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 Frank Nisetich, Sarah Ruden, Rachel Kitzinger, Emily Wilson, 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
"This is the Medea we have been waiting for. It offers clarity without banality, eloquence without pretension, meter without doggerel, accuracy without clumsiness. No English Medea can ever be Euripides', but this is as close as anyone has come so far, and a good deal closer than I thought anyone would ever come. Arnson-Svarlien has shown herself exceedingly skillful in making Euripides sound Euripidean." --David M. Schaps, Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"Fluid, lively, and accurate!" --Amy Vail, Department of Classics, Baylor University
"Arnson Svarlien's Medea reveals a translator who can write with genuine distinction, in proper sentences, with a rare sense of rhythm." --Malcolm Heath, in Greece and Rome
Based on 20 previously untranslated fragments, this is a reconstruction of Euripides lost tragic comedy, Alcmaeon in Corinth, the third part of his final trilogy, with Bacchai and Iphigeneia in Aulis. Alcmaeon, having killed his mother, is pursued by the furies, his madness taking the form of satyriasis. When he unwittingly finds himself in bed with his daughter, he must face his children's fury.Alcmaeon in Corinth was commissioned by The Academy at Live Theatre, Newcastle, and was performed there in September 2004.
A stunning, new translation by the poet and classicist Anne Carson, first performed in 2015 at the Almeida Theatre in London Anne Carson writes, “Euripides was a playwright of the fifth century BC who reinvented Greek tragedy, setting it on a path that leads straight to reality TV. His plays broke all the rules, upended convention and outraged conservative critics. The Bakkhai is his most subversive play, telling the story of a man who cannot admit he would rather live in the skin of a woman, and a god who seems to combine all sexualities into a single ruinous demand for adoration. Dionysos is the god of intoxication. Once you fall under his influence, there is no telling where you will end up.”
"[Woodruff's translation] is clear, fluent, and vigorous, well thought out, readable and forceful. The rhythms are right, ever-present but not too insistent or obvious. It can be spoken instead of read and so is viable as an acting version; and it keeps the lines of the plot well focused. The Introduction offers a good survey of critical approaches. The notes at the foot of the page are suitably brief and nonintrusive and give basic information for the non-specialist." --Charles Segal, Harvard University
"This is a very useful edition, excellent for classroom purposes. The translation is clear and lively, and several students commented on how much they enjoyed it. The introduction provides an excellent overview of the issues in the play, as well as of earlier scholarship, making it a good resource for more advanced classes. The cover photo is an added bonus and provided the starting point for stimulating class discussion." --James B. Rives, York University
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