Broadcast 8 November – 22 November, 2023. Duration: 6 hours 7 minutes


When Freud experienced a ‘feeling of derealisation’ whilst standing on the hill of the Acropolis, it occurred against the history of a lifetime’s engagement with the problems first raised by thinkers in ancient Greece. From translating a passage from Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex for a school exam to discovering the proto-drive theory of the pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles in his 80s, Freud’s interest in ancient Greek tragedy and philosophy was formative and sustained.

This course charts the affinities between Freud and ancient Greek thought from his early, co-authored work, Studies on Hysteria, to his late, troubling masterpiece, Civilisation and its Discontents.

Each session will focus on these themes:
Part 1 – Freud and Aesthetics: Aristotle, tragedy, and the cathartic cure
Part 2 – Freud and Metaphysics: Plato, dreams, and the problem of desire
Part 3 – Freud and Ethics: Human flourishing to ordinary unhappiness

The course is delivered by the Freud Museum’s Research Manager Tom DeRose.


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