Greek Tragedy

Write an MLA-formatted paper of 1250-1500 words, as explained below. Rely on the primary sources (Sophocles and Aristotle), and cite all sources using MLA style.

General instructions

Analyze Sophocles’ The Women of Trachis (The Trachiniae) using the play itself plus Aristotle’s criteria for tragedy, as discussed in Aristotle’s Poetics. An excerpt from the Poetics is in our textbook. The full text of the Poetics and The Women of Trachis are available online by accessing the links below.

For Sophocles’ play, you must use the online version specified here. The link is as follows:

For Aristotle’s Poetics, you may use the excerpt in Fiero. If you need additional information, you may use the online, full-text version. Use one version or the other, not both. The link to the full, online version is:

In addition to or in place of Aristotle, you may use Bernard Knox’s The Heroic Temper, in which Knox discusses Sophoclean tragedy and “the Sophoclean hero.”  I have placed this book on reserve in the campus library.

Thesis statement

Is the play a typical tragedy according to Aristotle’s criteria as discussed in the Poetics?  (If so, how? If not, how is it different?)

Your opening paragraphs should link your two main sources, Sophocles and Aristotle (or Sophocles and Knox).

Voice and tone

Even though your thesis reflects your education opinion, or position, on the subject, this is a formal position paper and you must write it in the third person. Do not use “I,” “we,” or “you.” Also, since this is a formal paper, you may not use contractions.

Supporting your thesis

Use evidence from the primary texts (The Women of Trachis and Poetics), rather than from secondary sources (Fiero or others), to support your thesis statement. (The only other source you may rely on is Knox.)


Including actual dialogue from play to support your argument is critical and required. Doing this will strengthen your argument. Use quotes thoughtfully and be sure to introduce them (using signal phrases) and integrate, or embed, them. The quote itself is not your point; rather, you are using quotes to support the points you are making.

Use MLA style for your in-text citations and Works Cited list.

Do not summarize the play

That is not the assignment. If you do this, I will lose points.  Assume that the reader has read the play.

Do not submit a paper that is fewer than 1250 words

Note your word count after the last paragraph of the paper. Your word count does not include the Works Cited list or heading.

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