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Greek Theatre: Music and Song

4. Melody and Euripides' 'New Music'

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the melodies of Greek tragic drama, focusing on particular on how we know anything at all about what the music actually sounded like, and how it was used to create particular emotional effects. At the end of the module, we think about what the innovations in the music of tragedy ascribed to Euripides might have actually sounded like, and how Euripides’ melodies may have differed from those of earlier tragic playwrights.


In this course, Dr Armand D’Angour (University of Oxford) explores the use of music in ancient tragedy, thinking in particular about the kinds of musical instruments that were used, the metre, rhythm, and melodies of tragic poetry. The course ends by looking in more detail at Euripides’ Medea, showing how and understanding of metre can enhance our reading of the play.


Armand D’Angour is a Professor of Classics at the University of Oxford, having pursued careers as a cellist and businessman before becoming a Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Jesus College in 2000. He has published articles and chapters on the music, literature, and culture of ancient Greece and Rome, and regularly presents his research in the UK and abroad. He was commissioned to write Odes in ancient Greek for both the Athens Olympics in 2004 and the London Olympics in 2012. In 2013-2015 he won a British Academy Fellowship to conduct research into reconstructing the sounds of ancient Greek music, which led to a project that won him a Vice-Chancellor's Prize for Public Engagement with Research at Oxford and a widely-viewed video of a concert at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford 'Rediscovering Ancient Greek Music (2017)'.

Professor D'Angour's recent books include Music, Text, and Culture in Ancient Greece (2018, co-edited with Tom Phillips), and an investigative biography of the philosopher Socrates, concentrating on his early life and links with the renowned woman intellectual Aspasia of Miletus (Socrates in Love: The Making of a Philosopher, 2019).

How to Innovate: an Ancient Guide to Creative Thinking was published by Princeton in 2021; he is currently working on a book for the same series entitled How to talk about Love: an Ancient Guide to Eros, and at the same time he is investigating (for a future book) how the singing of Homer's epics can throw light on the vexed Homeric Question.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

D'Angour, A. (2018, August 15). Greek Theatre: Music and Song - Melody and Euripides' 'New Music' [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

D'Angour, A. "Greek Theatre: Music and Song – Melody and Euripides' 'New Music'." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,