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.
The importance of these works to the history of drama and tragedy and to the history of classical literature is beyond question, and their themes of military hubris and foreign versus native are deeply relevant today. Persians offers a surprisingly sympathetic portrayal of the Athenians’ most hated enemy; in Seven against Thebes Argive invaders, though no less Greek than the Thebans themselves, are portrayed as barbarians; and in Suppliants the city of Argos is called upon to protect Egyptian refugees.
Based on textual evidence and the archaeological remains of the Theater of Dionysus at Athens, Poochigian’s introductory overview of stage properties and accompanying stage directions allow readers to experience the plays as they were performed in their own time. He is most careful in his translations of the plays’ choral odes. Instead of rendering them with little or no form, Poochigian has preserved the comprehensive structures Aeschylus himself employed. Readers are thus able to recognize Aeschylus as a master of poetry as well as of drama.
Poochigian’s translations are the most accurate renditions of the poetry and dramaturgy of the original works available. Intended to be both read as literature and performed as plays, these translations are lucid and readable, while remaining staunchly faithful to the texts.
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.