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The Three Theban Plays: Antigone/Oedipus the King/Oedipus at Colonus Paperback – Feb 7 1984

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 1 edition (Feb. 7 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140444254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140444254
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #5,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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 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 AjaxAntigoneOedipus the KingWomen of TrachisElectraPhiloctetes, 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.

Robert Fagles (1933-2008) was Arthur W. Marks ’19 Professor of Comparative Literature, Emeritus, at Princeton University. He was the recipient of the 1997 PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and a 1996 Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His translations include Sophocles’s Three Theban Plays, Aeschylus’s Oresteia (nominated for a National Book Award), Homer’s Iliad (winner of the 1991 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award by The Academy of American Poets), Homer’s Odyssey, and Virgil's Aeneid.

Bernard Knox (1914-2010) was Director Emeritus of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. He taught at Yale University for many years. Among his numerous honors are awards from the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His works include The Heroic Temper: Studies in Sophoclean Tragedy, Oedipus at Thebes: Sophocles’ Tragic Hero and His Time and Essays Ancient and Modern (awarded the 1989 PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award).

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
"Antigone" is one of the 5 greatest plays in Western literature, and from this beautiful translation, it is easy to see why. The language absolutely captures each dramatic moment, from the first confrontation between Antigone and Creon, to the warnings of Ismene, to the callous indifference of the guards, to the immortal Hymn to Man chorus. Additionally, Knox's introduction is superb. If anyone has any doubt what is meant by "the glory that was Greece," read this wonderful volume from cover to cover--twice.
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By A Customer on June 21 1999
Format: Paperback
In my Grade 12 English class, we studied both Oedipus Rex and Antigone. However, the translation we used was markedly inferior to this one, which I found halfway through the course in a used book store. Fagles has managed to retain Sophocles's original spirit while using modern English idioms and grammar. I highly recommend it.
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