203: Debate #3

Ancient Greece: The Politics of Sophocles' Plays

A play would be performed in Athens only if the Assembly approved funding for the production. Imagine you are participating in a debate over whether or not to sponsor two plays by Sophocles in the middle of the Peloponnesian War.

Resolution: In the year 425 BC, Athens should sponsor production of the plays Antigone and Oedipus Rex.

The Affirmative team will argue in favor of sponsoring production of the play. The Negative team will argue against sponsorship. Consider the political and moral messages of the plays and the impact they would be likely to have on the morale of democratic Athens during its war with authoritarian Sparta in 425. Review Hellas, especially pp. 132-142 .

You will need to think about the content of the plays, what Sophocles had in mind when he wrote them (Antigone was written in about 441 BC and Oedipus Rex in about 430 BC), and the historical context of 425 (do a little research). What was going on at that point in time that might have made these plays dangerous, or inspiring? Would they encourage patriotism and devotion to Athens during wartime or rebellion? Would the influence the assembly to act with greater prudence or might thy sap the city's will to fight on?

The same three teams will take up the question with each team playing the role it has not yet played.

For information on debate format and judges' paper assignment, please go back to debate #1.