71 pages 2 hours read



Fiction | Play | Adult | BCE

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Reading Context

Use these questions or activities to help gauge students’ familiarity with and spark their interest in the context of the work, giving them an entry point into the text itself.

Short Answer

1. Many ancient cultures put great importance on funerary and burial rites. What are some of the ancient civilizations you are familiar with? How did they treat funerary and burial rites for their citizens and rulers? Why do you think that the afterlife was held in such a high regard?

Teaching Suggestion: This question invites students to consider the context of the story, which, depending on the group, they may not initially understand. As ancient cultures (e.g., Sumerians/Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Indus Valley civilizations, Greeks, etc.) placed a significant degree of importance on their funerary and burial rites, it would make sense that a play written in ancient Greece would have an improper burial be the central source of conflict. Wealthier individuals, such as those in the play, would have more social expectations in their burial process, as compared to the average citizen. Wealth and honor would be passed on to the afterlife, and a burial that was improper or did not occur would negatively affect this person. This question also links with the theme of God and Man’s Law as, in the play, divine law requires that Polyneikes be buried by his family.