2.2) It is required to read in full Sofocle, Edipo re, a cura di F. Condello, Siena: Barbera, 2009.

(2.3) it is also required to read at least one critical essay for each drama between those included, respectively, in Agamennone classico e contemporaneo, a cura di F. Citti, A. Iannucci e A. Ziosi, Venezia, in print and Edipo classico e contemporaneo, a cura di F. Citti e A. Iannucci, Hildesheim:Georg Olms, 2012.

Students not attending are required to prepare at least one of the following essays:

G. Avezzù, Il mito sulla scena. La tragedia ad Atene, Venezia: Marsilio, 2003; V. Di Benedetto-E. Medda, La tragedia sulla scena. La tragedia greca in quanto spettacolo teatrale, Torino: Einaudi, 2002; M. Di Marco, La tragedia greca. Forma, gioco scenico, tecniche drammatiche, Roma: Carocci, 2009; G. Ieranò, La tragedia greca: origini, storia, rinascite, Roma: Salerno, 2010; D. Lanza, La disciplina dell'emozione, Milano: Il Saggiatore, 1997; A. Rodighiero, La tragedia greca, Bologna: Il Mulino, 2013; B. Zimmermann, La commedia greca dalle origini all'età ellenistica, trad. it. Roma: Carocci, 2016.


Teaching methods

Class lectures. In addition to the critical discussion of the course themes and the reading of literary works, the course will feature screening of modern theatre plays and movies of ancient drama, as well as a series of conferences held by researchers from other universities.

Assessment methods

Oral examination of the base and critical knowledge of the course topics, related to Greek and Latin dramatic civilisation and its reception in contemporary culture. The examination will focus on:

(a) base knowledge of themes, genres, authors and performance of classical dramatic literature;

(b) knowledge of the plays discussed during the lectures, as well as of the relevant critical skills;

(c) knowledge of the main points of Latin theatre and the dramaturgical production of Plautus and Seneca

In the first part of the examination, the student will be allowed the choice of a specific topic of classical dramatic culture from which to begin (the origins of Greek or Latin theatre, production and performance, evolution of a specific genre, etc.).

In the second part, the student will be allowed to choose one of the two plays analysed, present it and discuss its critical features also on the basis of the selected essays.

The third and last part focus on latin theatre

Marking will be based on the following criteria:

  • Fail: insufficient knowledge in all 3 sections.
  • Pass: adequate knowledge in at least 2 out of 3 sections (mark between 18/30 and 23/30).
  • Merit: adequate knowledge in all 3 sections (mark between 24/30 and 27/30).
  • Distinction: excellent knowledge in all 3 sections, and evidence of remarkable skills in the critical evaluation of the course contents (mark between 28/30 and 30/30).

Teaching tools

On the course web site will be available texts of tragedies, essays and other teaching material.
The course will be supported by a educational travel to Siracusa in May, to attend the performances of Agamemnon and Oedipus the King organized by the INDA

Office hours

See the website of Alessandro Iannucci