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The Complete Greek Tragedies: Aeschylus I [Paperback]

Aeschylus , David Grene , Richmond Lattimore
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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May 15 1969 0226307786 978-0226307787 Second Edition
"These authoritative translations consign all other complete collections to the wastebasket."—Robert Brustein, The New Republic

"This is it. No qualifications. Go out and buy it everybody."—Kenneth Rexroth, The Nation

"The translations deliberately avoid the highly wrought and affectedly poetic; their idiom is contemporary....They have life and speed and suppleness of phrase."—Times Education Supplement

"These translations belong to our time. A keen poetic sensibility repeatedly quickens them; and without this inner fire the most academically flawless rendering is dead."—Warren D. Anderson, American Oxonian

"The critical commentaries and the versions themselves...are fresh, unpretentious, above all, functional."—Commonweal

"Grene is one of the great translators."—Conor Cruise O'Brien, London Sunday Times

"Richmond Lattimore is that rara avis in our age, the classical scholar who is at the same time an accomplished poet."—Dudley Fitts, New York Times Book Review

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About the Author

David Grene (1913–2002) taught classics for many years at the University of Chicago. He was a founding member of the Committee on Social Thought and coedited the University of Chicago Press’s prestigious series The Complete Greek Tragedies.

Richmond Lattimore (1906–1984) was a poet, translator, and longtime professor of Greek at Bryn Mawr College.

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5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest of Greek Tragedy July 8 2004
Aeschylus I (the Oresteia) probably best epitomized Greek tragedy. This compelling trilogy told the stories of endless cycles of violence in the House of Atreus that stretched across generations and only ended when peace and harmony took its place.
In "Agamemnon", the king had just returned from Troy when he is murdered in his bath by his wife and lover. Aegisthus, the son of Thyestes, sought revenge for his father, whom his brother, Atreus, killed two of his sons and fed him to Thyestes. Aegisthus, the surviving son returned to Argos to marry the queen after Agamenon left for Troy. This would make Aegisthus the ruler of Argos. Clytemnestra agreed to this because she hated her husband for sacrificing their oldest daughter, Iphegenia, to appease Artemis.
After Agamenon's death Orestes, only a child at the time, received a decree from the oracle to kill his mother to take revenge on behalf of his father. This is the theme of the "Libation Bearers." But when Orestes kills his mother it unleashes the Furies, primordial goddesses, who avenge Clytemnestra.
In the third play, "The Eumenides" Orestes is put on trial by Athene and is acquitted of the murder of his mother but the Furies are not satisfied. Only a peace-making offer from the goddess to the Furies ended the endless avenging approaches to justice.
The Oresteia centered on the concept of justice. How should a wrong be punished? What Aeschylus pointed out in his plays was that there were always two sides to every story. But it seemed man's fate to only see one side. Neither Orestes nor his sister, Electra, could see the anguish their mother experienced. They could not understand how she could slay their father because they saw no justification for such a brutal act.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Civilisation, Athena and the roots of tragedy March 3 2001
Aeschylus is recognised as the father of tragedy and achieves something new in the Oresteia trilogy which won him another first prize in the Dionysia 458 BC. Born some time near the end of the sixth century in Eleusis - home of the mysteries, he fought at Marathon and probably at Salamis too and died in Gela in Sicily.
Although written in the fifth century the play itself is set in the depths of Mycenean history at the time of the Trojan War (probably c. 1220 BC - the traditional date of 1184 being unacceptable in the context of LH IIIB archaeology. Unlike in Homer's Iliad (written some 300 years earlier) Agamemnon's Court is in the city of Argos. The play fits the traditional spark for the Trojan War in the affairs of Helen whereas in reality it may have had more to do with competitive markets in the weaving industry or disputed fishing rights. Lattimore uses some unconventional spellings and I have stuck with these.
The play recounts the curse of the House of Atreus which fell when Atreus slaughtered two of Thyestes' sons and fed them to him. The wife of Agamemnon's brother, Menelaus - Helen of Troy - is with Paris and Agamemnon plans to take an army to Ilium to recapture her. Before departing he sacrifices his daughter, Iphigenia (Iphigeneia) and then sets sail. Aeschylus now dissolves the next 7-10 years to the point of Agamemnon's return with Cassandra, the captive princess and prophetess of Troy - a reminder logic is almost constantly the subject rather than the master of divination.
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This edition is the materworks of two great men Aeschylus and Richmond Lattimore. I have read a dozen of translations of Aeschylus and this has no rival. As well the whole series edited by Green and Lattimore are the best compelation of all the Greek tragedy to date. Lattimore understand the darkness and the fatilism of greek tragedy. The verse translation is flowing and rythmic as the greek is. The translation is loose and not exacting like Lattimores Iliad but he captures the theme better than a too literal translation would allow.
This is the story of house of Atreus.
Agammenon: Agammenon has just returned from war. His wife Clyesmenstra, plots to kill him to avenge his daughters infanticide by Agammemon. As well it is also revenge by the gods for Agammenons willingness to make this scarifice and leading so many greeks and Trojans to their death in a meaningless war although the gods did not instruct C. to do this. As well A. brings back Cassandara his slave concubine who is cursed to see the future but never to be believed by Apollo. She forsees here own death and those of Agammenon and his troops.
Libatiion Bearers:
In this plays the Apollo sends Orestes to avenge his fathers death which the gods did not sanction. He does so and is attacked by the furies for matericide.
The Furies:
Athena passes judgement on Orestes because even though matercide is a crime it was sanctioned by a god to avenge a king. AS well the furies must be satisfied in there blood lust even if Oresties is found innocent.
The setting for the play is in the most primative of times which allows Aeschylus to create characters who do not follow the mores of his day more believeable. This play may have been the model for Hamlet.
Even after reading 100s of plays since the orestia this is still the most gripping drama that I have read. These plays and Hamelet are my favorites
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