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Greek Theatre

5. The Frogs

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about Aristophanes’ Frogs, focusing in particular on: (i) the play’s fixation on exactly the same questions that were explored in the Bacchae – what does the city need? – and in Oedipus the King – who are you?; (ii) the swapping of clothes in both this play and the Bacchae, and the idea that changing your clothes actually changes your identity; (iii) tragedy as a subject of comedy; (iv) the ways in which both tragedy and comedy represent the city as ‘other’; (v) the interest of both tragedy and comedy in the disruption of language; (vi) the juxtaposition of the pre-play ceremonies that express the power and authority of the state, and the content of the plays themselves; and (vii) the potential impact of adding a touch of tragedy and/or comedy to modern state occasions.


In this course, Professor Simon Goldhill (University of Cambridge) explores several aspects of Greek tragedy and comedy, focusing in particular on Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, Euripides’ Bacchae, and Aristophanes’ Frogs. The first module provides an introduction to Greek tragedy and comedy, focusing in particular on the particular time and place in which these plays were written and performed ¬– fifth-century Athens. In the second module, we think about the rituals and ceremonies that preceded the performance of the dramatic works themselves – and why they are important in how we think about tragedy and comedy. Each of the three modules after that focuses on a single play –Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, Euripides’ Bacchae, and Aristophanes’ Frogs – and we think about some of the play’s key issues and preoccupations. The sixth module provides some concluding thoughts on the genre as a whole.


Simon Goldhill is Professor of Greek Literature and Culture and a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. His research interests include Greek Tragedy, Greek Culture, Literary Theory, Later Greek Literature, and Reception. His many publications include Reading Greek Tragedy (1986), Love Sex and Tragedy (2004), Victorian Culture and Classical Antiquity (2011), and Sophocles and the Language of Tragedy (2012), the last of which won the 2013 Runciman Award for the best book on a Greek topic, ancient or modern.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Goldhill, S. (2020, September 03). Greek Theatre - The Frogs [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Goldhill, S. "Greek Theatre – The Frogs." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 03 Sep 2020,