The Complete Greek Tragedies: Aeschylus I Paperback – May 15 1969
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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
Most recent customer reviews
Aeschylus's Oresteia Trilogy is a wonderful story and great to read. It explains the greek life and life styles that were brought about thousands of years ago during the time of... Read morePublished on Sept. 10 2003 by Richard
All of the Grene/Lattimore translations I've read have been excellent, but this edition of the Oresteia stands out. Read morePublished on July 21 2002 by ben dueholm
Aeschylus' trilogy is very enjoyable reading. It would be fun to see these plays performed. It's too bad that so many of Aeschylus' plays did not survive. Read morePublished on Sept. 7 2001
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