Nine Greek Dramas by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes

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Cosimo, Inc., Jan 1, 2010 - Drama - 472 pages
Author names not noted above: Euripides and Aristophanes. Translator names not noted above: E.D.A. Morshead, E.H. Plumtre, Gilbert Murray, and B.B. Rogers. Originally published between 1909 and 1917 under the name "Harvard Classics," this stupendous 51-volume set-a collection of the greatest writings from literature, philosophy, history, and mythology-was assembled by American academic CHARLES WILLIAM ELIOT (1834-1926), Harvard University's longest-serving president. Also known as "Dr. Eliot's Five Foot Shelf," it represented Eliot's belief that a basic liberal education could be gleaned by reading from an anthology of works that could fit on five feet of bookshelf. Volume VIII features nine plays by the greatest of the Greek dramatists: [ from AESCHYLUS (c. 525 Bic. 456 Be, the father of tragedy: Agamemnon, The Libation-Bearers, and The Furies, which constitute his trilogy known as the Oresteia; and Prometheus Bound, about the downfall of the god who gave fire to humanity [ from SOPHOCLES (c. 496 Bi406 Be: the ultimate Greek tragedy, Oedipus the King, as well as Antigone, still regularly performed today [ from EURIPIDES (c. 480 Bi406 Be: Hippolytus, based on the legend of the son of Theseus, the founder of Athens, and The Bacchae, the story of a king who refused to worship the god Dionysus [ from Aristophanes (c. 446 Bic. 386 Be, the father of comedy: The Frogs, a political satire featuring the god Dionysus.
 

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Contents

I
5
III
71
IV
115
V
156
VI
197
VII
243
VIII
287
IX
349
X
419
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About the author (2010)

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.

Sophocles was born around 496 B.C. in Colonus (near Athens), Greece. In 480, he was selected to lead the paean (choral chant to a god) celebrating the decisive Greek sea victory over the Persians at the Battle of Salamis. He served as a treasurer and general for Athens when it was expanding its empire and influence. He wrote approximately 123 plays including Ajax, Antigone, Oedipus Tyrannus, Trachiniae, Electra, Philoctetes, and Oedipus at Colonus. His last recorded act was to lead a chorus in public mourning for Euripides. He died in 406 B. C.

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