The Oresteia: Agamemnon, the Libation Bearers, and the Eumenides

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Aeschylus' Oresteia is the only trilogy to survive from Greek tragedy, and the religious and moral ideas it enacts afterwards influenced a great dramatic genre, as well as giving its three plays their lasting significance. In this family history, Fate and the gods decree that each generation will repeat the crimes and endure the suffering of their forebears. When Agamemnon is murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra, their son Orestes must avenge his death. Only Orestes' appeal to the goddess Athena saves him from his ...
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Overview

Aeschylus' Oresteia is the only trilogy to survive from Greek tragedy, and the religious and moral ideas it enacts afterwards influenced a great dramatic genre, as well as giving its three plays their lasting significance. In this family history, Fate and the gods decree that each generation will repeat the crimes and endure the suffering of their forebears. When Agamemnon is murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra, their son Orestes must avenge his death. Only Orestes' appeal to the goddess Athena saves him from his mother's Furies, breaking the bloody chain; together gods and humans inaugurate a way of just conduct that will ensure stable families and a strong community. The Oresteia is majestic as theatre and as literature, and this new translation seeks to preserve both these qualities. The introduction and notes emphasize the interconnection of scenes, ideas, and language that distinguishes this unique work.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
These two new additions to Oxford's "Greek Tragedy in New Translations" series only add to the luster of the previous releases. Each is firmly packed with insightful introductions, comprehensive and numbered notes, glossaries, and up-to-date bibliographies (the plays' texts take up about half of each volume). The collaboration of poet and scholar in each volume produces a language that is easy to read and easy to speak (compare, for instance, the Watchman's first lines in Shapiro and Burian's Agamemnon with those in Lattimore's 1947 translation). Each volume's introduction presents the play's action and themes with some detail. The translators' notes describe the linguistic twists and turns involved in rendering the text into a modern poetic language. Both volumes are enthusiastically recommended for academic libraries, theater groups, and theater departments.-Larry Schwartz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Though it's tempting to imagine the late English poet laureate's long tortured relationship with the image of (his wife) feminist heroine Sylvia Plath as its subtext, this vivid free-verse translation of Aeschylus' dark and bloody tragic trilogy (comprising Agamemnon, Choephori, and Eumenides) more properly evinces Hughes's wide range of interests and mastery of classic literatures. His nearly conversational rhythms produce an arresting mixture of colloquialism and formality, enlivened by strong imagery (as in the matricidal Orestes' declaration that "This house has been the goblet / That the demon of homicide, unquenchable, / Has loved to drain"), and only infrequently weakened by astonishing woodenness—as in Clytemnestra's cool reply to the Chorus who lament her murder of her husband: "You think I'm an irresponsible woman? / You are making a mistake"). Perhaps not the ultimate "acting edition" it claims to be, but, still, an essential further installment in the always interesting oeuvre of a gifted poet who was also a diligent scholar.
From the Publisher

"These two new additions to Oxford's 'Greek Tragedy in New Translations' series only add to the luster of the previous releases. Each is firmly packed with insightful introductions, comprehensive and numbered notes, glossaries, and up-to-date bibliographies (the plays' texts take up about half of each volume). The collaboration of poet and scholar in each volume produces a language that is easy to read and easy to speak (compare, for instance, the Watchman's first lines in Shapiro and Burian's Agamemnon with those in Lattimore's 1947 translation). Each volume's introduction presents the play's action and themes with some detail. The translators' notes describe the linguistic twists and turns involved in rendering the text into a modern poetic language. Both volumes are enthusiastically recommended for academic libraries, theatre groups, and theatre departments."--Library Journal [starred review of Oresteia and Antigone&R]


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553210705
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/1982
  • Pages: 384

Meet the Author

Alan Shapiro is Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of a number of prize-winning volumes of poetry and prose, including The Dead Alive and Busy, winner of the 2001 Kingsley Tufts Award. Peter Burian is Professor of Classical Studies at Duke University. Together, they act as the general editors for Oxford's Greek Tragedy in New Translations series.

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Table of Contents

Abbreviations: Play-Titles and Works Frequently Cited ix
Summary of the Stage-Action xi
Introduction xv
1. Aeschylus and the Oresteia xv
2. A view of the Oresteia xx
2.1. The dramatic ideas and their sources xx
2.2. The dramatic design and the characters xxiii
2.3. Issues and meanings xxx
2.4. The plays in Aeschylus' theatre xliii
3. Dramatic form and language in Aeschylus xlviii
3.1. Dramatic form in general xlviii
3.2. Speech and spoken dialogue xlix
3.3. Choral song and lyric dialogue li
3.4. Language and imagery liv
4. Aeschylus now: 'reception' and public response lix
Note on the Text, Translation, and Explanatory Notes lxiii
Bibliography and Further Reading lxix
A Chronology of Aeschylus' Life and Times lxxiv
Family Trees of the Principal Characters of the Oresteia lxxvi
Map: Greece and the Aegean Sea lxxviii
Agamemnon 1
Libation Bearers 49
Eumenides 83
Explanatory Notes 114
Textual Appendix 229
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