The psychological work of ancient Greek tragedy beyond Oedipus and the individual

Image shows an artwork by artist Jane Glennie. Two clear glass jars sit on a black background. Both jars contain tightly wound, fine wire, spiralling in multiple directions and knotted on itself. The jar on the left is upside down and there is an opaque white substance covering the top of the jar from within. A strand of this spiralling wire comes out of the jar on the right, escaping from the open top

Ancient Greek tragedy has long provided potent material for psychoanalysts to use in illuminating how the human mind works and interacts with the world. Yet an ongoing preoccupation with the individual hero, and the analytic encounter between two individuals (therapist/patient) misses one crucial element that was present in every single ancient Greek drama - the chorus. In this seminar I ask how the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion’s ideas of ‘Container and Contained’ might be used to unsettle entrenched conceptions of the function of the ancient Greek chorus. In doing so we can appreciate the value in the chorus’ blurred, non-linear, paradoxical, plural view of time, place, and the world.

Dr Lucy C. Jackson is Associate Professor in Classics (Ancient Greek Literature) at Durham University. 
Her research interests include Greek drama in the classical period, particularly Greek tragedy and Greek choral performance. Her most recent monograph is The Chorus of Drama in the Fourth Century BCE , published in 2020 by Oxford University Press.
Dr Jackson comes to the ANU as the 2023 HRC-Centre for Classical Studies Visiting Fellow.


Date & time

Tue 27 Feb 2024, 10.15–11.15am


Room 1.08 Level 1, Baldessin Precinct Building


Dr Lucy C. Jackson, Durham University



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