Persians and other plays / Oresteia.
Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009. c. 530 pages. Original Softcover. Secondhand book in very good condition. [Oxford world’s classics].
Book 1: 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 father’s 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.
Book 2: Aeschylus is a towering figure in western literature, the first of the great Greek playwrights, a dramatist whose work still has the power to inspire and terrify readers and theatre-goers alike. The four plays in this volume demonstrate the full range and depth of Aeschylus’s genius. Persians is the only surviving tragedy to draw on contemporary history, the Greeks’ extraordinary victory over Persia in 480 BC. In Seven Against Thebes, a royal family is cursed with self-destruction, in a remorseless tragedy that anticipates the grandeur of the later Oresteia. Suppliants portrays the wretched plight of the daughters of Danaus, fleeing from enforced marriage. And in the hugely influential Prometheus Bound, Prometheus is relentlessly persecuted by Zeus for benefitting mankind in defiance of the god. Christopher Collard’s highly readable new translation is accompanied by an introduction that sets the plays in their original context; by comprehensive explanatory notes on the language, structure, and content of the plays, and by an up-to-date bibliography, five maps, and an index.