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Greek drama in the community

Greek Drama in the Community is a project led by Dr Jon Hesk that aims to bring the excitement and vitality of ancient Greek drama to a wider audience. The project contains a number of elements, including materials and support for schools, and a new collaboration with a local drama group, the Byre Youth Theatre, that explores ways in which ancient drama and theatrical techniques can serve as a creative stimulus for modern performance. You can read more about the collaboration with the Byre Youth Theatre on Dr Hesk’s blog:

Greek drama in schools

Professor Stephen Halliwell and Dr Jon Hesk have published widely on Aristophanic Comedy, the relationship between Old Comedy and its contexts, and on Greek Tragedy and ancient theories of tragedy (especially Aristotle and Plato). Jon Hesk is currently working on the problems and pathologies of decision-making in the Greek city. They have both given many talks on these topics to teachers and school pupils in Fife and elsewhere.

Drawing on his experience talking to teachers and their pupils, Jon Hesk has begun to develop a series of online resources and worksheets. These are intended to help teachers by making the results of recent research on Greek drama accessible in a digested format geared to recent school syllabuses, so that teachers can benefit from on-going academic re-evaluations of key texts and themes.

Worksheets have been developed around the following Higher, Advanced Higher, AS- and A-level syllabus elements because they ask questions which are directly addressed by recent scholarly research: 

  • SQA Classical Studies Advanced Higher: ‘Comedy, Satire and Society';
  • SQA Classical Studies Higher: ‘Social Aspects of the Classical World: Classical Drama’;
  • AQA Classical Civilization AS Level: ‘Aristophanes and Athens’;
  • AQA Classical Civilization A2 Level: ‘Greek Tragedy’;
  • Cambridge International Classical Civilization AS and A Level: ‘Aristophanes’ and ‘Drama: the idea of tragedy’;
  • OCR AS and A Level: ‘Greek Tragedy in its Context’ and ‘Comic drama in the ancient world’.
  • Many AS/A level Greek language and literature syllabuses also have elements relevant to this project.

Jon is aware that syllabuses change regularly and that many of them, particularly in Scotland, have recently undergone radical revision, but he hopes that the questions the briefing sheets tackle will be relevant even under the new specifications, and intends to update the briefings as soon as he can.

A longer-term goal of this project will be to engage with examination boards concerning the value and drawbacks of using recent research to inform their choice of set texts and the shape of their Greek drama syllabuses. 

Aristophanes and Athens

A series of twelve planned documents intended to help teachers incorporate recent research on Aristophanes into their teaching. They are not intended as ready-to-use lesson-plans but as briefing documents to help teachers develop their own lessons. They summarise key debates in recent scholarship on topics that have featured in recent Higher, Advanced Higher, AS- and A-level syllabuses and assessment. Sheets 1, 4, 5 and 11 are currently available.


Greek Tragedy

Jon is also planning a series of documents on Greek tragedy. The first of these is available below.

If you have any comments on the documents or suggestions for future topics, please send them to

Politics and gender conflict in Greek drama

Dr Jon Hesk

In this recording of a lecture, Jon Hesk discusses Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, Euripides’ Medea and Sophocles’ Antigone.  He shows how these plays’  representations of their female protagonists provided Athenian men with important food for thought concerning their own roles and responsibilities within the city and the household.  In the case of Aristophanes, however, we have to distinguish between some of Lysistrata’s more serious remarks and the tenor of the play as a whole.

Accompanying materials: 


Morality, Politics and Religion in Euripidean Tragedy

Jon Hesk

In this lecture Jon Hesk argues that Euripides’ plays are not, as is sometimes thought, radical critiques of religious practice and belief.  Rather, they stage the difficulty of moral, social and political decision-making in a world where external forces are ineluctable (and yet often hard to detect), stakes are high (and yet not always easily perceived as such), and humans have the capacity to reason between courses of action (and yet find themselves in dilemmas fuelled by emotion and conflicting moral imperatives).   At the end of the lecture, the audience asked Jon lots of excellent questions and you are likely to learn as much from that discussion as from the lecture itself!

Additional Materials



Orestes and Electra at tomb

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