Aeschylus: The suppliant maidens

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University of Chicago Press, 1991 - Drama - 180 pages
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The Grene and Lattimore edition of the Greek tragedies has been among the most widely acclaimed and successful publications of the University of Chicago Press. On the occasion of the Centennial of the University of Chicago and its Press, we take pleasure in reissuing this complete work in a handsome four-volume slipcased edition as well as in redesigned versions of the familiar paperbacks.

For the Centennial Edition two of the original translations have been replaced. In the original publication David Grene translated only one of the three Theban plays, Oedipus the King. Now he has added his own translations of the remaining two, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone, thus bringing a new unity of tone and style to this group. Grene has also revised his earlier translation of Prometheus Bound and rendered some of the former prose sections in verse. These new translations replace the originals included in the paperback volumes Sophocles I (which contains all three Theban plays), Aeschylus II, Greek Tragedies, Volume I, and Greek Tragedies, Volume III, all of which are now being published in second editions.

All other volumes contain the translations of the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides for the most part from the original versions first published in the 1940s and 1950s. These translations have been the choice of generations of teachers and students, selling in the past forty years over three million copies.

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About the author (1991)

Aeschylus was born at Eleusis of a noble family. He fought at the Battle of Marathon (490 b.c.), where a small Greek band heroically defeated the invading Persians. At the time of his death in Sicily, Athens was in its golden age. In all of his extant works, his intense love of Greece and Athens finds expression. Of the nearly 90 plays attributed to him, only 7 survive. These are The Persians (produced in 472 b.c.), Seven against Thebes (467 b.c.), The Oresteia (458 b.c.)---which includes Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, and Eumenides (or Furies) --- Suppliants (463 b.c.), and Prometheus Bound (c.460 b.c.). Six of the seven present mythological stories. The ornate language creates a mood of tragedy and reinforces the already stylized character of the Greek theater. Aeschylus called his prodigious output "dry scraps from Homer's banquet," because his plots and solemn language are derived from the epic poet. But a more accurate summation of Aeschylus would emphasize his grandeur of mind and spirit and the tragic dignity of his language. Because of his patriotism and belief in divine providence, there is a profound moral order to his plays. Characters such as Clytemnestra, Orestes, and Prometheus personify a great passion or principle. As individuals they conflict with divine will, but, ultimately, justice prevails. Aeschylus's introduction of the second actor made real theater possible, because the two could address each other and act several roles. His successors imitated his costumes, dances, spectacular effects, long descriptions, choral refrains, invocations, and dialogue. Swinburne's (see Vol. 1) enthusiasm for The Oresteia sums up all praises of Aeschylus; he called it simply "the greatest achievement of the human mind." Because of his great achievements, Aeschylus might be considered the "father of tragedy.

Richmond Lattimore, whose rerings of the" Iliad "and the "Odyssey of Homer," the odes of Pindar, and the plays of Aeschylus, Euripides, and Aristophanes set new standards for Greek translations, was for many years Professor of Greek at Bryn Mawr. His honors include awards from the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Council of Learned Societies. He died in 1984.

David Grene (1913–2002) taught classics for many years at the University of Chicago. He was a founding member of the Committee on Social Thought and coedited the University of Chicago Press’s prestigious series The Complete Greek Tragedies.

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