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.
No play of Euripides is more admired than Hippolytus. The tale of a married woman stirred to passion for a younger man was traditional, but Euripides modified this story and blended it with one of divine vengeance to create a masterpiece of tension, pathos, and dramatic power. In this play, Phaedra fights nobly but unsuccessfully against her desire for her stepson Hippolytus, while the young man risks his life to keep her passion secret. Both of them, constrained by the overwhelming force of divine power and human ignorance, choose to die in order to maintain their virtue and their good names.