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Roman Tragedy IV: Seneca’s Oedipus, or Another Odd Complex

Beth tries really hard not to sing that excellent Tom Lehrer song as she once again talks about that boy who loved his mother.

Discussion Prompts
  1. How would you describe Oedipus’s character in this telling?
  2. Which version of the plot do you prefer? Sophocles or Seneca? Why?
  3. What does Seneca have to say about fate?
  4. Do you find the characters in this play to be “stock characters” or are they more well-rounded than that? Why?
  5. Retell this version of the myth from Jocasta’s point of view.

Greek Myth XXXIX: Pseudo-Apollodorus’s Bibliotheca Book II, Chapter V – Twelve Labors of Heracles, or There Should Have Been Ten

Heracles makes himself famous in today’s episode.

Who says Heracles has to be tall? Or human?
Discussion Prompts
  1. Discuss how Hera fits into this story.
  2. Which is your favorite labor? Why?
  3. Pick one of the shorter labors and retell it.
  4. Is Heracles a serial killer? Why or why not?
  5. Why does Hera stir up trouble amongst the Amazons?
  6. Retell this chapter from the perspective of Eurystheus.

Roman Epics XIV: Virgil’s Aeneid Book 5, or the Trojan Cup

You get a funeral game! And you get a funeral game! And you get a funeral game!

Discussion Prompts
  1. Retell this book from the perspective of the women.
  2. Which funeral game is your favorite? Why?
  3. What purpose do the consolation prizes serve?
  4. Discuss the role of fate as we see it in this book.
  5. Why is Neptune’s price the death of Palinurus?

Roman Tragedy III: Seneca’s Phaedra, or Passions

Passions overwhelm Phaedra in Seneca’s version of her story.

Discussion Prompts
  1. How old do you think the characters are? Why? How, if at all, might this change how we view Phaedra’s feelings towards Hippolytus?
  2. Do you think this play was meant to be performed? Why or why not?
  3. Directing questions: How would you stage this? Vision, dream cast, etc.?
  4. Who, if anyone, is the best stoic in this play? Why?
  5. Why do you think Phaedra kills herself on stage?

Greek Myth XXXVIII: Pseudo-Apollodorus’s Bibliotheca Book II, Chapter IV – Perseus, Sons of Perseus, Amphitryon, Birth of Heracles, or But Wait, There’s More!

Perseus has some adventures and more than a few descendants in today’s episode.

Discussion Prompts
  1. Which of the relationships in this chapter do you find to be the most (or least) problematic? Why?
  2. Why do you think Amphitryon kills Comaetho?
  3. Heracles real name is Alcides. Why do you think the Delphic priestess calls him Heracles – “having the glory of Hera”?
  4. Retell the story of Perseus from the perspective of Andromeda. Or Medusa. Or the other Gorgons.
  5. Do you think Megara was happy being married to Heracles? Why or why not?

Roman Epics XIII: Virgil’s Aeneid Book 4, or It’s Not Pretty When Euripides is Your Model

I hope you’re not too attached to Dido.

Discussion Prompts
  1. Is Dido really in love with Aeneas?
  2. How good of a counselor is Anna? Also, is Dido in middle school?
  3. Are Dido and Aeneas married? Why or why not?
  4. How might this story be different if the gods stayed out of it?
  5. Can Aeneas make different choices? Or is he bound by Fate to always do as the gods ask?
  6. Another way of asking the last question: If Aeneas weren’t so pious, would his choices be the same?
  7. What does this book have to say about free will?

Roman Tragedy II: Seneca’s Agamemnon, or He’ll Enter Eventually

We finally get around to covering Seneca’s Agamemnon in today’s episode.

Discussion Prompts
  1. I know I’ve asked this before, but how old is Orestes?!?
  2. What is the purpose of Pylades entering with Stropius?
  3. Do you think this work was written for performance? Why or why not?
  4. The usual directing questions: Vision? Setting? Dream cast?
  5. Compare/contrast Cassandra and Clytemnestra. Or Cassandra and Electra.

Greek Myth XXXVII: Pseudo-Apollodorus’s Bibliotheca Book II, Chapter III – Bellerophon, or I Thought This Story Would Be Longer

Bellerophon doesn’t have a bunch of adventures in today’s episode.

Discussion Prompts
  1. Retell the story from Stheneboea’s point of view.
  2. How many trials must a hero survive before a hero no longer is sent to certain death?
  3. Why do you think the author glosses over all of Bellerophon’s adventures?
  4. What other stories does this chapter remind you of? What do they have to say about human nature?
  5. Why do you think Stheneboea turns on Bellerophon?
  6. Retell this story from Philonoe’s point of view.

Roman Epics XII: Virgil’s Aeneid Book 3, or Wait, Haven’t I Heard This Story Before?

This journey sounds vaguely familiar…

Discussion Prompts
  1. How might this story be different if the Trojans had listened to Cassandra?
  2. Discuss the role trauma plays in this story.
  3. How would you go about writing an epic about the Trojan War and its aftermath?
  4. Compare/contrast Andromache’s story as told by Virgil and as told by Euripides.
  5. Compare/contrast Polydorus’s story as told by Virgil and as told by Euripides.
  6. Compare/contrast Book 9 of The Odyssey with this book.

Roman Tragedy I: Meet Seneca the Younger, Not to Be Confused with Seneca the Elder

Stoicism meets tragedy.

Discussion Prompts
  1. Why does it make sense for a stoic philosopher to write tragedy?
  2. What play or plays are you most looking forward to?
  3. How do you think Seneca’s philosophy will impact how he tells myths that we’ve covered before?