Sophocles' Antigone: Ancient Greek Theatre, Live From Antiquity!

In this lesson from, teachers assign students the role of being reporters who have to cover the premiere of Antigone in Sophocles' Greece.  After completing research about life in Athens and the structure of the Greek theatre, students create a newspaper article highlighting the premiere of the play. This lesson combines research, writing, and performing as students travel to Sophocles' time to report on the opening of his famous play. The source contains guiding study questions and links to web resources. While it is included here as a writing assignment, this lesson could be used for research purposes or even for a performance adaptation of the play.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3001.2.4
Analyze the style and structure of a challenging speech.
CLE 3002.3.1
Write in a variety of modes for different audiences and purposes.
CLE 3002.4.2
Gather relevant information from a variety of print and electronic sources, as well as from direct observation, interviews, and surveys.
CLE 3002.8.1
Demonstrate knowledge of significant works of world literature.
CLE 3002.8.4
Analyze works of literature for what is suggested about the historical period in which they were written.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to

  • Appreciate ancient Greek drama through study of a play by Sophocles
  • Evaluate the cultural and historical context of Greek drama and its role in Greek society
  • Reconstruct the experience of seeing a Greek drama performed and share that experience in an imaginative presentation, performance, and report
Essential and guiding questions: 
  • How does Greek drama compare to our modern theater?
  • How do the themes in plays from other times and cultures relate to issues of today?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 
  • After students have concluded their performances of scenes, some classes may wish to perform scenes in modern dress and a modern setting as well. Discuss the kinds of choices they will need to make as they place the play in modern times. They need to consider costume colors, sets, furniture, props, etc. Also discuss how the design of the stage and theater influence the acting style and the audience's emotional connections to the action.
  • For English classes interested in exploring the influence of a translation on the audience's perception of the play, have students choose a key episode, then click on the online translation by Sir Richard Jebb at the Perseus Project and the Harvard Classic edition of Antigone translated by E. H. Plumptre Great Books Online (via Internet Public Library), and compare key moments in the Jebb and the Plumptre versions.
  • Teachers of Greek, Latin, or Ancient History will find the Perseus Project website a valuable resource for helping students develop reading comprehension. The site offers texts by Caesar and Cicero, Xenophon and Demosthenes, among many others, in a format that allows students quick access to hyperlinked wordtools, or a parallel translation, for interpretation of a difficult passage. In this environment, reading a classical text becomes an interactive process that reinforces student effort and reduces the frustration that is often the most formidable obstacle to learning. Have students who use the website for reading assignments report to the class about their experience.
  • Selected EDSITEment Websites
    • The Perseus Project
    • "Historical Overview"
    • Sophocles' Antigone, trans. Sir Richard Jebb (an online translation).
    • Sophocles' Antigone, trans. E. H. Plumptre (HTML at Bartleby)
    • "Introduction to the Fifth Century." Thomas R. Martin, An Overview of Classical Greek History from Mycenae to Alexander, 7-7.1 V.
    • "The Late Archaic City-State." Thomas R. Martin, An Overview of Classical Greek History from Mycenae to Alexander
    • "The Late Archaic City-State: The Beginnings of Athenian Democracy." Thomas R. Martin, An Overview of Classical Greek History from Mycenae to Alexander, 6.21 V.
    • "Paternalism and Women." Thomas R. Martin, An Overview of Classical Greek History from Mycenae to Alexander, 5.30. V.
    • "Continuity and Change in Athenian Social and Intellectual History." Thomas R. Martin, An Overview of Classical Greek History from Mycenae to Alexander, 11-11.1. V.
  • Internet Public Library
    • The Glory That Was Greece
    • "Study Guide: Sophocles' Antigone." Roger Dunkle, City University of New York
  • Internet Medieval Sourcebook
    • Introduction to Greek Stagecraft
    • Study Guide: Sophocles’ Antigone