The Theban Plays: King Oedipus; Oedipus at Colonus; Antigone

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Overview

‘O Light! May I never look on you again,
Revealed as I am, sinful in my begetting,
Sinful in marriage, sinful in shedding of blood!’

The legends surrounding the royal house of Thebes inspired Sophocles (496–406 BC) to create a powerful trilogy of mankind’s struggle against fate. King Oedipus tells of a man who brings pestilence to Thebes for crimes he does not realise he has committed, and then inflicts a brutal punishment upon himself. With ...

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Overview

‘O Light! May I never look on you again,
Revealed as I am, sinful in my begetting,
Sinful in marriage, sinful in shedding of blood!’

The legends surrounding the royal house of Thebes inspired Sophocles (496–406 BC) to create a powerful trilogy of mankind’s struggle against fate. King Oedipus tells of a man who brings pestilence to Thebes for crimes he does not realise he has committed, and then inflicts a brutal punishment upon himself. With profound insights into the human condition, it is a devastating portrayal of a ruler brought down by his own oath. Oedipus at Colonus provides a fitting conclusion to the life of the aged and blinded king, while Antigone depicts the fall of the next generation, through the conflict between a young woman ruled by her conscience and a king too confident in his own authority.

E. F. Watling’s masterful translation is accompanied by an introduction, which examines the central themes of the plays, the role of the Chorus, and the traditions and staging of Greek tragedy.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140440034
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 6/28/1950
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 405,102
  • Product dimensions: 5.09 (w) x 7.83 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Sophocles was born at Colonus, just outside Athens, in 496 BC, and lived ninety years. His long life spanned the rise and decline of the Athenian Empire; he was a friend of Pericles, and though not an active politician he held several public offices, both military and civil. The leader of a literary circle and friend of Herodotus, he was interested in poetic theory as well as practice, and he wrote a prose treatise On the Chorus. He seems to have been content to spend all his life at Athens, and is said to have refused several invitations to royal courts.

Sophocles first won a prize for tragic drama in 468, defeating the veteran Aeschylus. He wrote over a hundred plays for the Athenian theater, and is said to have come first in twenty-four contests. Only seven of his tragedies are now extant, these being Ajax, Antigone, Oedipus the King, Women of Trachis, Electra, Philoctetes, and the posthumous Oedipus at Colonus. A substantial part of The Searches, a satyr play, was recovered from papyri in Egypt in modern times. Fragments of other plays remain, showing that he drew on a wide range of themes; he also introduced the innovation of a third actor in his tragedies. He died in 406 BC.
E.F. Watling was educated at Christ's Hospital and University College, Oxford. His translations of Greek and Roman plays for the Penguin Classics include the seven plays of Sophocles, nine plays of Plautus, and a selection of the tragedies of Seneca.
E.F. Watling was educated at Christ's Hospital and University College, Oxford. His translations of Greek and Roman plays for the Penguin Classics include the seven plays of Sophocles, nine plays of Plautus, and a selection of the tragedies of Seneca.

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Table of Contents

The Theban Plays Introduction

The Theban Legend

King Oedipus

The Legend Continued

Oedipus at Colonus

The Legend Continued

Antigone

Notes to King Oedipus
Notes to Oedipus at Colonus
Notes to Antigone

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2000

    Good book that presented Good plays

    This book presented good plays, especially the play, Antigone, which was my favorite. Even though it can be hard to read, it is worth it. Antigone is a play about a greek woman,who stands up for the laws of Heaven instead of the laws of man, including King Creon, who ends up basically killing her. Antigone is very bold and stands up for her beliefs. She does not fit the Greek image of a woman because she is so bold and is independent(in whom is running her life), and her boldness leads to her downfall. Although, she does weaken up at the end, she still goes down with her same opion. These plays were very good and taught lessons that happen in even modern life situations.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2000

    The Three Best Plays of All Time

    The Theban Plays are some of the most exciting plays which i have ever read. They are always interesting and you shall never get bored. Through this trilogy, you will learn many things about Greek plays, especially from one of the greatest philosophers of all time. I Highly recommend this book to all.

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