This course will guide students through the earliest plays of the European tradition, reading a range of Greek and Roman tragedies in translation. Selected plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Seneca will be studied in their intellectual, historical, and performance contexts. We will consider how classical tragedy has shaped the whole tradition of Western drama, while paying particular attention to what makes classical tragedy unique, including the chorus, the integration of speech and song, and the innovative use of mythological tradition. We will also study borderline cases between tragedy and comedy, including examples of satyr drama, prosatyric tragedy, and “tragicomedy”, to explore how we define tragedy and the tragic.