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The Three Theban Plays: Antigone/Oedipus the King/Oedipus at Colonus [Paperback]

Sophocles , Bernard Knox , Robert Fagles
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 26 1984 Penguin Classics
The heroic Greek dramas that have moved theatergoers and readers since the fifth century B.C.

Towering over the rest of Greek tragedy, the three plays that tell the story of the fated Theban royal family—Antigone, Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus—are among the most enduring and timeless dramas ever written. Robert Fagles's authoritative and acclaimed translation conveys all of Sophocles's lucidity and power: the cut and thrust of his dialogue, his ironic edge, the surge and majesty of his choruses and, above all, the agonies and triumphs of his characters.
This Penguin Classics edition features an introduction and notes by the renowned classicist Bernard Knox.

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Aristotle called "Oedipus The King," the second-written of the three Theban plays written by Sophocles, the masterpiece of the whole of Greek theater. Today, nearly 2,500 years after Sophocles wrote, scholars and audiences still consider it one of the most powerful dramatic works ever made. Freud sure did. The three plays--"Antigone," "Oedipus the King," and "Oedipus at Colonus"--are not strictly a trilogy, but all are based on the Theban myths that were old even in Sophocles' time. This particular edition was rendered by Robert Fagles, perhaps the best translator of the Greek classics into English.

About the Author

Sophocles was born in 496 BC. His long life spanned the rise and decline of the Athenian Empire. He wrote over a hundred plays, many of which are published as Penguin Classics, drawing on a wide and varied range of themes. E.F. Watling translated a range of Greek and Roman plays for Penguin, including the seven plays of Sophocles and the tragedies of Seneca.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT Version! May 25 2003
By Brian B
There are a few versions of the Three Theban Plays out there for you to buy, but this is the one I most highly recommend. And it all comes down to a key word: translation.
I really like the work that Robert Fagles does on his translations. They are easy to read, fluid, and still manage to be poetic. There's a lot of work put into these pages, and it shows.
For work or for pleasure, The Three Theban Plays is an important part of dramatic history that everyone should read. If you're reading it, read it the best way that you can. Get this translation, and get it now.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Oedipus and friends Feb. 24 2004
Oedipus the king is great, Antigone is good too. I'm not read Oedipus at colonus. The greeks did it as good as any modern writer, even shakespeare.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hallowed ancestor to Hollywood?? Aug. 27 2002
By A Customer
I just saw the 1957 film of Oedipus Rex. Wo - ow. What a story.
And this translation by Robert Fagles is extremely good. Sophocles' drama is so simple, and so perfect, that it will probably never be forgotten! This is the ancestor to Hollywood - from 2500 years ago. THRILL to the dramatic exposition of Oedipus' unknowing sins! LAUGH at the gorgeous double-entendres in every second line! SHUDDER at the scene where Oedipus and Jocasta think they have the prophecy licked, and laugh at the gods!
This is fine drama, no mistake. I have not yet read the other two Theban plays in this volume, but I'm sure they're great too.
Oh by the way: Australian readers take note. The cover of the Aussie edition has no fewer than EIGHT typing and setting errors! "Robert Eagles??" "Thebian Plays??" I see from Amazon that the American edition is corrected. But Australian readers should take note. I don't know, maybe someone accidentally submitted a draft?
To make sure you have the right edition, read the spine. The stuffed-up version says "THEBIAN PLAYS"...ooer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Translation Aug. 10 2001
By Todd
I'm a great fan of Robert Fagles, and by no means does he let the reader down with this adaptation of Sophocle's triumvirate masterpiece.
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First stop for drama lovers. These are uniquely remarkable plays that have obviously stood the test of time (2,500 years and counting) though, sadly, are often muddled in the mythology of their source. They are based on Theban myths already old when Sophocles adapted them and are unified only in their focus on the family of Oedipus, and in their temporal economy: there is no legendary "cycle". But they remain, as individual works, mesmeric. Plato, who would banish dramatists from his perfect Republic, went easy on Sophocles alone, Aristotle crowned him, Milton, Samuel Johnson, Yeats and Pound adored him, Shelley died with a Sophoclean text in his pocket. What precisely accounts for this magic? The answer is the obvious: there is a universality in themes - from politics of the state to the male-female dynamic, from mortality to divinity - despatched with a rhythm and speed prophetic of modern drama. Here's where Robert Fagles' brilliance shines: in his wit of interpretation, and the modern energy of the lines. Through the 19th century the performance of these plays (only seven of an estimated 120 survive) was banned in England on moral grounds: it is fascinating to behold the muddy turn of the cultural wheel, and measure unstoppable genius against fashion.
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