Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives: Poetry-Drama-Dialogue Opening Lecture

Main Library

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If your struggles are Sisyphean and your odysseys Homeric, perhaps it is time to fully engage with Ancient Greek history and mythology. Visit The City Library for a series of events that bring the themes, characters, and events of Ancient Greece into contemporary art, film, theater, literature, and culture.


Thu, Apr 4, 7pm • Main Library, Level 4
Explore the legacy of Greek myth as it presents itself in literature and art throughout history. Your guide is Prof. James Svendsen, Associate Professor Emeritus of Classics and Theatre at the University of Utah and Artistic Director of the Classical Greek Theater Festival of Utah at Westminster College.


Devoted students of Greek myth and those looking to understand the role these long-standing tales have played on art and culture through the ages are invited to join The City Library in a 4-session reading group, focusing on some of the stories that helped shape our understanding of the world—whether we are aware of it or not. Books for the series will be provided, free of charge. Discussions will be lead by Prof. Svendsen. Participation is limited to 25 and requires pre-registration. To register, visit the Welcome Desk at the Main Library, or call 801-524-8200.

Aeschylus’ Agamemnon
Thu, Apr 11, 7pm
Main Library, Special Collections, Level 4
This Battle of the Sexes brings us Zeus, the emphasis of the divine, the Aeschylean chorus and Athenian regime values.

Sophocles’ Ajax
Thu, Apr 18, 7pm
Main Library, Special Collections, Level 4
Discover the Sophoclean prologue and learn about suicide in Ancient Greek culture, the symbol of the sword, and the influence of Ajax’s personality and struggles on today’s world view.

Euripides’ Herakles
Thu, Apr 25, 7pm
Main Library, Special Collections, Level 4
Readers will discuss the problems of Herakles’ family, particularly the role of the absent hero and warrior, madness and shame, and the gods and causation.

Homer’s Odyssey: The Return of the Hero
Thu, May 2, 7pm
Main Library, Special Collections, Level 4
After the 10-year Trojan War, it takes another 10 years for Odysseus to return home, where suitors are vying for his wife’s hand. Learn about his tests abroad and at home, dissect the narrative’s end, and learn how they all influence today’s culture.


Enjoy modern classics followed by discussions led by Prof. Svendsen.

Wolfang Petersen’s Troy
Sat, Apr 13, 2pm • Main Library Auditorium
Starring Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Rose Byrne, & Peter O’Toole “Troy depicts a tale about the whole Trojan War, but events of Homer’s classic are only a subset of that war. The film condenses the war to a period of what seems like less than a month (as opposed to years in the original tale), and moves past the ending of the poem to the well-known track involving the Trojan Horse, a natural move considering it concludes the war.” Jeffrey Chen

The Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou
Sat, Apr 20, 2pm • Main Library Auditorium
Starring George Clooney, Tim Blake Nelson, John Turturro, & Holly Hunter
“The opening credits tell us that the story is based on Homer’s Odyssey, but a more accurate statement would be that it frequently alludes to the Odyssey, gleaning only a handful of elements from Homer. The movie is also peppered with allusions to a multitude of stories and legends including The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Moby Dick, etc.” David Schaap

Michael Cacoyannis’ The Trojan Women
Sat, Apr 27, 2pm • Main Library Auditorium
Starring Katherine Hepburn, Irene Papas, Vanessa Redgrave, & Genevieve Bujold
“The Trojan War has ended. All the Trojan warriors and princes have been killed. Amidst the ruins, the conquerors must divide the only remaining spoils of war—the Trojan women and their children. The story consists of three major episodes, each centering on the fate of one of the captive women: Cassandra, Andromache, and Helen. The three are linked by the central character Hecuba (Katharine Hepburn), queen of Troy, who heroically withstands the tragic events.” (FHE, INC.)

Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives: Poetry-Drama-Dialogue is a program that has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: great ideas brought to life. ( Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives: Poetry-Drama-Dialogue reading group and film series are sponsored by Aquila Theatre, Hellenic Cultural Association, Westminster College, University of Utah Department of Language and Literature, the Hellenic Cultural Association, and OSHER Lifelong Learning Institute.

Location: Main Library

Contact Information: (801) 524-8200