Winter 2023 Fundamental Questions Seminar: Sophocles' Antigone

Feb 16, 2023
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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David LyonsUniversity of Chicago


Open to current undergraduate students at the University of Chicago. Registration is capped at 20. Students who register after capacity has been reached will be put on a waitlist. All registrants will be provided with a copy of the text.


“For death is gain to him whose life, like mine, is full of misery.” 

Here is the paradigmatic tragic lament, wrenched from Antigone in Sophocles' famous play. But what is tragedy? Is life miserable because it is meaningless? Or is the tragedy not that life has no value, but that it has too many values? What does one do when one’s responsibilities to family, country, and religion collide? And how does one hold onto one’s freedom and identity in the face of undeniable, but incompatible, demands? Join us as we explore what this ancient text about a young woman struggling to bury her brother can tell us about our own more modern–and less melodramatic–lives. 


This event is part of Lumen Christi’s Fundamental Questions seminar, a quarterly reading group designed for undergraduate students at the University of Chicago. By fostering intellectually rigorous conversation around culturally resonant texts, we aim to allow students to experience the force of the deep existential concerns which animate our lives: “Where do my values come from? What is the good life? How can I become happy?” Our aim is not to answer such fundamental questions, but rather to equip students with the intellectual skills needed to recognize and articulate them for themselves. 

This fundamental questions seminar meets three times during the quarter. For each session, we will meet and discuss over dinner.  Dinner is served at 6:00pm. Discussion begins at 6:15.



6:00 PM Dinner | 6:15 PM Discussion

Week 3 : Thursday, January 19: lines 1-331 (p. 3-16)

Week 5 : Thursday, February 2: lines 332-780 (p. 16-36)

Week 7 : Thursday, February 16: lines 781-end (p. 36-60)


David Lyons is Assistant Instructional Professor in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division at the University of Chicago. He studies the history and theory of modernity, receiving his PhD from the University of Chicago in 2017. His work challenges conventional academic accounts of the Enlightenment as a disinterested project for the emancipation and material betterment of humanity and recasts it as a polemical project in securing the social and political hegemony of bourgeois common sense. Born and raised in Toledo, Ohio, David received both an A.B. in History and a J.D. from the University of Michigan. Before coming to Chicago for graduate school Lyons practiced as an attorney in Columbus, Ohio.