An Oresteia: Agamemnon by Aiskhylos; Elektra by Sophokles; Orestes by Euripides

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A Bold, Iconoclastic New Look at One of the Great Works of Greek Tragedy

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.

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About the author

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.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Published on
Mar 31, 2009
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9781429922920
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Language
English
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Genres
Drama / Ancient & Classical
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A landmark anthology of the masterpieces of Greek drama, featuring all-new, highly accessible translations of some of the world’s most beloved plays, including Agamemnon, Prometheus Bound, Bacchae, Electra, Medea, Antigone, and Oedipus the King

Featuring translations by Emily Wilson, Frank Nisetich, Sarah Ruden, Rachel Kitzinger, Mary Lefkowitz, and James Romm

The great plays of Ancient Greece are among the most enduring and important legacies of the Western world. Not only is the influence of Greek drama palpable in everything from Shakespeare to modern television, the insights contained in Greek tragedy have shaped our perceptions of the nature of human life. Poets, philosophers, and politicians have long borrowed and adapted the ideas and language of Greek drama to help them make sense of their own times.

This exciting curated anthology features a cross section of the most popular—and most widely taught—plays in the Greek canon. Fresh translations into contemporary English breathe new life into the texts while capturing, as faithfully as possible, their original meaning.

This outstanding collection also offers short biographies of the playwrights, enlightening and clarifying introductions to the plays, and helpful annotations at the bottom of each page. Appendices by prominent classicists on such topics as “Greek Drama and Politics,” “The Theater of Dionysus,” and “Plato and Aristotle on Tragedy” give the reader a rich contextual background. A detailed time line of the dramas, as well as a list of adaptations of Greek drama to literature, stage, and film from the time of Seneca to the present, helps chart the history of Greek tragedy and illustrate its influence on our culture from the Roman Empire to the present day.

With a veritable who’s who of today’s most renowned and distinguished classical translators, The Greek Plays is certain to be the definitive text for years to come.

Praise for The Greek Plays

“Mary Lefkowitz and James Romm deftly have gathered strong new translations from Frank Nisetich, Sarah Ruden, Rachel Kitzinger, Emily Wilson, as well as from Mary Lefkowitz and James Romm themselves. There is a freshness and pungency in these new translations that should last a long time. I admire also the introductions to the plays and the biographies and annotations provided. Closing essays by five distinguished classicists—the brilliant Daniel Mendelsohn and the equally skilled David Rosenbloom, Joshua Billings, Mary-Kay Gamel, and Gregory Hays—all enlightened me. This seems to me a helpful light into our gathering darkness.”—Harold Bloom
Greek Tragedies, Volume I contains Aeschylus’s “Agamemnon,” translated by Richmond Lattimore; Aeschylus’s “Prometheus Bound,” translated by David Grene; Sophocles’s “Oedipus the King,” translated by David Grene; Sophocles’s “Antigone,” translated by Elizabeth Wyckoff; and Euripides’s “Hippolytus,” translated by David Grene. Sixty years ago, the University of Chicago Press undertook a momentous project: a new translation of the Greek tragedies that would be the ultimate resource for teachers, students, and readers. They succeeded. Under the expert management of eminent classicists David Grene and Richmond Lattimore, those translations combined accuracy, poetic immediacy, and clarity of presentation to render the surviving masterpieces of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides in an English so lively and compelling that they remain the standard translations. Today, Chicago is taking pains to ensure that our Greek tragedies remain the leading English-language versions throughout the twenty-first century. In this highly anticipated third edition, Mark Griffith and Glenn W. Most have carefully updated the translations to bring them even closer to the ancient Greek while retaining the vibrancy for which our English versions are famous. This edition also includes brand-new translations of Euripides’ Medea, The Children of Heracles, Andromache, and Iphigenia among the Taurians, fragments of lost plays by Aeschylus, and the surviving portion of Sophocles’s satyr-drama The Trackers. New introductions for each play offer essential information about its first production, plot, and reception in antiquity and beyond. In addition, each volume includes an introduction to the life and work of its tragedian, as well as notes addressing textual uncertainties and a glossary of names and places mentioned in the plays. In addition to the new content, the volumes have been reorganized both within and between volumes to reflect the most up-to-date scholarship on the order in which the plays were originally written. The result is a set of handsome paperbacks destined to introduce new generations of readers to these foundational works of Western drama, art, and life.
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