Sophocles: Electra

Sophocles: Electra

by Jenny March
     
 

King Agamemnon is long dead and his murderers rule at Argos. His son Orestes returns from exile to kill themùhis own mother Clytemnestra and her seducer Aegisthus. Thus he will release his sister Electra from oppression and reclaim his home and kingdom.

This is the only episode from Greek legend treated in surviving plays by all three of the great Athenian

Overview

King Agamemnon is long dead and his murderers rule at Argos. His son Orestes returns from exile to kill themùhis own mother Clytemnestra and her seducer Aegisthus. Thus he will release his sister Electra from oppression and reclaim his home and kingdom.

This is the only episode from Greek legend treated in surviving plays by all three of the great Athenian tragedians of the fifth century B.C.ùAeschylus in his Libation-bearers (part of the Oresteia trilogy), Sophocles and Euripides each in plays called Electra. Together these plays give us a unique opportunity to compare and contrast the very different treatments by the three playwrights of a central Greek legend. In SophoclesÆ hands the focus of the play is on Electra herself: her endurance and loyalty to the dead Agamemnon while oppressed and persecuted by Clytemnestra and Aegistus; her intense grief when she believes Orestes dead; her equally intense joy when she discovers him actually at her side; her final deliverance through his triumphant execution of vengeance on the murderers.

But is there more to the play than this story of triumphant revenge and restorations? The introduction of this book includes a survey of the main interpretative issues, as well as a summary of other treatments of the myth and a discussion of the problematic question of dating. The commentary, which is based on the translation, elucidates the action.

Editorial Reviews

LACT newsletter, 2005 - Ken Kilburn
this is a splendid edition, a good read for anyone interested in the play and a good text for students at any level.'
Vasiliki Giannopoulou
This book contains much well-balanced and intelligent discussion of the play,based on a very good survey of the relevant bibliography.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Every era needs the classics on its own terms, so Sophocles' Electra, translated by Anne Carson (The Beauty of the Husband; Forecasts, Dec. 18, 2000), should prove very popular among newcomers and seasoned readers of the sublime dramatist's brutal drama, as well as among Carson's many fans. While Carson renders the book in her signature free verse, her major innovation is the phonetic preservation of Electra's "far from formulaic" screams: "OIMOI," "O TALAINA" and "PHEU PHEU" among them. As Carson writes in her excellent translator's preface, they are not stock ejaculations like "Alas!" or "Woe is me!," but "bones of sound" emitted by the daughter who finds herself cheering her mother's execution. Though Oxford's stock existentialist cover looks like something from the height of '50s abstract angst and the book's paper is pulpy, expect strong sales. ( Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780856685767
Publisher:
Aris and Phillips
Publication date:
12/01/2001
Series:
Classical Texts Ser.
Edition description:
Bilingual
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.22(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.61(d)

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