Consider the enduring hits of the Greek stage: Antigone, The Trojan Women, Medea,
Lysistrata, Electra, and even Hyppolytus.
Given the dearth of other strong female protagonists before Shakespeare, it’s
not surprising that Antigone, Hecuba and Lysistrata loom so large. These
heroines came from the flowering of Athenian democracy, but that era was also
one of the low points for the status and voice of women. The battle of the
sexes that raged on the stage had in fact been settled in public life, with
free women left veiled and sequestered. There is a mystery here: How did male
playwrights, actors and audiences at an extreme moment of gender inequality somehow
create female voices that rang and still ring powerfully true?
Rick Griffiths teaches in the departments of
Classics and of Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies at Amherst College, where
he has taught since 1972. He has written
on Greek and Roman poetry, as well as on African American and (with a
colleague) Russian novels.
Limited seats available, walk-ins are not guaranteed admission.