The Complete Plays: Trojan women. Iphigeneia in Tauris. Ion. Helen. Cyclops
Athens of the fifth century B.C.E. represents one of the towering achievements of civilization. It is the crucible in which Western Civilization was given form. It created democracy: rule by the people. Of the three supreme tragedians of Classical Athens; Aeschylus, Sophokles and Euripides, Euripides (480's-406 B.C.E.) is the most modern. His people are no longer the heroes of Aeschylus, inspired by Homer and the Heroic world of war and warriors. Nor are they the more humanistic characters of Sophokles, who created men and women of grand moral integrity. Rather, Euripides' people are pyschologically drawn, they are frequently petty, conniving, and conflicted. In other words, they are like us. The plays included are:TROJAN WOMENIPHIGENEIA IN TAURISIONHELENCYCLOPSCARL R. MUELLER has since 1967 been professor in the Department of Theater at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he ahs taught theater history, criticism, dramatic literature, and playwriting, as well as having directed. He was educated at Northwestern University, where he received a B.S. in English. After work in graduate English at the University of California, Berkeley, he received his M.A. in playwriting at UCLA, where he also completed his Ph.D. in theater history and criticism. In addition, he was a Fulbright Scholar in Berlin in 1960-1961. A translator for more than forty years, he has translated and published works by Buchner, Brecht, Wedekind, Hauptmann, Hofmannsthal, and Hebbel, to name a few. His published translation of von Horvath's Tales from the Vienna Woods was given its London West End premiere in July 1999. For Smith and Kraus, he has translated volumes of plays by Schnitzler, Strindberg, Pirandello, Kleist, and Wedekind, as well as Goethe's Faust, Parts I and II. In addition to translating the complete plays of Euripides and Aeschylus for Smith and Kraus, he has also co-translated the plays of Sophokles. His translations have been performed in every English-speaking country and have appeared on BBC-TV. TROJAN WOMENThe date of Trojan Women, 415, is one of the few secure dates of Euripides' extant plays and that only because it was listed as winning second prize at the City Dionysia in Athens. It was also the year when the Peloponnesian War, which began in 431, took a breath. Athens was, technically speaking, at peace. But peace or no peace, Euripides, by the time he wrote Trojan Women, had witnessed enough atrocities to decide that, particularly regarding prisoners of war, neither Athens nor its enemies were above contempt.These brisk and earthy new translations of 19 plays by Euripides?among them Alkestis and Hippolytos?give David Grene and Richmond Lattimore?s The Complete Greek Tragedies: Euripides(1959) a run for its money. In each volume, Mueller (theater, Univ. of California, Los Angeles; translator, Luigi Pirandello: Three Major Plays) offers concise introductions that set Euripides and his plays in their time and include descriptions of various forms of theater, the use of masks and music, and the centrality of Dionysus?information valuable both to the newcomer and to the performer. The ?Note on Translation? outlines purposes and methods (summed up in the words of St. Jerome: ?I have always aimed at sense, not words?), and the bibliography includes works published from 1907 to 1996. Exemplifying the plays in the set is Medeia. In a 1944 translation by Rex Warner in the Grene/Lattimore volumes, the language is roundabout (e.g., ?I would not have spoken or touched him with my hands?); Mueller?s translation, which speaks vigorously to modern audiences, is much more direct (e.g., ?No, not one word, not one touch?). The paperback version belongs in college and university libraries. At $70 per volume, the hardcover edition had better be bound in Moroccan leather, the title stamped in gold leaf on the spine.-Larry Schwartz, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Moorhead
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Euripides' is one of only three Ancient Greek tragedians with surviving plays. The plays by the earliest, Aeschylus, remind me of a ancient frieze--not stilted exactly, but still stylized, very formal. The plays by Sophocles, in the middle chronologically are less so--he was credited with adding a third actor onstage, deemphasizing the chorus and allowing for more conflict. But it's the last of the three, Euripides, who to me seems the most natural, the most modern. Only 19 of some ninety-odd plays by Euripides still remain in existence. Reading over these plays made him ultimately my favorite Ancient Greek playwright. It might have helped that not only have I studied two of his plays in school (though the same is true of Aeschylus and Sophocles), but have actually seen his most famous play, Medea, in a Broadway production--the one with Zoe Caldwell, I think, though the drama is so playable it has gone through several Broadway productions in my lifetime. Medea was one of the plays assigned me in school--the other one was Bacchae, a play that still has the power to shock. And mind you--look at Medea--a play where a mother murders her own young children. Euripides makes Sophocles and Aeschylus look staid with the rawness and wildness of what he presents onstage. His women are more real to me too. There's a lot of debate about whether Euripides was misogynist or proto-feminist. Certainly Ancient Athens would not be a place where you'd find a sympathetic hearing for feminism, and I've read at least one critic allege that any feminist subtext we find in these plays are an overlay from our modern sensibilities--and another allege that actually his portrayal of woman was savage and satirical. I can only tell you that I felt Euripides wrote women with sympathy and understanding, and at least in his surviving plays, it's striking to me how many of the title protagonists are women. Maybe it's simply that he was too great a playwright to make complete caricatures of them, with enough layers to allow different reads. As with Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, which was Hitler's favorite play, but one also memorable for its soaring cry of common humanity in its, "Doth not a Jew bleed?" There's a passage that reminds me of that in Medea, where the chorus complains of how poets have depicted women, and hope for a day when women will sing out and the old portraits "of frail brides and faithless shall be shriveled as with fire." His portrait of the suffering of women in war in The Trojan Women is notable in it's empathy. Read Euripides and decide for yourself--he's definitely worth knowing.
Review: Euripides: The Complete Plays Volume IVUser Review - Goodreads
Reading Bacchae to freshen up -- been a while since college.
Euripides and the Athenian Theatet of His Time
A Note on the Translation
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