In this innovative rendition of The Oresteia, the poet, translator, and essayist Anne Carson combines three different visions—Aischylos' Agamemnon, Sophokles' Elektra, and Euripides' Orestes—giving birth to a wholly new experience of the classic Greek triumvirate of vengeance. After the murder of her daughter Iphegenia by her husband Agamemnon, Klytaimestra exacts a mother's revenge, murdering Agamemnon and his mistress, Kassandra. Displeased with Klytaimestra's actions, Apollo calls on her son, Orestes, to avenge his father's death with the help of his sister Elektra. In the end, Orestes, driven mad by the Furies for his bloody betrayal of family, and Elektra are condemned to death by the people of Argos, and must justify their actions—signaling a call to change in society, a shift from the capricious governing of the gods to the rule of manmade law.
Carson's accomplished rendering combines elements of contemporary vernacular with the traditional structures and rhetoric of Greek tragedy, opening up the plays to a modern audience. In addition to its accessibility, the wit and dazzling morbidity of her prose sheds new light on the saga for scholars. Anne Carson's Oresteia is a watershed translation, a death-dance of vengeance and passion not to be missed.
Anne Carson is a professor of Classics at the University of Toronto, Canada, as well as a poet, essayist, and translator. She was a Guggenheim Fellow and a MacArthur Fellow, and has won a Pushcart Prize, a Lannan Literary Award, and a PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. Carson's first book, Eros the Bittersweet, was named one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time by the Modern Library. Her other works include Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse, The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos, and Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera.
Aiskhylos (also known as Aeschylus) was the father of Greek tragedy, whose innovations in theater included conflict directly between characters, rather than through the intermediary of the chorus. Though a prolific playwright of an estimated seventy to ninety plays, only seven of Aiskhylos' works survive. Among the most famous are The Persians and the Oresteia trilogy.
Sophokles (also known as Sophocles) was a celebrated Greek playwright who won more drama competitions than Aiskhylos and Euripides combined. He is known for his advancements in character development and for adding a third character to his plays. Though he wrote over 120 plays, only seven remain today, the most famous of which are Oedipus Rex and Antigone.
Euripides was a tragedian who revolutionized theater by presenting mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and by examining inner lives and motives as well as recounting action. He was also unique in displaying sympathy toward women and other marginalized people. Eighteen of Euripides' estimated 92 to 95 plays have survived, the best known of which are Medea, Electra, and Bacchae.
Now, Penelope and her chorus of wronged maids tell their side of the story in a new stage version by Margaret Atwood, adapted from her own wry, witty and wise novel.
The Penelopiad premiered with the Royal Shakespeare Company in association with Canada's National Arts Centre at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, in July 2007.