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Based on the conviction that only translators who write poetry themselves can best re-create the celebrated and timeless tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the Greek Tragedy in New Translations series offers new translations that go beyond the literal meaning of the Greek in order to evoke the poetry of the originals. The tragedies collected here were origin Based on the conviction that only translators who write poetry themselves can best re-create the celebrated and timeless tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the Greek Tragedy in New Translations series offers new translations that go beyond the literal meaning of the Greek in order to evoke the poetry of the originals. The tragedies collected here were originally available as single volumes. This new collection retains the informative introductions and explanatory notes of the original editions, with Greek line numbers and a single combined glossary added for easy reference. This volume collects for the first time three of Sophocles most moving tragedies, all set in mythical Thebes: Oedipus the King, perhaps the most powerful of all Greek tragedies; Oedipus at Colonus, a story that reveals the reversals and paradoxes that define moral life; and Antigone, a touchstone of thinking about human conflict and human tragedy, the role of the divine in human life, and the degree to which men and women are the creators of their own destiny.


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Based on the conviction that only translators who write poetry themselves can best re-create the celebrated and timeless tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the Greek Tragedy in New Translations series offers new translations that go beyond the literal meaning of the Greek in order to evoke the poetry of the originals. The tragedies collected here were origin Based on the conviction that only translators who write poetry themselves can best re-create the celebrated and timeless tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the Greek Tragedy in New Translations series offers new translations that go beyond the literal meaning of the Greek in order to evoke the poetry of the originals. The tragedies collected here were originally available as single volumes. This new collection retains the informative introductions and explanatory notes of the original editions, with Greek line numbers and a single combined glossary added for easy reference. This volume collects for the first time three of Sophocles most moving tragedies, all set in mythical Thebes: Oedipus the King, perhaps the most powerful of all Greek tragedies; Oedipus at Colonus, a story that reveals the reversals and paradoxes that define moral life; and Antigone, a touchstone of thinking about human conflict and human tragedy, the role of the divine in human life, and the degree to which men and women are the creators of their own destiny.

30 review for The Complete Sophocles: Volume I: The Theban Plays

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Oidipous Epi Kolōnōi = Oedipus Tyrannus Coloneus and Antigone = The Theban Plays, Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus is one of the three Theban plays of the Athenian tragedian Sophocles. It was written shortly before Sophocles' death in 406 BC. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و ششم آگوست سال 1974میلادی عنوان: سه نمایشنامه : اودیپوس شاه، اودیپوس در کولونوس، آنتیگون؛ مترجم: محمد سعیدی؛ زیرنظر احسان یارشاطر؛ تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب، نخستین بار سال 1334، در 196ص؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان یونانی - سده پن Oidipous Epi Kolōnōi = Oedipus Tyrannus Coloneus and Antigone = The Theban Plays, Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus is one of the three Theban plays of the Athenian tragedian Sophocles. It was written shortly before Sophocles' death in 406 BC. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و ششم آگوست سال 1974میلادی عنوان: سه نمایشنامه : اودیپوس شاه، اودیپوس در کولونوس، آنتیگون؛ مترجم: محمد سعیدی؛ زیرنظر احسان یارشاطر؛ تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب، نخستین بار سال 1334، در 196ص؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان یونانی - سده پنجم پیش از میلادی عنوان: افسانه های تبای؛ اثر: سوفوکلس؛ ترجمه شاهرخ مسکوب؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، خوارزمی، 1352، در 376ص، شابک 9644870328؛ چاپ دوم 1356، چاپ چهارم 1385، موضوع: ادیپ، نمایشنامه، اساطیر یونان، سده پنج پیش از میلاد افسانه های «تبای»، آثار ماندگار نگارگر نامدار «یونانی (آتنی)»، «سوفوکلس» هستند؛ در یادداشتی کوتاه، در ابتدای کتاب، چنین آمده «نمایشنامه‌ های: «ادیپوس شهریار»، «ادیپوس در کلنوس»، و «آنتیگونه»، پیش از این با عنوانهای: «ادیپ شهریار»، «ادیپ در کلنوس»، و «آنتیگون»، جداگانه به چاپ رسیده‌ اند؛ این سه نمایشنامه، بر اساس اسطوره‌ ی دودمان «لابداسید»ها نوشته شده، و دوره‌ ای از سرگذشت افسانه‌ ای خاندان شاهی شهر «تبای» را، می‌نمایانند؛ موضوع هر سه نمایشنامه، به هم پیوسته، و مراحلی از پایان سرنوشت یک خانواده است؛ از همین‌ روی این‌بار، هر سه نمایشنامه در یک مجلد، و به نام «افسانه های تبای» به چاپ می‌رسد.» پایان نقل داستان نخست «اودیپ شهریار»: «اودیپ» از خاندان «لابداسید» است، که به نفرین خدایان گرفتارند، و همه به مرگی جانکاه میمیرند؛ هاتفان به «لائیوس»، پدر «اودیپ» میگویند، که بر فرزند وی، مقدّر شده است، که پدر خود را بکشد، و مادرش را، به زنی گیرد؛ آنگاه که «اودیپ» زاده میشود، از آنجا که پدر و مادر، نمیخواهند دست به خون پسرشان، بیالایند، وی را در دور دست، بر کوه «کیتاریون» رها میکنند، تا خود بمیرد؛ شبانی او را، از مرگ نجات میدهد، و به «کورنیتوس»، نزد «پولیبوس» شهریار میبرد؛ «اودیپ»، در آنجا بزرگ میشود، و از تقدیر خود آگاه میگردد؛ وی چون پدرخوانده و مادرخوانده اش را، والدین واقعی خود، میپنداشتند، از «کورنیتوس» میگریزند، تا سرنوشت شوم خود را تغییر دهند؛ در راه شهر «تبای»، به «لائیوس»، پدر راستین و ناشناخته ی خود، میرسد، و در نبردی او را میکشد، و در برخورد با اژدهایی، به نام «ابوالهول»، به معمّای او را پاسخ میدهد، و مردمان را، از مصیبتی بزرگ میرهاند، و مردمان، به شکرانه ی آن، او را پادشاه میکنند، و شهبانو «مادر اودیپ» همسر او میشود؛ پس از سالها فرمانروایی عادلانه، طاعون، بر شهر «اودیپ» فرو میآید؛ مردمان شهر، برای رهایی از چنگال «طاعون»، در برابر کاخِ پادشاه گرد میآیند، و درمان میخواهند؛ هاتف معبد میگوید: «گناهکاری در شهر هست که خون بیگناهی را ریخته است، و تا او مجازات نشود، طاعون شهر را رها نخواهد کرد»؛ «اودیپ» به تدریج پی میبرد، که او چوپان زاده نیست، و فرزند «لائیوس» است، که به دست «اودیپ»، کشته شده است، و با ملکه ی او ازدواج کرده است؛ پس از این کشف دردناک، مادر خود را، به دار میآویزد، و «اودیپ» خود را نابینا میکند، و بر اثر این جنایت، از زادگاه خود دور میشود داستان دوم: «اودیپ در کولونی»: پیرمرد نابینا، همراه دخترش «آنتیگون»، به یکی از حومه های شهر «آتن» پناه میبرد، و دیگر اعتمادی به خیر نیروی خدایان، و انسانها ندارد؛ «ایسمینه» دختر «اودیپ»، به آنجا میآید، و خبر میدهد، که بنا بر گفته ی هاتفِ معبد «دِلفی»، خدایان، «اودیپ» را بخشیده اند، و گفته اند: گور «اودیپ» هرجا باشد، آنجا از خشم خدایان در امان خواهد بود؛ از سوی دیگر، بین فرزندان «اودیپ»، بر سر پادشاهی ستیز درمیگیرد، و فرزند بزرگتر، مغلوب و تبعید میشود؛ او که پدر خود «اودیپ» را، از شهر بیرون رانده بود، اکنون برای طلبِ بخشش، نزد پدر میآید و تمنّای گذشت دارد؛ «اودیپ»، فرزند را نمیبخشد، و او را ناامید، باز میگرداند؛ «اودیپ» پیش از مرگ، از پادشاه «آتن» میخواهد، که جای گور او را، از همه پنهان بدارد، و جز به جانشینانش، به کسی نشان ندهد، و آرام میمیرد داستان سوم: «آنتیگونه»: پس از مرگ «اودیپ»، فرزندانش «اته اکلس»، و «پولونیکس»، هر دو به دست هم کشته میشوند؛ «کرئون» فرزند کوچک «اته اکلس» را، به خاک میسپارد، ولی اجازه نمیدهد، جسد «پولونیکس» را، به خاک بسپارند؛ خواهران او «آنتیگونه» و «ایسمینه» تصمیم میگیرند، هرطور شده، جسد برادر را، به خاک بسپارند؛ اندکی بعد، «ایسمنه»، از ترس پادشاه، خواهرش را، تنها رها میکند، و «آنتیگونه» با پذیرش خطر، به تنهایی برادرش را، دفن میکند؛ «کرئون» دستور میدهد، مجازات مرگ، درباره ی «آنتیگونه»، اجرا شود؛ «هایمن»، فرزند «کرئون»، عاشق «آنتیگونه» است، و میکوشد، پدر را، از تصمیم خود، باز دارد؛ «کرئون» خواسته ی فرزند را، نمیپذیرد، و پیشگویی هاتف را نیز، به چیزی نمیخرد؛ «هایمن» نزد «آنتیگونه» میرود؛ «آنتیگونه» خود را، حلق آویز کرده است؛ «هایمن» نیز، دشنه ای در قلب خود، فرو میبرد؛ همسر «کرئون» نیز، خود را میکشد، و بدینگونه، دودمانی فدای استبداد، و خودسری «کرئون» میشود این سه نمایشنامه، در واقع، صحنه های دیگرگونه ی یک ماجرا هستند؛ «اودیپ»، خواهان دانایی است، و عشق به دانایی در وی، چیزی برتر، و بیرون از اراده ی اوست؛ انگیزه ی جستجوی «اودیپ»، برای شناختن راستی، عشق به جماعت است، و آرزوی بهروزی آنان در آن خواسته است؛ نیز شناخت راستی، تقدیر اوست، و پیروزی او، در تسلیم نشدن است، نه در تسلیم کردن نمایش «آنتیگونه»، تأکیدی بر اهمیت عشق، در زندگی جمعی است؛ عشق هرچند موضوعی انفرادیست، اما بدون آن، جامعه، شادابی و حرکت خود را، از دست میدهد؛ زیرا سرچشمه، و انگیزه ی بسیاری از اعمال ما در جامعه، عشق است؛ اخلاق، وامدار عشق است؛ فرمان خدایان، در پرتو عشق، اجرا میشود؛ حکومت، با نیروی عشق، پایدار و سالم میماند؛ تعادل جهان، با عشق تحقّق مییابد؛ «عشق فرزند» به پدر و مادر، «عشق خواهر» به برادر، «عشق زن» به مرد، و برعکس، همگی مضمون اصلی تراژدی (غمنامه)های «سوفوکل» است تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 15/11/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    The Three Theban Pays are the absolute pillar stone of ancient Greek drama, and in my opinion they contain two of the best plays ever written: Oedipus the King and Antigone. Oedipus the King- because sometimes life's a real bitch. Fate is unavoidable in ancient Greek Tragedy. Trying to avoid it will only lead to it, and doing nothing will lead you there too. So if a God tells you that you will die at the hands of your son, and that he will then go on to steal your wife, you’d best do noth The Three Theban Pays are the absolute pillar stone of ancient Greek drama, and in my opinion they contain two of the best plays ever written: Oedipus the King and Antigone. Oedipus the King- because sometimes life's a real bitch. Fate is unavoidable in ancient Greek Tragedy. Trying to avoid it will only lead to it, and doing nothing will lead you there too. So if a God tells you that you will die at the hands of your son, and that he will then go on to steal your wife, you’d best do nothing because it’s going to happen anyway. Any preventative action you take will only lead to the same ending. So, you’re pretty much screwed. You might as well lie down and accept it. The God's are mean. But, nope, if you’re like the King of Thebes you’ll leave your infant son for dead instead. Poor Oedipus. He really didn’t have much chance in life. He could do nothing to intervene with his own destiny, mainly because his tragic flaw is his lack of awareness about his true origins. He hears a rumour of the prophecy told to his farther, so he endeavours to stay away from him. But, in doing so he is pushed ever closer to his real farther. That’s the problem with being abandoned at birth; you just don’t know who is who in the world! There’s some irony in this somewhere. Indeed, it suggests that no free will exists at all because any exertions of the supposed free will lead to the predetermined fate. So every action has been accounted for already. The intended audience may have been aware of these powers but Oedipus and his farther were hapless in their wake. They had to both learn the hard way. Oedipus had to recognise it, and in the process he shattered his life: it made him tear out his very eyes. Now that’s real grief. There’s no wonder Aristotle made this his model for the perfect play because this is masterful. Aristotle’s theory can be used to assist the reader in understanding how the plot contributes to the tragedy. I couldn’t have read tragedy without it. The tragedy is created, in part, by the complexity of its plot which leads towards the catharsis. According to Aristotle’s Poetics the complexity of the plot is established through reversal, recognition and suffering. A simple plot will only establish one of these; therefore, it will have a limited catharsis. The reversal (peritpeteia) is the change of a state of affairs to its opposite, such as the reversal of Oedipus’ identity. The recognition (anaghorsis) is achieved through the acquiring of knowledge, like the knowledge Oedipus gains of his birth. Aristotle argues that an effective plot has its anaghorisis bound up with the peritpeteia. This is because it, “carries with it pity or fear” such as these following lines: "O god- All come true, all busting to light! O light- now let me look my last on you! I stand revealed at last-” (Lines 1305-9) I hope I didn’t lose anyone or bore them to death with my summary of Poetics. The structure is the key; it is everything in delivering the plot. If, in the cathartic moment, the action can evoke suffering through a combination of a reversal of circumstances during a brutally stark recognition, then the ultimate delivery of pity and fear will be achieved. Such is the case with Oedipus. Oedipus’s hamartia, his tragic flaw at the core of his being, is his ignorance, and when the veil is lifted he realises the tragedy of the situation; he realises all too late that fate is unshakable and unconquerable. He has unknowingly committed incest with his mother and murdered his farther, so, like I said, life is a real bitch. Oedipus at Colonus Oedipus has been cursed by fate. After unwittingly killing his farther and marrying his own mother, he was cast out of his own land: he was banished by fate. He is now blind, old and has but only one wish: death. His sister-daughters (children born of incest with his mother) wish to help in this but his son-brothers want him to return to the land of Thebes alive and well. They have heard a new prophecy concerning his fate, and they have grown to fear it. However, as readers of Oedipus the King learnt, trying to change fate only leads to destiny changing the path; ultimately, the destination will always remain the same: there is no escape. Oedipus is resigned to let the wind take him wherever it may go. He has learnt that he has no power. His past remerges, a dangerous past that the world considers criminal. It is one he tried to avoid, but, again, he could never escape from it. King Creon, Oedipus’ taciturn brother in law is especially angry at Oedipus for the death of Jocasta hurt him severely. It's very easy to judge others in such a situation, but as Oedipus retorts: "One thing, answer me just one thing. If, here and now, a man strode up to kill you, you, you self-righteous --- what would you do? investigate whether the murderer were your farther or deal with him straight off? Well I know, as you love your life, you’d pay the killer back, not hunt around for justification. " As a sequel to Oedipus the King and a prequel to Antigone this play is very much the middle of The Three Theban Plays. Oddly, it seems to be read far less than the other two plays, which I think is a bit of a shame. Granted, it lacks the autonomy of the others, but it is just as important in understanding the trilogy. And this is the crux of the play; it is Oedipus’ moment to defend himself, and give voice to his actions which he was not responsible for. At the same time, the plot foreshadows and leads straight into Antigone and explains much about King Creon's choices. In terms of action- I speak of the technical connotations of the word as defined by Aristotle in Poetics- the play is lacking. There is very little in the way of tragic elements. It was only performed after Sophocles’ death when the glory days of Athens had set. The play was a reminder to its audiences of what had been lost, Oedipus served as a reminder of an age gone by, one that would never return. Reading the play today, I see the same sense of departure. This line for example as spoke by the Chorus: “Then it’s the end of Athens, Athens is no more!" I love reading Ancient Greek drama; it is so well crafted; it is straightforward yet complex; it is sophisticated yet bold and bloody. Sort of odd really when considering the fact that all deaths were off stage, but you still get the idea from it. I’d love see some modern reproductions of it live. Antigone Antigone is a real heroine; she stands up for what she believes in. She was faced with a strong dilemma. The law of man, the word of her uncle the king, demands that her brother's body remains unburied in the open with no funeral rights, to be savaged by animals. For King Creon, this is a symbolic justice for a traitor and a rebel, but the laws of the God’s, and the ruling of Antigone’s own mind, demands that she gives him libations (death rights) that all men deserve. She buries the body and faces the consequences of the crime. Creon: And still you had the gall to break this law? Antigone: Of course I did. It wasn't Zeus, not in the least, who made this proclamation-not to me Nor did that justice, dwelling with the gods beneath the earth, ordain such laws for men. Nor did I think your edict had such force that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods. So, like I said she’s a heroine, for standing up against tyranny, but she isn’t the play’s tragic hero: it’s clearly King Creon. Who has the right of this situation? It is easy to brand Creon a tyrant, though to do so overlooks the reasoning behind his actions. In punishing Antigone’s dead brother, her rebellious dead brother, he is sending a political message to those that threaten the peace of Thebes. In reality he is being an effective, albeit harsh, ruler. When his niece breaks his law, he has no choice but to punish her as he would any man. He couldn’t allow her to be an exception to the rule, to do so would be to undermine the law of the land and his politics: it would be to make him a hypocrite. But, to sentence her to death, that’s a little extreme. Thus, Sophocles presents a beautifully conflicted situation. There is no longer a discernible sense of right or wrong, only a thin line of morality that separates a tyrant from a man of justice. And his conviction only gets worse; he refuses to hear what his son and the city (the chorus) think about the situation. He only sees his narrow-minded sense of justice, and ignores the effects it will have on his loved ones. He has no doubts about his actions, and demonstrates the questionable nature of a cold approach to kingship. The laws of man are not always right. Something Creon simply cannot perceive. To his mind, he is morally right, a man of good character and a king of honour. Is this not the most dangerous of leaders? Creon: I will take her down some wild, desolate path never trod by men, and wall her up alive in a rocky vault, and set out short rations, just the measure piety demands to keep the entire city free of defilement. There let her pray to the one god she worships: Death—who knows?—may just reprieveher from death. Or she may learn at last, better late than never, what a waste of breath it is to worship Death. And this is what makes him the play’s tragic hero. His hamartia, his tragic flaw in Aristotle terms, is his severe lack of judgement, and his inability to perceive the wrongness of his decree. The reversal, recognition and suffering come in the form of the priest Tiresias, an old wise man who speaks to the Gods. He tells Creon what will happen if he persists down his current path, and after much resistance, Creon finally relents his folly. But it is far too late. The blood has already been shed. Tragedy has already struck, death has already struck: Creon is left in tatters. It is the hardest of lessons to learn. So what do we learn from this? Greek tragedy was didactical in purpose; it was used as a learning tool, a means of imparting wisdom to the audience. What is Sophocles message? For me it’s quite simple: open your eyes and your heart. Never presume that you are right and an absolute morale authority. For Creon, his realisation came too late. The result was a sacrifice he will never forget, Antigone's death, and the one most readers seem to sympathise with. But I implore you to look further into the play, and consider the full role of Creon. To overlook him is to overlook the point of the work: “All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.” This play is a spectacular piece of work, though I think reading the other two plays helps to elucidate its greatness. For me, this book is one everybody should read at least once in their lifetime.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elle (ellexamines)

    This is how I feel about Antigone: Translation Notes I have read four versions of the Antigone, three versions of Oedipus Rex, and two versions of Oedipus at Colonus, over five years. I don't know why I'm like this either. (Comment your favorite Antigone translations and I'll read them.) Oxford edition, trans. unk (2015): In ninth grade, I read the Theban plays in my English class. I liked them. Antigone, specifically, made a very very large impression on me. I promptly forgot every single thing I This is how I feel about Antigone: Translation Notes I have read four versions of the Antigone, three versions of Oedipus Rex, and two versions of Oedipus at Colonus, over five years. I don't know why I'm like this either. (Comment your favorite Antigone translations and I'll read them.) Oxford edition, trans. unk (2015): In ninth grade, I read the Theban plays in my English class. I liked them. Antigone, specifically, made a very very large impression on me. I promptly forgot every single thing I thought about them. [I have a terrible memory.] So when audible offered a free audio of the plays with a full-cast narration… I went for it. And of course loved it again. Will need to reread these translations to fully retranslate. Audio edition, trans. unk (2018): This audio stars the excellent Jamie Glover as Oedipus and the always-talented Hayley Atwell as Antigone, but casting such as Samantha Bond as Jocasta, Michael Melone as Creon, and Lydia Leonard as Ismene stand out as well. This is the reading upon which I decided perhaps Oedipus the King was very good. Antigonick trans. Anne Carson (2019): More an adaption than a translation, and certainly not my favorite, if only because I love Antigone's original words so much. Worth reading, but after reading Antigone proper. Reviewed here. The Greek Plays edition trans. Frank Nisetich (2020): I loved the biting stychomythia of this translation. Play Reviews for Everything →Oedipus the King← ★★★★★ Oedipus means swollen foot, in reference to his broken feet as a child, but holds a double meaning: Oida means I know, and Eidon means I saw, so the term could also be 'seeing foot'. If only he could see where his feet were going. Seeing, indeed, is the primary tension of the play. One eyewitness has two key details to give: the story of exposing the baby for Laius, and the story of watching a stranger kill Laius on a dark road. What I like about this play is that it is a tragedy where no character has purposefully fucked things up. Every single character — from the later-unsympathetic Creon to the excellently written Jocasta — is sympathetic. It is so upsetting to see it unfold, see these characters have their lives so completely ruined. Around halfway through the play, Jocasta figures it out, and begs Oedipus to stop the process; knowing, but thinking to take it to her grave: he does not take it. Oedipus receives the opportunity to blame it all on Creon and keep his leadership: he does not take it. He is finding the truth for altruism, and will take it to the end. For Oedipus, his recognition and reversal are a nightmare come true, a dream he never thought could occur. I was near tears during Oedipus’ final speech. →Oedipus at Colonus← ★★★★☆ I actually, in hindsight, am not sure I read this in ninth grade. [We were only actually required to read Antigone.] This is the Family Feelings play, as in… the relationship between Antigone and Ismene and Oedipus is upsetting and I don’t like it. Almost all the action of this one is offstage, which makes it far harder to follow; honestly, this feels like a joiner between Oedipus the King and Antigone. I did enjoy the sense of tragedy and the character development. →Antigone← ★★★★★ What I like about Antigone is Antigone. No, that's not quite right. What I like about Antigone is its focus on very different characters as they try to undermine Creon in three very different ways. Acting from honor, from logic, from empathy, the three youth of the royal family protest his decisions: Antigone representing the god’s honor and the woman’s honor; Ismene representing the woman’s honor; Haemon representing the youth’s honor and the city’s honor. The actions of Antigone, Haemon, and Ismene break the heirarchy down, and though by the end of the play, two lie dead, they have taught Creon his lesson. When the tyrant does not listen to those around him, he has nothing, and leaves the dead in his wake. Antigone loves her honor before the gods, and will break any heirarchy, woman or not, to get to it; yet the city is on her side, following her lead. Ismene and Antigone have a fascinating sisterly relationship. The stychomythia (certain kind of meter used for conversation) between Haemon and Creon is one of my favorite scenes in any play I’ve read ever. The 'guard' witnesses two very key events in Antigone's life: he is almost more 'casual', and oddly comedic. He introduces two burials, one scattering of earth, one seemingly divine and done by Antigone. This is not notable on the first readthrough. On the second, the question of who actually does the first burial hits. Notable in the sense of tragic convention is that the chorus is all-male; in this genre, the chorus is generally the same gender as the protagonists, generally of a lower social position, but sympathetic. Though the chorus here is at times kind to Antigone, they are never fully on her side. By the time she gives her death speech, about to walk into her tomb, we know she is truly alone. Antigone is a spectacle to the chorus, as Oedipus once was. Notable Lines (Frank Nisetich translation): ANTIGONE: No dread of what some man might think would ever make me… be guilty before the gods. (457-459) ANTIGONE: And I can’t join in hate, but only in love. (528) ANTIGONE: Your thoughts appealed to some, mine to others. ISMENE: And yet we’re both found guilty, both alike. (558-559) CREON: Rulers own their cities--isn’t that the saying? HAEMON: A fine ruler you’d make, alone, in a desert. CREON: This fellow, it seems, is on the woman’s side. HAEMON: If you’re a woman: it’s you I care for. (738-741) HAEMON: Do you want to talk and talk and never listen? (755) These plays are an excellent look at the nature of humanity, the hypocrisy of us and the fact that we all have our good sides and our bad. I know I will not be ending my love affair with Antigone anytime soon. Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify | Youtube | About |

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

    'Take these things to heart, my son, I warn you. All men make mistakes, it is only human. But once the wrong is done, a man can turn his back on folly, misfortune too, if he tries to make amends, however low he’s fallen, and stops his bullnecked ways. Stubbornness brands you for stupidity – pride is a crime. No, yield to the dead! Never stab the fighter when he’s down. Where’s the glory, killing the dead twice over?” (Tiresias, the blind prophet, to Creon, king of Thebes, uncle of Antigone in ‘Antigone 'Take these things to heart, my son, I warn you. All men make mistakes, it is only human. But once the wrong is done, a man can turn his back on folly, misfortune too, if he tries to make amends, however low he’s fallen, and stops his bullnecked ways. Stubbornness brands you for stupidity – pride is a crime. No, yield to the dead! Never stab the fighter when he’s down. Where’s the glory, killing the dead twice over?” (Tiresias, the blind prophet, to Creon, king of Thebes, uncle of Antigone in ‘Antigone’ ) Three very good decisions led me to finally read the Penguin Classic Edition of Sophocles’ three Theban plays: First and foremost, I have eventually decided a few month ago to take a course in Classical Mythology. This has always been my wish, but as with so many things in life it had been postponed for years. The course did not open Pandora’s box, it has instead enhanced my understanding of literature and art in general and given me new insights of how Classical mythology is part of our cultural legacy. Amongst others we had to read Sophocles’ ‘Oedipus the King’. I knew, somewhere in my house I would find a battered, yellow Reclam edition in German: This work by Sophocles is a set book for almost every high school student here in Zurich. On the spur of a moment I decided, however, to read not only this well-known play, but to add the two other Theban Plays: ‘Antigone’ and ‘Oedipus at Colonus’. This was my second good decision. My third brave decision was to read these plays in an English translation instead of a German one, mostly because I could not find any decent new translation into German. This is how I came into the possession of a brand new copy of the Penguin Classic Edition, translated by Robert Fagles (Professor of Comparative Literature, Emeritus, at Princeton University) with introductions and notes by Bernard Knox (Director Emeritus of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington). As so often with Penguin Classics editions, I fell instantly in love with the cover, depicting Gustave Doré’s ‘The Enigma’ (Musée d’Orsay, Paris): I cannot praise highly enough this edition and its translation. The beautiful and simple language is easy to understand even for non-native English speakers; the accompanying notes are clear and require only a basic knowledge of Greek mythology. They help to enjoy even more the compelling writing and subtle irony of the plays. If you have read ‘Oedipus the King’ years ago and are now ready to revisit this work, give it a try and read all three Theban plays by Sophocles. They consist of ‘Antigone’ (written ca. 442 B.C.), ‘Oedipus the King’ (ca. 430 B.C.) and ‘Oedipus at Colonus’ (produced after Sophocles death in 401 B.C.). Besides the beautifully structured ‘Oedipus the King’ the two other Theban plays about the idealistic Antigone and Oedipus in exile are no less captivating and have not lost their attractiveness. As all Greek dramas, Sophocles’ tragedies are based on myths that have been passed on orally. Bernard Knox explains: “The stuff from which the tragic poet made his plays was not contemporary reality but myth. And yet it did reflect contemporary reality, did so perhaps in terms more authoritative because they were not colored by the partisan emotions of the time, terms which were in fact so authorative that they remain meaningful even for us today.”(p.22) One of the best examples that these stories have the same powerful meaning as 2400 years ago is the quote mentioned at the beginning of this review by Tiresias to Creon. Nevertheless, I am aware that the modern reader of today has another approach to these works than the Athenian male viewer had (women apparently were rarely admitted to the spectacles). During my course I read several plays not only by Sophocles but also by Aeschylus and Euripides. Even though I love Greek Mythology and I am very much attracted to the Classical Antiquity, it has often been difficult for me to digest the misogyny of Classical cultures. Greek men do not seem to have been very comfortable around women. In several myths women are depicted as malicious, monstrous or even eerie. Monsters are often female. It seems that Antigone is a rare exception. Her integrity and humanity, which Sophocles describes so masterfully, makes her sympathetic to the modern reader. Oedipus might have been the hero of the male Athenian viewer (*), but I think Oedipus’ daughter Antigone is my personal hero of the stories. Let me thus conclude with a quote by Bernard Knox about my favourite character in the plays: “…her courage and steadfastness are a gleam of light; she is the embodiment of the only consolation tragedy can offer – that in certain heroic natures unmerited suffering and death can be met with a greatness of soul which, because it is purely human, brings honor to us all.” (p.53) (*)Heroes in Greek mythology were not basically good or moral persons; they could be quite the opposite. A hero could have a divine parent or being extraordinary in some other ways, he did not have to be a good man.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Vartika

    I was rather flippant about Greek drama throughout my time at university (much to the chagrin of every single professor teaching the unit), but even I had to concede to the immense talent of Sophocles: to cast a myth like Oedipus' on stage with such eloquence, and without leaning on its sensationalism, is inconceivable elsewhere in the theatrical tradition—unsurprising, then, that his Theban Plays have today become authoritative sources, rather than mere tellings, of the fate of the House of Cad I was rather flippant about Greek drama throughout my time at university (much to the chagrin of every single professor teaching the unit), but even I had to concede to the immense talent of Sophocles: to cast a myth like Oedipus' on stage with such eloquence, and without leaning on its sensationalism, is inconceivable elsewhere in the theatrical tradition—unsurprising, then, that his Theban Plays have today become authoritative sources, rather than mere tellings, of the fate of the House of Cadmus. In his acclaimed and unerringly beautiful translation, Robert Fagles reclaims for the three plays—Antigone, Oedipus the King, and Oedipus at Colonus, arranged in order of composition rather than narrative chronology—a sense of crisp, lucid triumph, revealing their timelessness while also honouring the relevance of their politics for the Athenian audiences they were originally intended for. Despite being about a hundred generations too late a witness, I found myself completely immersed within the pages of these ancient tragedies. Antigone (c. 441 BCE) Antigone au chevet de Polynices by Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant (1868) My favourite of the three, Antigone is a work of astounding depth— masterful tragedy dealing with familial love, treachery, and morality in the face of despotic rule. Rebellion, too, is an important theme, be it Antigone's breaking the ruler's decree or Haemon opposing his own father. The protagonist's heroic temper, her defiance of authority, and her willingness to give up life and love in order to fulfill her moral duty has led to many interpreting this as a feminist play. But beyond that, Antigone is also a complex exploration of our notions of 'right' and 'wrong'. Sophocles does not see his characters' actions as purely black and white: we get a glimpse of the true motivations governing Creon's degree as well as Antigone's transgression, and while we are explicitly told that Creon was wrong and see him suffer, it is only for his proud renunciation of divine power and familial ties—neither the Chorus nor Sophocles himself seem to find fault with his statecraft. Meanwhile, no affirmation of Antigone's rightness is ever made. However, unlike Creon, she does not betray the loyalties she spoke for, and dies believing in the rightness of her actions even if others do not seem to. While her death is part of the curse against the House of Cadmus—the same prophecy that led to the ruin of her father, Oedipus, and drove her brothers Etiocles and Polynices to kill each other—it is also an act of heroism, of upholding the laws of divinity and nature and standing up against the barbaric. Thus, Antigone explores the ideas of predestination and agency in tandem with each other, a concern dominant in Greek drama in general and the Theban plays in particular. Oedipus the King (c. 430-426 BCE) Blind Oedipus Commending his Children by Bénigne Gagneraux (1784) Perhaps the most prominent exploration of fate and free will in Sophoclean tragedy takes place in Oedipus the King: while he is destined to commit the acts of patricide and incest that we know him for, it is through his own determined, willful pursuit that this terrible truth comes to light and becomes known. Most importantly, however, the play illustrates divine indictment against the hubris of Oedipus and Jocasta, who believe that they can subvert the prophecy through their actions. That this play is focused on the discovery of Oedipus's sins rather than the sins themselves serves to highlight this latter aspect of the story (this, according to Bernard Knox, is rooted in contemporary politics; Sophocles wrote this play asserting the superiority of divine will at a time when the institution of the Oracle—and thereby the validity of the gods themselves—was under public fire). While this notion of predestination in the original myth was transformed and appropriated by the Freudian lens in the early 20th century; Oedipus the King transformed modern drama by presenting an existential model for stories dealing with our own terror of the unknown, uncontrollable future and the idea that our progress; Like Oedipus' success; will unwittingly bring us to our doom. All of this, moreover, allows Sophocles to master the art of dramatic irony, which is in many ways the lifeblood of this play. It is no wonder that Oedipus the King has long been considered the most distinguished of all Greek tragedy—enough can never be said about a play like this, one so deeply rooted in our exploration of the complexities of art, society, and the human condition. Oedipus at Colonus (c. 406 BCE) Oedipus at Colonus by Jean-Antoine-Théodore Giroust (1788) Written at the age of 90, Oedipus at Colonus was Sophocles' last play, hyperaware of the spectre of impending war and destruction loomed over Athens at the time. It has the least mythical precedent of all Theban plays, and is the tragedian's valedictory reminder of the glory, benevolence, and fame of Athens. This is also the play where Oedipus, whose terrible ruin is part of a divine curse on his bloodline, is finally redeemed, by yet another prophecy: in his death, Oedipus is raised from mortal to hero, he is also able to avenge the wrongs committed unto him by his sons Etiocles and Polynices and his other kinsmen in Thebes. Here, Oedipus expresses his helplessness as an instrument of fate, and thereby achieves glory: although he is still polluted, he is extricated of blame and dies a painless death. His grave, as per the redemptive prophecy, becomes the site of a war bringing doom to Thebes; that has wronged him; and Victory to Athens, whose ruler, the noble Theseus, saves him (it is through Theseus that Sophocles affirms the spirit of Athens at its peak). This is also a far more mystical play than its predecessors, dealing with furies and rituals, but this only enhances the effect of the hero being lifted to a position that is more than human—reverential, and almost holy. While Oedipus at Colonus is only the second play concerning the House of Cadmus in Thebes if a narrative chronology is considered, its thematic concerns render it the perfect end to Sophocles' Theban triad. While fate has mark Oedipus with tragedy, and the end of his bloodline is known, this play manages to inject in this sagas a communion with the gods, and thus, a note of hope.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    Alas, alas, what misery to be wise when wisdom profits nothing! Great books do not reveal themselves all at once. Old classics must be revisited from time to time, at different stages of life, in order to experience the many resonant frequencies of the work. This time around I chose to listen to these Theban plays as an audiobook, with a full cast; and it was far preferable to the mute page. Reading, listening to, or watching the Greek plays may be the nearest we get to time travel. The works Alas, alas, what misery to be wise when wisdom profits nothing! Great books do not reveal themselves all at once. Old classics must be revisited from time to time, at different stages of life, in order to experience the many resonant frequencies of the work. This time around I chose to listen to these Theban plays as an audiobook, with a full cast; and it was far preferable to the mute page. Reading, listening to, or watching the Greek plays may be the nearest we get to time travel. The works immerse us in a foreign world. What struck me most was the Greek attitude towards freedom and fate. Shakespearean tragedy is reliant on human choice. As A.C. Bradley notes, the tragedy is always specific to the individual, to the extent that the tragedy of one play would be impossible for the protagonist of another. Put Hamlet in Othello’s place, or vice versa, and he would make short work of the play’s problem. The tragedy in a Greek play is, by contrast, inevitable and universal. By the time that the curtain is raised in Oedipus Rex, the Theban king has long ago sealed his doom. There is nothing special about Oedipus that marks him for a tragic fate. His tragedy could have befallen a Hamlet or an Othello just as readily as an Oedipus. This changes the entire emotional atmosphere. Whereas in a Shakespearean tragedy we feel a certain amount of dramatic tension as the protagonists attempt to avert crisis, in Greek tragedy there is instead a feeling of being swept along by an invisible, inexorable force—divine and mysterious. It is animated by a far more pessimistic philosophy: that honest, noble, and wise people who do nothing wrong can be dragged into the pit of misery by an inscrutable destiny. As a result, the plays can sometimes engender a feeling of mystery or even of vague mysticism, as we consider ourselves to be the mere playthings of forces beyond all control and understanding. Characters rise to power in such a way that we credit their virtues for their success; and yet their precipitate fall shows that there are other forces at play. Life can certainly feel this way at times, as we are buffeted about, lifted up, and cast down in a way that seems little connected to our own actions. For this reason, I think that the fatalistic pessimism of these plays is both moving and, at times, even consoling. Of the three, the most artistically perfect is Oedipus Rex, which Sophocles wrote at the height of his career. Antigone, the last play, was actually written first; and Oedipus at Colonus was written over thirty years, at the very end of Sophocles’ life. Though arguably the worst of the three, Antigone is the most thematically interesting. It pits two ethical concepts against one another with intense force, specifically different sorts of loyalty. Is it better to be loyal to one’s family, to the gods, to the state, or to the ruler? Creon’s interdiction, though vengeful and petty, is understandable when one remembers that Polynices is a traitor responsible for an attack on his homeland that doubtless cost many citizens’ lives. Creon could have justified his decree as a discouragement of future disloyalty. Antigone believes that duty to family transcends the duty of a citizen, and the events justify this belief. It must be admitted, however, that this ethical question is muddled by the religious nature of central issue. Few people nowadays can believe that burial rites are important enough to merit self-sacrifice and civil disobedience. When the superstitious element is removed, Antigone’s ethical superiority seems questionable at best. Certainly there are many cases when loyalty to the family can be distinctly unethical. If a sister sheltered a brother who just escaped imprisonment for murder, I think this would be an unequivocally immoral act. But since burial does not involve help or harm to anyone, the ethical question becomes largely symbolic—if no less interesting. Even if the emotional import of these plays has been somewhat dulled by the passing years, they remain amazingly alive and direct. The power of these plays is such that, even now, when the Greek gods have passed into harmless myth, here we can still feel the sense of awe and terror in the face of a divine order that passes beyond understanding. It would take a long time for theater to again reach such heights.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    This Robert Fagles translation is beautiful--far superior to other versions I've read (Fitts/Fitzgerald or David Greene's, for instance). The language is vibrant and compelling, an important asset for reading drama on the page. If you've not read Sophocles since a forced-and-indifferent slog during high school, I'd encourage you to rediscover it in a better light with this translation. Highly recommended. This was my first time reading all three "Oedipus plays" in succession, and I appreciated th This Robert Fagles translation is beautiful--far superior to other versions I've read (Fitts/Fitzgerald or David Greene's, for instance). The language is vibrant and compelling, an important asset for reading drama on the page. If you've not read Sophocles since a forced-and-indifferent slog during high school, I'd encourage you to rediscover it in a better light with this translation. Highly recommended. This was my first time reading all three "Oedipus plays" in succession, and I appreciated that this volume presents them chronologically by Sophocles' date of composition rather than sequentially according to their place in the Theban myth. It's helpful to think of the three plays not as a "trilogy," but rather three separate tellings of the myth. This is how the Greek audiences would have seen them, and this arrangement also serves to better highlight Sophocles' development as a playwright. The introductory essays by Bernard Knox are also a joy to read for those who are interested, but they're by no means a requirement for the general reader. The plays will stand on their own merit, with or without the introductory material. (At the very least, though, I'd suggest reading the brief summary of the Theban myths on pp. 27-29 for background if you're not already familiar with the story.)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brett C

    I enjoyed rereading this set of plays. This edition sets the stage by giving an introduction before each play. The plays dive into the themes of fate, guilt, civil disobedience and family ties, and other historical Greek motifs. There were text notes after the plays and a Greek persons/mythological/geographical glossary to help with the who/what/where questions. I enjoyed rediscovering this trilogy for a second time. I originally read them when I was in high school and remember them being intere I enjoyed rereading this set of plays. This edition sets the stage by giving an introduction before each play. The plays dive into the themes of fate, guilt, civil disobedience and family ties, and other historical Greek motifs. There were text notes after the plays and a Greek persons/mythological/geographical glossary to help with the who/what/where questions. I enjoyed rediscovering this trilogy for a second time. I originally read them when I was in high school and remember them being interesting. I would recommend it for anyone to read. Thanks!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Pink

    Wonderful. I know we need to read these in modern translations, but how amazing is it that we still have works from ancient Greece? These stories are not at all boring, or dated, or difficult to read. Pick the translation that suits you, whether poetry or prose or somewhere in-between and dive into some incredible drama.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Of happiness the crown and chiefest part Is wisdom, to hold the gods in awe. This is the law That, seeing the stricken heart Of pride brought down, We learn when we are old. I felt an urge to return to the stories that set my mind on fire, way down the tunnels of time, and I chose blindly, or so I thought. Enjoying them even more today than I did the first two dozen times I read them, I nonetheless wondered why these plays ... and why now? In the middle of reading half a dozen other books, I still f Of happiness the crown and chiefest part Is wisdom, to hold the gods in awe. This is the law That, seeing the stricken heart Of pride brought down, We learn when we are old. I felt an urge to return to the stories that set my mind on fire, way down the tunnels of time, and I chose blindly, or so I thought. Enjoying them even more today than I did the first two dozen times I read them, I nonetheless wondered why these plays ... and why now? In the middle of reading half a dozen other books, I still felt restless, and kept circling the bookcases, looking for something more satisfying. If ever there was a time to read, and understand Greek tragedy, it is now, given how the latest political events are shaping our world. In a time fraught with willing blindness, much as Oedipus himself adopts an unwillingness to see the truth before him, these plays are a reminder of the dangers that can ensue when we choose not to see what is so plainly before us. The three plays combined seem to ask the same question: what is the duty of the citizen in the state: to uphold those laws imposed upon them by one man's invention, in The State, be that man ever so stubborn, or so wrong; or to listen to the heart and uphold the greater laws of Nature, and inherently, Humanity. It is a push-pull of the heart and mind and not so easily resolved as it would seem; and, because we are not gods, the right answer, The Truth, often comes too late, as it did with Creon. Is there a time, ever, in humanity, when the prophecies were heeded in time? Or are we doomed to repeat this process, to the very end of time itself. Not even Sophocles can offer an answer on that one.

  11. 5 out of 5

    WhatIReallyRead

    When we face such things the less we say, the better So my review will be brief. Picking this up I was quite a bit intimidated: 3 ancient Greek plays in English translation? I nearly expected not to understand anything at all or barely managing to follow the story. I worried in vain. The whole time Sophocles made me go like this: When we face such things the less we say, the better So my review will be brief. Picking this up I was quite a bit intimidated: 3 ancient Greek plays in English translation? I nearly expected not to understand anything at all or barely managing to follow the story. I worried in vain. The whole time Sophocles made me go like this:

  12. 4 out of 5

    Perry

    Ignorance of the Pa is No Defense Mythical King Oedipus comes to the throne after unknowingly killing his pa. He later marries the woman who turns out to be his ma. In a brilliant and still-influential turn of irony, all the action in Oedipus the King occurs on the way he discovers that, in attempting to avoid his prophesied fate, he carries it out. To atone, despite the fact that his appalling marriage to and bedding of his mother were acts committed in ignorance, he blinds himself with needles. A Ignorance of the Pa is No Defense Mythical King Oedipus comes to the throne after unknowingly killing his pa. He later marries the woman who turns out to be his ma. In a brilliant and still-influential turn of irony, all the action in Oedipus the King occurs on the way he discovers that, in attempting to avoid his prophesied fate, he carries it out. To atone, despite the fact that his appalling marriage to and bedding of his mother were acts committed in ignorance, he blinds himself with needles. A tragedy that, thanks in small part to Freud, is, to this day, known and studied worldwide.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Langford

    3.5**** rounded up Money! Money's the curse of man, none greater. That's what wrecks cities, banishes men from homes, Tempts and deludes the most well-meaning soul, Pointing out the way to infamy and shame. At 176 pages and consisting of 3 plays I was able to read this in one sitting (which never happens to me!). After reading “Greek Tragedy” the other day- one of the plays was Oedipus Rex (or known in this book as Oedipus the King) and I was keen to find out more of what happened after the events 3.5**** rounded up Money! Money's the curse of man, none greater. That's what wrecks cities, banishes men from homes, Tempts and deludes the most well-meaning soul, Pointing out the way to infamy and shame. At 176 pages and consisting of 3 plays I was able to read this in one sitting (which never happens to me!). After reading “Greek Tragedy” the other day- one of the plays was Oedipus Rex (or known in this book as Oedipus the King) and I was keen to find out more of what happened after the events in this first play. Luckily Sophocles’ “The Theban Plays” details this. In Oedipus at Colonus we get to see what became of the exiled and, now blind, Oedipus as he travels with his daughter, Antigone, from place to place. This play also mentions (and features) Oedipus’ children by Jacosta and what has happened to them: Antigone the faithful helper, Ismene his loyal spy, and then the two sons fighting for the crown of Thebes: Eteocles the current ruler of Thebes and Polynices- the exiled brother seeking vengeance and control of the throne. This play was interesting as we get to see what became of Oedipus after the first play and how his children developed/his relationship with them. The third play is Antigone. This is set after Oedipus has died and what happens to the next generation of this family line (of course this is a tragedy so expect a downfall). This focuses particularly on Antigone who is ruled by her conscience regardless of law and the consequences of defying King Creon- a very prideful King. I enjoyed the Antigone tragedy as it was great to see her stream of consciousness and doing what she believes in. This also focuses largely on Creon and his rule of “it’s my way, or the highway” style- which of course has consequences. While I would’ve this the full 4**** as I really enjoyed them- my copy of this book just did not have the notes that I needed for the plays to fully make sense. Some points I had to pick up my phone to research what a line was referring to and this was made especially difficult by the “Chorus” of the play which could be difficult to understand. Having to pick up my phone to research some things took out some of the enjoyment of the play for me. If this book (translation) expanded on its notes (like with the “Greek Tragedy” book) it would’ve been a much nicer reading experience for me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marquise

    Oedipus the King was the first Greek tragedy I read in my life, when I was still of a single-digit school age and not exactly because it was compulsory reading for my class (who wants to inflict uninentional incest on young children, anyhow?). I don't recall how old I was, besides too young, nor the exact circumstances that led me to pick up an "adult" book, but I do recall the copy belonged to an older cousin of mine who was definitely reading it for school, and that I also read Homer's two epi Oedipus the King was the first Greek tragedy I read in my life, when I was still of a single-digit school age and not exactly because it was compulsory reading for my class (who wants to inflict uninentional incest on young children, anyhow?). I don't recall how old I was, besides too young, nor the exact circumstances that led me to pick up an "adult" book, but I do recall the copy belonged to an older cousin of mine who was definitely reading it for school, and that I also read Homer's two epics round the same time. No, I wasn't traumatised. No, I don't recall being grossed out of my young wits by the amount of age-inappropriate content. No, I didn't find the story disturbing at all. No, I didn't have nightmares, and didn't remember the plot for long after. Yes, it's probably behind my grown-up tolerance for the likes of House Lannister. Ahem! More seriously, I never read the entire trilogy until now. Mostly because I already knew what was coming after the first play, and that more or less spoilt it for me. But currently I'm on a Big Three Tragedians reading binge, and it was Sophocles' turn. Looking in my shelves, turns out I've hoarded about seven different translations of his plays, from which I selected Robert Fagles as the best of the lot after sample-reading the others (Bagg and Kitto are next for the top three, by the way). Did I like the two other plays that complete the Oedipan cycle, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone? Yes! Definitely yes, it's the only trilogy that got 5 stars for all three in a row, despite not being my favourite drama plot. It's too good to rate lower, in my opinion. And seeing the quality, it made me wish Sophocles' complete take on the House of Atreus hadn't been lost. As a curious observation, there's an interesting little detail here: Sophocles chose to have Oedipus get divine compensation for his tragic fate upon death, by an ending that looked similar to biblical tales of similar tone, and also reminded me somewhat of J. R. R. Tolkien's Túrin, another tragically cursed character also driven to unintentional incest by forces beyond his control. Very interesting! What it is, I won't be telling, just do read it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I thoroughly enjoyed this translation of Sophocles Theban plays. Robert Fagles placed the plays in the order written, rather than in their dramatic chronology. At first I thought this was strange, but I followed his lead and read 'Antigone' first. Now, after reading Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus, I have a much greater feeling for Antigone's suffering and a much better understanding of Creon's perspective as well. Now I'm ready to re-read Antigone better armed with the facts of their re I thoroughly enjoyed this translation of Sophocles Theban plays. Robert Fagles placed the plays in the order written, rather than in their dramatic chronology. At first I thought this was strange, but I followed his lead and read 'Antigone' first. Now, after reading Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus, I have a much greater feeling for Antigone's suffering and a much better understanding of Creon's perspective as well. Now I'm ready to re-read Antigone better armed with the facts of their respective histories. Beyond that, what can I say about Sophocles? He treats these myths with genius skills, contemporary mastery of his times and a deep understanding of his fellow Athenians. An amazing accomplishment and an important work for any serious student of drama or literature to read deeply and repeatedly. The Thug perspective: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMD18... *************** 2015 reread: Everything I said above and then some. The more Greek drama I read, the more I understand the sources and obsessions of western literature.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    *Note: I only read Oedipus Rex and Antigone, not Oedipus at Colonus. There is literally nothing I could tell you about these plays that you don't already know from the thousands of books and movies that have referenced or been influenced by Oedipus ever since it was first performed. Four stars for overall story and dramatic themes, two stars because I didn't find it a very engaging or enjoyable read, averaged out to a nice three. Five stars for literary importance, though. The self-fulfilling prop *Note: I only read Oedipus Rex and Antigone, not Oedipus at Colonus. There is literally nothing I could tell you about these plays that you don't already know from the thousands of books and movies that have referenced or been influenced by Oedipus ever since it was first performed. Four stars for overall story and dramatic themes, two stars because I didn't find it a very engaging or enjoyable read, averaged out to a nice three. Five stars for literary importance, though. The self-fulfilling prophecy is one of my favourite plot devices, and Oedipus delivers a shockingly good one (and it's more than the fact that he bangs his mum, for those of you who haven't read it). Very complex and interesting. I also love the theme of destiny and free will (which are also explored further in Antigone). Damn, did those Greeks love to torture their heroes.

  17. 4 out of 5

    K.

    Alternate title: in which everyone stabs or hangs themselves. Seriously, this book features a hell of a lot of suicide. And I get it - finding out that you've been banging your son for the past 15-20 years can't be a pleasant experience. But this just ended up feeling repetitive to me. The biggest problem with this one for me, I suspect, is that all the action in the story takes place off stage. And I totally understand why that's the case, but it means that all the reader/viewer gets is recaps Alternate title: in which everyone stabs or hangs themselves. Seriously, this book features a hell of a lot of suicide. And I get it - finding out that you've been banging your son for the past 15-20 years can't be a pleasant experience. But this just ended up feeling repetitive to me. The biggest problem with this one for me, I suspect, is that all the action in the story takes place off stage. And I totally understand why that's the case, but it means that all the reader/viewer gets is recaps of what's been happening off stage, and frankly? It dragged. Antigone was probably the most interesting of the three plays for me, but even that wasn't the most fascinating subject matter. So I appreciate them for their historical merit and value. But I won't be rereading them in a hurry.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    So... not over-rated. Fagles' translation is solid, much clearer than his Aeschylus, though I actually prefer the opacity he brought to that text. Of course, that might have been in Aeschylus. I will never learn Greek well enough to tell. Antigone was the earliest of these plays, though the last within the narrative. I can't help but read it with my Hegel glasses on: the clash between Creon and Antigone is an example of a failed conceptual grasp of the world, in which the claims on us of family/ So... not over-rated. Fagles' translation is solid, much clearer than his Aeschylus, though I actually prefer the opacity he brought to that text. Of course, that might have been in Aeschylus. I will never learn Greek well enough to tell. Antigone was the earliest of these plays, though the last within the narrative. I can't help but read it with my Hegel glasses on: the clash between Creon and Antigone is an example of a failed conceptual grasp of the world, in which the claims on us of family/tradition/ancient gods cannot be accommodated by our living in larger, civic communities. Divine law and human law sometimes do not go together, but only a tyrant would insist on hewing to the latter alone. Removing the Hegel glasses, I can see that Creon, to his credit, does change his mind. But this being Greece, by then it's all too late. The 'lesson', if you like, is simply that one has to exercise excellent judgment in these matters. This question of judgment works through the Oedipus plays, as well; each tyrant (Oedipus in OK, Creon in OC) fails to use good judgment; the good king Theseus does exercise it, and thus Athens rules etc etc... I know we're 'meant' to think that these plays are really about always bowing down to the gods and accepting fate, but that just doesn't square with what actually happens: Athens succeeds because of Theseus's wisdom just as much as his piety; Thebes will eventually fall because of its kings' folly just as much as their impiety. In OK, Oedipus has the chorus's support in his argument with Tiresias, because Oedipus's defeat of the Sphinx acts as proof of his regality; but when he accuses Creon without evidence, they give up on him... because by acting without evidence, he shows poor judgment. And so on. The best play for reading is easily Oedipus the King, which is horrifying and glorious in equal measure. Also, if anyone out there knows of a good book on Tiresias, let me know. As for Knox's introductory essays, they're not particularly thrilling. There's too much plot-summary (good news for freshmen, I guess), and his insights are so skewed ("these plays aren't depressing! They're about how we do have some control over our lives!") that it's hard to take him seriously. but they're still worth reading.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Monika

    Sadness seems to be a constant presence in my reading life these days. The didacticism and the role fate plays in Greek tragedies, I thought, were not my forte, but sylphs are the proof, how deeply I am in love with them now. The Theban Plays has been a great start for Greek tragedies. The helplessness and the doomed lives consistently made their presence felt. The Theban Plays is essentially a collection of three plays by Sophocles: King Oedipus, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone (sequentially). W Sadness seems to be a constant presence in my reading life these days. The didacticism and the role fate plays in Greek tragedies, I thought, were not my forte, but sylphs are the proof, how deeply I am in love with them now. The Theban Plays has been a great start for Greek tragedies. The helplessness and the doomed lives consistently made their presence felt. The Theban Plays is essentially a collection of three plays by Sophocles: King Oedipus, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone (sequentially). When I started reading the plays, with the help of a background of Greek theatre that I had, I was transported to Sophocles' time. I was one of the audiences in Dionysia and by Jove, it was the best reading experience for me as far as reading a play is concerned. Perhaps this is the reason why a background study is so important. It adds on to our reading experience. Coming back to the plays, in Greek tragedies, fate plays a very important role. If an oracle tells that a person is doomed, no power in the world can rescue that person from his (her) fate. Action or no action, fate ultimately prevails, and human beings have no say in it. Similar is the case with Oedipus. An oracle tells that he will kill his father and marry his mother. Hence begins a journey that most of us are quite aware of. 

  20. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Chaikin

    42. Sophocles I : Oedipus The King; Oedipus at Colonus; Antigone (The Complete Greek Tragedies) published: 1954 (my copy is a 33rd printing from 1989) format: 206 page Paperback acquired: May 30 from a Half-Price Books read: July 3-4 rating: 4½ Each play had a different translator - Oedipus the King (circa 429 bce) - translated by David Grene c1942 - Oedipus at Colonus (written by 406 bce, performed 401 bce) - translated by Robert Fitzgerald c1941 - Antigone (by 441 bce) - translated by Eliz 42. Sophocles I : Oedipus The King; Oedipus at Colonus; Antigone (The Complete Greek Tragedies) published: 1954 (my copy is a 33rd printing from 1989) format: 206 page Paperback acquired: May 30 from a Half-Price Books read: July 3-4 rating: 4½ Each play had a different translator - Oedipus the King (circa 429 bce) - translated by David Grene c1942 - Oedipus at Colonus (written by 406 bce, performed 401 bce) - translated by Robert Fitzgerald c1941 - Antigone (by 441 bce) - translated by Elizabeth Wyckoff c1954 Greek tragedy can fun. After all those rigid Aeschylus plays, that is the lesson of Sophocles. The drama within the dialogue is always dynamic, and sometimes really terrific. I had to really get in the mood to enjoy reading a play by Aeschylus, otherwise I might be bored by the long dull choral dialogues. These three plays are all different and all from different points in Sophocles career, but they each drew me on their own. Although they are all on the same story line, they were not written together, or in story order. Antigone was first, and was written when Sophocles was still trying to make a name for himself (vs Aeschylus). Oedipus the King came next, when Sophocles was well established. Oedipus at Colonus was apparently written just before Sophocles death, at about age 90. It wasn't performed until several years after his death. All this seems to show in the plays. Antigone having the sense of an author trying to make a striking impression. Oedipus the King carrying the sense of a master playwright with it's dramatic set ups. Oedipus at Colonus is slower, and more reflective. And two of the main characters are elderly. Oedipus the King This is simply a striking play, from the opening lines. In line 8, Oedipus characterizes himself to children suppliants as "I Oedipus who all men call the Great." It shows his confidence, but, as Thebes is in the midst of a suffering famine, it also shows outrageous arrogance - it's the only clear sing of this in the play. He is otherwise a noble character throughout. Of course he doesn't know what's coming. In the course of the play he will learn, slowly, his own tragic story - that a man he had killed in a highway fight was his father, and that his wife, and mother of his four children is also his own mother. As each person resists giving him yet another dreadful piece of information, he gets angry at them, threatening them in disbelief at their hesitancy. His denial lasts longer than that of Jocasta, his mother/wife, who leaves the play in dramatic fashion herself, first trying to stop the information flow, and then giving Oedipus a cryptic goodbye. And even as his awareness gets worse and worse, he cannot step out of character, the show-off i-do-everything-right ruler, but must continue to pursue the truth to it bitter fullness. Oedipus at Colonus A mature play in many ways. It's slow, thoughtful, has much ambiguity, and has many touching moments. The opening scene is memorable, where a blind Oedipus moves through the wilderness only with the close guidance of his daughter, Antigone. ... Who will be kind to Oedipus this evening And give the wanderer charity? Though he ask little and receive still less, It is sufficient:                                           Suffering and time, Vast time, have been instructors in contentment, Which kingliness teaches too.                                           But now, child, If you can see a place we might rest, ...It's interesting to see Creon, Jocasta's brother, turn bad. But it's more interesting to see Oedipus have a bitter side to him. He maintains his noble character, and that is the point of the play—he is hero because he never did anything bad intentionally, and yet he bears full punishment. But he also makes some interesting calls, essentially setting up a future war between his Thebes and Athens. And, Antigone is striking too. She saves Oedipus critically several times through her advice or her speech. While sacrificing herself and maintaining real affection for Oedipus, she is also shrewd, stepping forward boldly and changing the atmosphere. Antigone This play takes place immediately after what Aeschylus covered in The Seven Against Thebes. Polyneices has attacked Thebes with his Argive army, and been repulsed by his brother Eteocles. Both are sons of Oedipus and they have killed each other in the battle. Creon is now ruler. He is a stiff ruler. Despite much warning, he refuses to listen to popular opinion, instead threatening it to silence (a clear political point is being made). But the problems start when he refuses to give his attacker Polyneices a proper burial. He threatens death on anyone who does try to bury him. Antigone openly defies this rule, setting up the play's drama. It's an extreme tragedy with a hamlet-like ending where practically everyone dies. I felt there was less here than in the other two plays, but yet there is still a lot. And it's still fun. Overall I don't imagine citizens of Thebes liked these plays. There is an unspoken sense of noble Athen poking fun its neighbor throughout. But, as it's not Athens, they give the playwright freedom to work in otherwise dangerous political points - and those are clearly there. But, mostly, these were fun plays. They don't need to be read as a trilogy. They were not meant that way, despite the plot-consistency. Each is independent. There are four more plays by Sophocles. I'm actually going to save them and start Euripides next. Because I think Sophocles is something to look forward to and that might push me through the next bunch.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    Thing I like the most about Sophocles is his openness regarding darker fierceer aspects of human nature and the vile consequences,even if its the kings who r being unreasonable (read tyrants) he explicitly calls them out on it unlike many other ancient "king-pleasers", also I loved his love for his own city. Antigone is probably one of my most fvrt stubborn famme fatale characters, well what can you do, like father like daughter! It never ceases to amaze me though that all these ancient times mo Thing I like the most about Sophocles is his openness regarding darker fierceer aspects of human nature and the vile consequences,even if its the kings who r being unreasonable (read tyrants) he explicitly calls them out on it unlike many other ancient "king-pleasers", also I loved his love for his own city. Antigone is probably one of my most fvrt stubborn famme fatale characters, well what can you do, like father like daughter! It never ceases to amaze me though that all these ancient times moral values pay so much attention to the care of the Dead bodies, and such nominal value to saving the living from turning into dead bodies in the first place. (Not saying that "modern" civilisations care much about the living). Will read again some time soon...

  22. 4 out of 5

    sologdin

    Nutshell: dude screws his mother in order to give psychoanalysis a set of master narratives. Not a true trilogy, and written out of the order of this presentation, these texts commence from the unlikely proposition that Oedipus is somehow guilty for having scum parents--for the fact that "before three days were out / after his birth King Laius pierced his ankles / and by the hands of others cast him forth / upon a pathless hillside" (Oedipus Rex ll. 717-20) and thereafter, not knowing his father, Nutshell: dude screws his mother in order to give psychoanalysis a set of master narratives. Not a true trilogy, and written out of the order of this presentation, these texts commence from the unlikely proposition that Oedipus is somehow guilty for having scum parents--for the fact that "before three days were out / after his birth King Laius pierced his ankles / and by the hands of others cast him forth / upon a pathless hillside" (Oedipus Rex ll. 717-20) and thereafter, not knowing his father, killed him in apparent self-defense. Oedipus has no problem, it seems, believing "Was I not born evil? / Am I not utterly unclean?" (op. cit. ll. 822-23), insofar as "I and no other have so cursed myself. And I pollute the bed of him I killed" (id. ll. 820-21). The action of the play itself begins in medias res with the proposition that Thebes suffers:A blight is on the fruitful plants of the earth, A blight is on the cattle in the fields, a blight is on our women that no children are born to them. (id. ll. 25-28) This is immediately recognizable as the locus classicus of the fantasy of demographics, the ideological trans-genre concerned with irrational fears regarding biopolitical management of populations, most recently and stunningly articulated in Scott Bakker's Second Apocalypse books as a 'wombplague.' It is not for his own fault, but rather in a representative capacity, that Oedipus steps into liability for crime, to the extent that he "groans for city and myself and you at once" (id. l. 62), and likewise as a guarantor, in that the crime is a debt to be repaid ("redeem the debt of our pollution" (id. l. 313)), that conflates oikos and polis ("Are you not ashamed to air your private griefs when the country's sick?" (id. l. 635)). He is certainly a tyrant, endorsing torture (id. l. 1154) and confusing the legislative and judicial functions with his office (id. l. 235 et seq.)--but also the entire regime of making policy contingent upon religion is revealed to be the essence of tragedy here, insofar as Oedipus on the one hand enjoins the priest to diagnose the cause of the wombplague to be the foundational regicide, but then on the other hand comes to distrust priestly advice when Tiresias identifies him as the corruption, and thereby thinks it a coup d'etat by Creon, "robbery of my crown" (id. l. 535)--a fatal equivocation, surely, indicating the instability that shall always result for states who leave arbitration of the real to "go to the oracle at Pytho and inquire about the answers" (id. l. 604). If this theological determination of policy is not the fundamental pollution of the tragedy, then fault must rather be in the chorus of Theban citizens, who inform Oedipus that "you would better be dead than blind and living" (id. l. 1367)--states that approve of infanticide likely earn a wombplague. The second text by internal chronology, Oedipus at Colonus, brings his long exile to an end, in the neighborhood of Athens--and its resolution seems like the close of a trilogy, similar to how Aeschylus' Eumenides closes out the Oresteia. The conflict in this text involves the civil war between his sons via Jocasta--both try to enlist him for whatever reason; he declines both; he cuts a deal with Theseus to be buried secretly near Athens, near the shrine of the Erinyes ("most feared Daughters of darkness and mysterious earth" (op. cit. 39-40)). The text is something of an enigma--what exactly is the story, and what is at stake? The answer is in the third volume of Agamben's Homo Sacer, Stasis, discussing not only the conflation of oikos with polis but also the 'rules' of civil war, as discussed in the review, supra: One curiosity of the stasis is that the Solonian constitution required the citizens to take one side or the other therein, lest the non-participant be afflicted with atimia (no-honor, or so? i.e., ‘dishonor’) “the loss of civil rights”—“not taking part in the civil war amounts to being expelled from the polis and confined to the oikos” (17). The corollary curiosity is that the constitution furthermore prohibits prosecution of crimes committed during the stasis--the amnestia, less a forgetting and more a refusal to make use of memory (21). Oedipus, by his refusal to participate in the civil war, must be expelled definitively from the polis--his exile is made executory, say--but he cannot abide in the oikos, as the royal household tends to merge with the polis in a monarchy, but also because his household is already totally fucked up. And because he does not participate, there shall be no amnesia/amnesty for him. To the extent that these unstated rules of the stasis were salient for Athenian audiences, this must have been a powerful text--similar in effect to how the Oresteia catches Orestes in the contrary obligations to avenge one's father's death but not commit matricide. Athenian Theseus cuts the gordian knot here: "I shall not refuse this man's desire: I declare him a citizen" (id. l. 636)--which only replicates the problem of tyranny noted in connection with Oedipus Rex, conflating the legislative and judicial functions with his Athenian executive office. In the third text, the Antigone, the Seven against Thebes that had been contemplated in Oedipus at Colonus has come to pass, Oedipus' sons are dead, and Jocasta's brother, Creon, steps into the state of exception as sovereign with the notion that "the very gods who shook the state with mighty surge have set it straight again" (op. cit. at 162), an orthopolitics that he as homo sacer embodies. His first act, once again conflating oikos and polis, and once again merging legislative and judicial function with his own office, declares that faithful Eteocles receives a state burial, whereas faithless Polyneices must remain unburied "a dinner for the birds and for the dogs" (id. l. 206). The contrary injunctions of loyalty to household and loyalty to state force Creon and Antigone to different acts--and the chorus of numbnut conservative Thebans here however admits "my mind is split at this awful sight" (id. l. 373), an ideological diremption of no easy resolution (perhaps the sort that causes stasis--Marx's 'between equal rights, force decides'). It is difficult to avoid Antigone's egalitarian position--"Death yearns for equal law for all the dead" (id. l. 519), whereas Creon is quite a bit less sympathetic ("No woman rule me while I live" (id. l. 524)). Both Antigone and Creon are in violation of Agamben's rules of the stasis, we should note, insofar as he is not engaging in amnesia/amnesty, and she had stayed with her father in the initial part of the war, only picking a side when the war was over. Good times for the whole family. When Seneca gets a hold of this narrative, he skips much of the detective-type inquiry into uncovering the murderer of Laius and skips right to the main question of how in the holy hell does Tiresias know so much? In Sophocles, Tiresias simply shows up and tells everyone what happened. Seneca, however, is not satisfied with this sort of lazy storytelling. Rather, Seneca's Tiresias employs Tiresias' daughter, Manto, to read the sacrificial flames (op. cit. l. 309 et seq.), to read the affect of the sacrificial animals (id. l. 330 et seq.), to read the flowing of the animal's blood (id. l. 350 et sq.), and to read the entrails of the dead animal (id. l. 370 et seq.)--discovering therein "what monstrosity is this? A foetus in an unmated heifer!"--surely the worst sign possible when one is reading entrails? Thereafter, a priest is employed in necromantic arts of summoning the dead (id. l. 550 et seq.). It all leads to the same result, just a bit more interest in the techne of prophetics, without disturbing the flaw of including them at the foundation of policy.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Akemi G.

    As always, I am torn among the many translations. I have this Penguin edition, translated by Robert Fagles (1982), and the older (1949) translation by Dudley Fitts & Robert Fitzgerald. Fagles' translation reads well, but so does Fitzgerald's. Fitzgerald breaks down the play to scenes, which I like--even though these are short plays, I find Fagles' no-break translation rather tiresome. (I have no idea which style is more faithful to the ancient Greek original.) Sometimes the two translations are As always, I am torn among the many translations. I have this Penguin edition, translated by Robert Fagles (1982), and the older (1949) translation by Dudley Fitts & Robert Fitzgerald. Fagles' translation reads well, but so does Fitzgerald's. Fitzgerald breaks down the play to scenes, which I like--even though these are short plays, I find Fagles' no-break translation rather tiresome. (I have no idea which style is more faithful to the ancient Greek original.) Sometimes the two translations are so quite different that I wonder if they come from the same original (perhaps there are variations?) Here is the same speech by Antigone: Fitzgerald I dared. It was not God's proclamation. That final Justice That rules the world below makes no such laws. Your edict, King, was strong, But all your strength is weakness itself against The immortal unrecorded laws of God. They are not merely now: they were, and shall be, Operative for ever, beyond man utterly. I knew I must die, even without your decree: I am only mortal. And if I must die Now, before it is my time to die, Surely this is no hardship: can anyone Living, as I live, with evil all about me, Think Death less than a friend? ... Fagles Of course I did. It wasn't Zeus, not in the least, who made this proclamation--not to me. Nor did that Justice, dwelling with the gods beneath the earth, ordain such laws for men. Nor did I think your edict had such force that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods, the great unwritten, unshakable traditions. They are alive, not just today or yesterday: they live forever, from the first of time, and no one knows when they first saw the light. These laws--I was not about to break them, not out of fear of some man's wounded pride, and face the retribution of the gods. Die I must, I've known it all my life-- how could I keep from knowing?--even without your death-sentence ringing in my ears. And if I am to die before my time I consider that a gain. Who on earth, alive in the midst of so much grief as I, could fail to find his death a rich reward? ... As you see, Fagles tends to be wordy. And where did the line "not out of fear of some man's wounded pride" come from? (I sorta like it, however. Ah, the two equally proud characters--Antigone and Creon. I can see both sides' points.) These plays were offered at Dionysia events to honor Dionysus, the god of joy and entertainment. I find it interesting that tragedies were the main part of this theatrical event. Apparently, ancient Greeks knew the positive, cleansing effect of a good cry.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    Star missing because I don't know Greek, and this translation is older than I am. I read Antigone in trans as a college freshman, taught Oedipus a couple dozen times, always applicable to the current epidemic--AIDS/ HIV, or whatever, first scene, citizens prostrate before the ruler who brought on the disaster, unbenownst. NOW we have a BENOWNST disaster-bringer to prostrate ourselves before--the Swamp-Drainer with his Cabinet of Swamp Monsters. And the Congress, the Full Swamp, has just eliminat Star missing because I don't know Greek, and this translation is older than I am. I read Antigone in trans as a college freshman, taught Oedipus a couple dozen times, always applicable to the current epidemic--AIDS/ HIV, or whatever, first scene, citizens prostrate before the ruler who brought on the disaster, unbenownst. NOW we have a BENOWNST disaster-bringer to prostrate ourselves before--the Swamp-Drainer with his Cabinet of Swamp Monsters. And the Congress, the Full Swamp, has just eliminated the non-partisan Ethics Committee, made it part of the partisan Congressional Ethics, as my physician friend has said, "Didn't take 'em long to hook up the sewer system to the swamp." But I still don't know what to think of reading lit in trans., which I usually avoid. Just haven't committed to learn ancient Greek. I've read a bit of Seneca's Oedipus, but.. And here's a translation from 1939. Classic, but not classical, what?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sincerae

    I had to read Antigone, the third play in The Oedipus Cycle, in the 9th or 10th grade. The teacher filled us in about the occurrences in Oedipus Rex, but our starting point was only with Antigone. My memory fails to recall which grade exactly, but I certainly remember how my English teacher made it deathly boring. I can't remember which teacher, but it still clings to my memory his or her words about Oedipus' "fatal flaw." This was repeated over and over I guess to sound like an expert. One of t I had to read Antigone, the third play in The Oedipus Cycle, in the 9th or 10th grade. The teacher filled us in about the occurrences in Oedipus Rex, but our starting point was only with Antigone. My memory fails to recall which grade exactly, but I certainly remember how my English teacher made it deathly boring. I can't remember which teacher, but it still clings to my memory his or her words about Oedipus' "fatal flaw." This was repeated over and over I guess to sound like an expert. One of the fatal flaws for me in studying Sophocles' masterpieces was to present the last of the trilogy in the very dry teaching mode of my teacher. Great literature was ruined. I couldn't for the life of me at the time believe what the teacher was saying that Antigone was classic literature. I was squirming in the seat reading it and hating every class lecture, reading, and discussion. I don't know if reading the entire Oedipus Cycle at the time would have helped me to have a different view or not. Thirty years later I have evolved in taste. It started happening in the 12th grade. It takes a special teacher to know how to bring alive antique and ancient literature, and Mr. Harwood did with Hamlet in his advanced English class. Following a school year in his class, even sitting through the classes of stodgy old English professors in college wasn't so bad after 12th grade English, but it took me three decades to come back to Sophocles, and I'm very happy I did. I should have come back sooner since my used copy has been on the shelf at least 20 years. This is a marvelous translation. The language runs smooth and elegantly. The drama and the desire to know what will happen next made this a page turner for me. 2500 years later The Oedipus Cycle holds up very well. Although this is Greek tragedy there are a few flashes of humor, especially in Antigone. This translation includes a commentary following Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone and also an index of names.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    These plays are world class literature. I originally read them a long time back (during an early "Classics" phase), and liked them well enough, though at the time I was sort of checking off boxes of Books-I-Must-Read. Reading these now, later in life, they have much more impact. I'm sure an additional boost came via Fagles' potent translations. An added plus are the outstanding introductions preceding each play, which create necessary historical and literary contexts to further enhance the plays These plays are world class literature. I originally read them a long time back (during an early "Classics" phase), and liked them well enough, though at the time I was sort of checking off boxes of Books-I-Must-Read. Reading these now, later in life, they have much more impact. I'm sure an additional boost came via Fagles' potent translations. An added plus are the outstanding introductions preceding each play, which create necessary historical and literary contexts to further enhance the plays. Also, Fagles orders the plays within the cycle in an order that follows their composition rather than the linear ordering found in other translations. This fascinating arc, to my mind, deepens our understanding of the characters and their motivations. Fagles also notes that this ordering reflects Sophocles' evolving sense of tragedy. I don't know about that, but such a reading approach certainly heightens the poignancy of "Oedipus at Colonus," which in the traditional ordering ("Oedipus the King," "Oedipus at Colonus," "Antigone") seems the most static of the three plays. With Fagles' ordering ("Antigone," "Oedipus the King," "Oedipus at Colonus"), you experience some serious (and enjoyable) literary jujitsu. The last events in the cycle now become the first. Sophocles, by composing the plays the way he did, creates something along the lines of a Greek Rashomon, with new revelations, as viewpoints shift, about characters and their motivations. Such an approach creates a greater bond between the three plays, transforming them into a surprisingly modernist whole.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Glen

    A good translation of the classic Oedipal plays.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marie Michielsen

    "In certain heroic natures unmerited suffering and death can be met with a greatness of soul which, because it is purely human, brings honor to us all." "In certain heroic natures unmerited suffering and death can be met with a greatness of soul which, because it is purely human, brings honor to us all."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Edward Waters

    Most English translations of, say, the Greek New Testament are shepherded by a conviction that the original words had divine inspiration and so are best rendered verbatim wherever possible. At the same time, there generally is a concession (for good or ill) to the reality that if what results is not sufficiently lofty and reverential in tone, the faithful are unlikely to accept it. Attempts at classical Greek drama and poetry tend to be guided by rather different considerations: The translator's Most English translations of, say, the Greek New Testament are shepherded by a conviction that the original words had divine inspiration and so are best rendered verbatim wherever possible. At the same time, there generally is a concession (for good or ill) to the reality that if what results is not sufficiently lofty and reverential in tone, the faithful are unlikely to accept it. Attempts at classical Greek drama and poetry tend to be guided by rather different considerations: The translator's audience may consist of fellow scholars, reluctant undergraduate students, or an adventurous minority of the general public; and each of these groups will have particular demands. Too often work thus emerges which is precise but lifeless, or loosely interpreted to conform to the structures of 19th-century-style Anglo-American poetry, or so liberally seasoned with present-day colloquialisms as to jar the reader repeatedly out of the proper period and setting. For the most part, Paul Roche navigates skilfully through these hazards in trying his hand at Sophocles's Oedipus trilogy, and has produced a rendition that is readable, yet preserves classical distinctiveness. Once or twice in the first play a turn of phrase does feel awkwardly modern, but such flashes are rare and soon either disappear or blend into the overall arc of the stories. That Roche is himself a poet clearly enriched the labour, and his reflections, in the Introduction, on the essence of poetry and the challenge of its transmission across lines of language, era, and culture border on the profound. '... Poetry lies somewhere between meaning and music, sense and sound ...,' he writes; and in this region he attempts to set Sophocles's work. He echoes the meter of the original without imitating it exactly, and preserves more of the Greek dramatic structure (complete with `strophes' and `antistrophes') than do many other translations available. Yet Roche remains mindful that this is also a PLAY, and manages the formalized dialogue with an eye (or ear) to the possibility of his version itself turning up on stage. He also provides an afterword outlining principles to guide such performance. The reader of this translation whose only prior encounter with the Oedipus legend was some now-vaguely-remembered lesson in school, or perhaps Edith Hamilton's summary, may be surprised at how effectively one is drawn in. Roche, like Sophocles before him, succeeds in bringing the remote and legendary close enough to touch, while allowing it to remain sufficiently mysterious to stir the imagination.

  30. 4 out of 5

    h.

    Oedipus Rex: A.K.A. The Shittest Day EVER “But all eyes fail before time’s eyes/All actions come to justice there” (1163-1164). I'm creating a new shelf entitled "Kids Dig It," and to it I will add works kids of all ages dig --- bedtime stories like the Pokey Little Puppy and stories like Oedipus, which I am currently reading with 11th grade IB students. It is bull shit to think teenagers don't like the classics. I'd like to bake a bull shit pie and slam it in the face of all such negative Nellies. Oedipus Rex: A.K.A. The Shittest Day EVER “But all eyes fail before time’s eyes/All actions come to justice there” (1163-1164). I'm creating a new shelf entitled "Kids Dig It," and to it I will add works kids of all ages dig --- bedtime stories like the Pokey Little Puppy and stories like Oedipus, which I am currently reading with 11th grade IB students. It is bull shit to think teenagers don't like the classics. I'd like to bake a bull shit pie and slam it in the face of all such negative Nellies. When studying O.R. in a classroom of 25, two will be swooning into absolute love (slaves, already, to the Muse), 19 are reading and speaking with considerable animation, and the usual 4 are hating me, their peers, and all humanity, including Sophocles. (Reader, they are also hating you.) What matters to Ms. h. in room 211? Every eyeball is glued to the page! Even the snarlers are like "Holy fuck, this is fucked up. Are you even allowed to teach us this?" Sophocles gives no answers and no solutions. It's terrifying. Do we, like O.R., "weave our own doom"? Are we equally benighted? That’s why the angry kids in the room are paying attention: their spidey senses are tingling. Might they to be a "child of endless night?" Could it be that life is often a horror show? And that in the sorry end "our lives like birds take wing/like sparks that fly when a fire soars/to the shore of the god of evening"? And even when we feel the divine move our souls with radiant beauty, aren't we still afeared? I will die. My children will die. All I love or will love must die. How I quake when Choragos turns toward me in my joy. Her ancient voice rings in my ears, and I hear her words sung so long afore: “Let every women in humanity's frailty/Consider her last day; and let none/Presume upon on her good fortune until she find/Life, at her death, a memory without pain.” Tragedy. The Greeks looked unflinchingly at what we cannot understand but must experience. Are we brave enough to look? So, if you clicked on this review because you are looking for a book your kid might dig, believe me, this is it. Granted, it is rated PG 13. Read it with your teen, again or for the first time. However, if you still have a toddler to tuck in, please click over to my review of the Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss, which is a fantastic satirical yarn disguised as silly farce. You will enjoy reading this aloud. You will be for real laughing with your sweet Jessica, rather than yearning to Oedipus your eyeballs out.

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