Natalie Haynes visits the Classics Centre

Tags: Greek tragedy, author talk, Natalie Haynes

On Tuesday 14th March, we were very fortunate to have a visit from author and broadcaster Natalie Haynes. Natalie came to deliver a highly entertaining and informative talk about two of Sophocles' plays, Oedipus the King and Antigone, which she has used in her new novel, Children of Jocasta, which tells the well-known Theban legends from the perspectives of Jocasta and Ismene.

Natalie spoke about the story of Oedipus, and how the Greek philosopher Aristotle considered it to be the best example of a tragic play. She talked about why Aristotle felt it to be a perfect play - the importance of plot, character, dialogue, music and other aspects. She raised the use of irony, and the ways in which traits inherent in the character of Oedipus precipitated his own fate, and the unraveling of the facts. 

She also spoke about the characters of Ismene and Antigone, and how few lines Ismene had (sixty in the whole of Antigone), and the role she fulfilled within the plot. Natalie talked about later interpretations, such as Jean Anouilh's adaptation, where he makes Ismene the older sister and Antigone the younger, and the effect this has on how we perceive their characters. 

The talk explored the concepts of "phusis" (natural law) and "nomos" (man-made law), and how ancient and modern societies might approach these, and how these approaches and attitudes inform our reaction to the characters and behaviour of Creon and Antigone. 

It finished with a reading from Children of Jocasta, followed by a booksigning. It was enjoyed enormously by all who attended, and we are very grateful to Natalie for her time and energy!