This course explores the nature and meaning of ancient Greek and Roman tragedy. It begins by examining the social, political, and physical contexts in which tragedies were performed in classical antiquity. Students then read and discuss select plays by the three great surviving tragic dramatists of fifth-century Athens (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides) and the only surviving dramatist of Imperial Rome (Seneca). Attention is given to understanding how these plays might have been performed within the Athenian and Roman cultures in which they were produced. Throughout the course students also discuss modern critical approaches to the plays and attempt to generate their own approaches. Thus this course aims to raise a greater understanding of both ancient drama in its historical context and its imaginative and transformative potential in the modern world.