Ç Greek Tragedies, Volume 1 ✓ Download by ð David Grene This week s reading included a book of Greek tragedies So far I ve read Agamemnon, Prometheus Bound, Oedipus the King, and I m working on Antigone I m not really a big fan of Greek mythology compared to other mythologies , and somehow I thought I would feel similarly about Greek tragedies So far, though I have to say, I m really enjoying them I prefer tragedies or at least histories to comedies when it comes to plays anyway, and these have some really great lines Granted, they re not the cheeriest bit of lunchtime reading ever, but I find dealing with difficult clients is much easier when I compare my problems to those of the plays characters It s all relative, I suppose.
Myths are amazing Oedipus The King 4 5 possibly the best written story of dramatic irony, fate, and tragic flaw In Three Paperback Volumes, The Grene And Latti Editions Offer A Selection Of The Most Important And Characteristic Plays Of Aeschylus, Sophocles, And Euripides From The Nine Volume Anthology Of The Complete Greek Tragedies Over The Years These Authoritative, Critically Acclaimed Editions Have Been The Preferred Choice Of Than Three Million Readers For Personal Libraries And Individual Study As Well As For Classroom Use This review is of the third edition I assigned this anthology for students in my Greek and Roman mythology class My review will be in three parts 1 The translation and paratextual apparatus 2 The selection of texts 3 The plays themselves.
1 The translation and paratextual apparatusLike the series from which these translations come, The Complete Greek Tragedies, these are readable, poetic renderings by translator poets The original editors of the volume, David Grene and Richmond Latti, translated four out of the five themselves Grene Prometheus Bound, Oedipus the King, and Hippolytus Latti Agamemnon and Elizabeth Wyckoff translated the fifth play, Sophocles Antigone These translations are both poetic and smooth, and they avoid the awkwardness of, for example, Fagles putting Aieee into people s mouths to translate Aiai .
My one concern is that in this third edition, the new editors, Mark Griffith and Glenn W Most, have taken it upon themselves not only to update the introductions and notes, but the translations as well They claim that they have made the translations accurate I do not have time to sit down with the second and third editions and the Greek texts, but I am skeptical about this claim, solely on the grounds that poetic meaning and poetic diction are not always properly separable, and one Greek word or phrase may have multiple English renderings of which I m sure Griffith and Most are aware I fear that this is of the humanities slipping towards a false certainty of accuracy derived from the sciences.
Paratextually, I am not fond of endnotes in the first place Endnotes that are marked by a symbol in the main text that requires you to hunt and hunt I like less This, however, is the name of the game for popular level translations of the classics, as seen in Penguin and Oxford World s Classics as well I found the introductions just what an undergrad needs basic information, quick, snappy not too long Finally, I am not so fond of rendering the sung parts of the plays in italics A fourth edition should think of something else, although I think the rubrics should be enough.
2 The selection of textsThis is a good volume for someone who wants to try out Greek tragedies or for a class like mine that is giving a taster of classical literature Aeschylus and Sophocles most famous plays are here, Agamemnon and Prometheus Bound for the former, and Oedipus the King and Antigone for the latter I would have expected Medea or Bacchae from Euripides rather than Hippolytus In fact, one weakness of the selection is the fact that we get only five plays two from each playwright would have made sense Euripides, who exists in larger quantity, gets short shrift The only problem with selection is endemic to anthologies we get Agamemnon but not the rest of the Oresteia, for example but at least that s the best play of the three.
3 The plays themselves Agamemnon by Aeschylus begins the volume Here you meet straight up the fact that all the action happens off stage in a Greek tragedy This is the story of the homecoming of the Greek general from Troy to an unjoyous reunion with his wife, Clytemnestra, and his cousin, Aegisthus Machinations are afoot, and vengeance is found Clytemnestra has the reputation of being the most evil woman in Greek literature, but if your husband sacrificed your daughter to a goddess before going off to war for ten years, then came home with a concubine, I think you d be a bit ticked off as well Hubris and inescapable necessity anangke are the themes here.
Then Aeschylus Prometheus Bound This play opens with Prometheus getting chained to a rock and then having conversations with passersby, explaining why he was chained there and what it will take to unchain him The main theme is the power of Zeus The confrontation between Prometheus and Zeus, it must be remembered, is between two gods So, unlike the Romantics reading of the play, there is no railing against divine in justice here Rather, since we are beholding ontological equals in conflict, the question of ancient Greek tyranny is much germane than whether Olympian Zeus was a tyrant in relation to humans Along the way, the myth of Io is also told I d hate to see a film version of this with a CG cow delivering Io s lines Oedipus the King is Sophocles famous rendering of the myth of Oedipus, a story known to most of us because of Sigmund Freud The play is a masterpiece, as demonstrated by Aristotle s Poetics The confrontations with Oedipus from the beginning of the play to when he blinds himself demonstrate his own unwillingness to acknowledge the limits of his knowledge Relentlessly, he pursues the truth, drawing the circle around himself as the murderer of Laius tighter and tighter until the moment of recognition anagnorisis comes, bringing the main character s fall.
After the events of Oedipus, there is a civil war between his sons recounted in its own way in Aeschylus play Seven Against Thebes, which is in Aeschylus II When the civil war is over, the brothers Eteocles and Polyneices lie dead on the battlefield before Thebes Creon, their uncle and Oedipus brother in law uncle, is now king He decrees that Polynieces is not to be buried since he waged war against his own fatherland.
Here begins Sophocles Antigone I have a soft spot for this play, since it was the first piece of classical literature I read, back in high school the second, in the summer before Grade 12, was the translation of Homer s Odyssey by Robert Fagles Here we see the conflict between natural divine law on the one hand and man made law on the other Even though the play was written before Oedipus, Sophocles is consistent in his characterisation of Creon a man who did not want to become king because of the worries it would create In this play, he grows in paranoia until he breaks and relents too late to stop a triple suicide Powerful in its portrayal of female confrontation with authority.
The volume closes with Euripides Hippolytus Here the theme is love, and love gone wrong Hippolytus rejects Aphrodite, so she makes his step mother, Phaedra, fall in love with him Contrary to the positive portrayal of romantic love in pop songs and Hollywood, Euripides presents us with an elemental, amoral, at times immoral force that brings destruction all around it.
All five plays are masterpieces of Greek literature.
This only pertains to Sophocles Oedipus the King It was my first time reading this story and wasn t that difficult to follow This translation is done well and is simple for the reader to follow the scenes There always seems to be a bit of action going on in this story What I mean by that is there is always tension through the story which creates a healthy amount of suspense that engages the reader There are moments of relief but they do not last long as the suspense builds again You could easily read all 1727 lines in one sitting which is incredible as most classic pieces lose my attention rather quickly The questions posed by this story from a perspective of fate really reinforced during its time that no matter what you do the gods always have their way You can see through the concerted efforts of both Oedipus s real father and Oedipus himself they try to circumvent their fates but can t escape what is ordained It leaves Oedipus feeling hopeless in his circumstances Since it was my first time reading the story the ending for me was not what I predicted which further advanced my opinion of this being a good read.
I recently read and reviewed the Oresteia of Aeschylus, translated by Richmond Latti I didn t like it that much The present work was much entertaining The five plays collected here are selected from The Complete Greek Tragedies 4 Vol Set perhaps they are the greatest hits Agamemnon is pretty slow, but Prometheus Bound is rather remarkable While most of the tragedies are fairly pious, this one is iconoclastic It is no surprise that Prometheus should rail against his torturers, but it is surprising to hear the Chorus say to him, I am strong in hope that once released from these chains you will be no less strong that Zeus I was also surprised to see that Aeschylus could write something funny Prometheus, after foretelling Io s destiny, invites her questions If anything of this is still obscureor difficult ask me again and learnclearly I have leisure than I wish Oedipus the King is recognizably an interesting play, but I found it hard to enjoy, because the entire plot is so well known It s like Dracula no one is surprised when the Count turns out to be a view spoiler vampire hide spoiler It s tough to give a balanced review on this book, considering that it contains 5 separate plays by three separate authors I enjoyed all of them, though it can be a bit rough to read 5 Greek tragedies in succession Most of the stories I was already familiar with, and some I had even read before, but I think my favorite was Antigone I actually got caught up in the climax in the end, which I generally wasn t expecting I intend to read the rest of the tragedies in the series, not only for the entertainment that the stories themselves provide, but also the literary significance these works represent Many of these works are oft referenced by other stories, and I believe that by understanding an author s source material, as a reader you are better equipped to understand the author s narrative I would recommend to any looking for a good introduction to Greek tragedy, as well as any looking to become a well rounded reader of literature.
Yes, I did enjoy reading these plays but I was in awe by their production Aside from the chorus or orchestra the extras , only three actors played all the characters in the play And it just wasn t one play that Aeshylus, Sophocles or Euripedes created They wrote three tragedies and a comedy to be performed in competition for their audiences.
What also helped in understanding and appreciating these plays was to listen to some lectures by Elizabeth Vandiver on the Greek Tragedy Professor Vandiver describes in detail costuming, stage sets and how these plays might have been performed.
Greek Tragedies Volume 1 is definitely worth the read and it s a shame to realize how many of these great works have been lost to us.

Required text for school, otherwise I would not have purchased this book Grene s translation pales in comparison to that of Smyth and other translators Grene does a very poor job I compared him line by line to a few others The best translation of Prometheus Bound is by Smyth It got better and better as it went, Oedipus and Hippolytus were definitely my favorites as far as how they were told and what they instilled in the audience.