Love is a powerful and often destructive force in this week’s readings. Sappho experiences love as a “torment.” Clytemnestra and Medea feel betrayed by their loved ones and end up killing family members. All of these characters suffer because of their loves, seeming to confirm Martha Nussbaum’s reading of tragedy as inevitable for people who open themselves up to love.
This journal assignment explores the universal theme of love (and the emotions of those wronged in love). Using your imagination, write a letter to one of the three ancient Greek poets we read this week: the tragic poets, Aeschylus and Euripides or the lyric poet, Sappho. In your letter, correspond with the poets about their attitudes on love. Be sure to cite specific lines from the poem to focus your comments. (See the Week One Resources tab for more information on how to cite sources in this class.) You might suggest ways that the tragedians could have averted the tragic outcomes that resulted from love gone wrong by changing one of the characters’ behavior. Or, you might converse with Sappho about her expressions to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. You may also bring in your own experiences with love, but remember to keep a balance in the discussion of the literature and the relevant personal experience.