July 5, 2022

Greek Tragedies will Come Alive at Chester Library

With so many new books being published every day, why would anyone want to read books written in Greece almost 2500 years ago?

Just ask Charlotte Rea, who will be leading a series of three evening discussions on three Greek tragedies in April at the Chester Public Library. Rea, the former Head of School at the Williams School in New London, has an academic background in English and theater, including Greek drama.

“They are a good read,” she says firmly. “They are great stories that capture human purpose, drive, action, guilt and knowledge at its most elemental, intense, and ennobling.”

Rea draws a parallel between life in Greece 2500 years ago and our American society today. “The tragedies were written during a time of Athenian prosperity and stability, during the best periods of a working democracy (as they defined it – adult free males only).  In the background, though, was the memory of recent wars and the mounting tensions with neighboring city-states, such as Sparta. Prosperity and stability in a time of tension, doubt, worry and cultural divides – sound familiar?”

The three plays, by Sophocles and Euripedes, are “Oedipus Rex,” “Antigone,” and “The Trojan Women.” In “Oedipus,” the Greeks asked how we find the truth and what choices do we make in our journey to see and to understand. “Antigone” raises the question of the individual’s right to act on a personal belief system when respect for civic stability requires cooperation. “The Trojan Women” makes clear the timeless, seemingly inevitable consequences of war for the survivors. The discussions will begin Wednesday, April 11, with “Oedipus Rex”; move on to “Antigone” on April 18; and end on April 25, with “The Trojan Women.”

“The plays have lasted as ‘classics’ for almost 2500 years – why?” Rea asks. “What do they teach us about the human condition and quest for meaning? In a period of quick changes and rapid alterations in communication, landscape, and attitudes, which human values have endured through the centuries? Which have not?”

Rea notes that the plays are easy to read and short, requiring an hour or so to read (though the former schoolteacher admits to encouraging a second reading).

Registration is required for these programs, which are brought to you by the Friends of Chester Public Library. Call the library at 860-526-0018, or visit the library website at www.chesterct.org/library.php to register. All discussions will be at Chester Public Library from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Books will be available for loan at Chester Library. Those interested in ebooks may want to check out the texts available through Project Gutenberg.