What do we mean by 'tragedy' in present-day usage? When we turn on the news, does a report of the latest atrocity have any connection with the masterpieces of Sophocles, Shakespeare and Racine? What has tragedy been made to mean by dramatists, story-tellers, critics, philosophers, politiciansand journalists over the last two and a half millennia? Why do we still read, re-write, and stage these old plays? This book argues for the continuities between 'then' and 'now'. Addressing questions about belief, blame, mourning, revenge, pain, witnessing, timing and ending, Adrian Poole demonstrates the age-old significance of our attempts to make sense of terrible suffering.