In this lecture, Josh Beer will defend the thesis that Sophocles’ Antigone is the most influential play of all time. As the African playwright John Kani once stated, “Antigone addresses itself to any corner of the world where the human spirit is being oppressed”. Since first performed in Athens c.440 BCE, there may have been as many as a 1,000 translations and adaptations. With the exception of Antarctica, versions of it have been performed on every continent.

While outlining the story of the tragedy’s influence from Sophocles to two recent versions in 2019 (one a film by Sophie Deraspe, set in Montreal, and the other from the theatre by Jeff Ho, a Hong Kong playwright based in Toronto), this talk will concentrate primarily on performance versions, be they dramatic, operatic, balletic or cinematic. Famous names from G.W.F. Hegel, Virginia Woolf, George Eliot, Felix Mendelssohn, Pablo Picasso, Coco Chanel, and Rudolf Nureyev to Nelson Mandela will form part of the story.

About the Speaker:

Josh Beer taught Greek and Roman Studies at Carleton for 50 years. He tried to make his lectures a form of theatre in order to elicit an emotional response, as a conduit to a deeper intellectual engagement. The theatre space (i.e., the classroom) served as a crucible for shaping a symbiotic relationship between students and instructor.

Whether teaching Latin and Greek languages or their civilizations, Josh always tried to show how the Greeks and Romans provide useful counter-models for examining and understanding many modern cultural assumptions (linguistic, religious, political, sexual, etc.). For 12 years, Josh directed students in annual, highly praised, dramatic presentations of Greek tragedy. His book, Sophocles and the Tragedy of Athenian Democracy, was published in 2004.

When: April 29, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.

Registration: or contact Gail Larose at for Zoom link details.

Members of the Carleton community and general public are welcome to attend.

Media Contact
Steven Reid
Media Relations Officer
Carleton University

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