Philoktetes

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Copper Canyon Press, 1986 - Drama - 76 pages

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Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
9
Section 3
79
Copyright

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About the author (1986)

The Greek dramatist Sophocles, born to a wealthy family at Colonus, near Athens, was admired as a boy for his personal beauty and musical skill. He served faithfully as a treasurer and general for Athens when it was expanding its empire and influence. In the dramatic contests, he defeated Aeschylus in 468 b.c. for first prize in tragedy, wrote a poem to Herodotus (see Vol. 3), and led his chorus and actors in mourning for Euripides just a few months before his own death. He wrote approximately 123 plays, of which 7 tragedies are extant, as well as a fragment of his satiric play, Ichneutae (Hunters). His plays were produced in the following order: Ajax (c.450 b.c.), Antigone (441 b.c.), Oedipus Tyrannus (c.430 b.c.), Trachiniae (c.430 b.c.), Electra (between 418 and 410 b.c.), Philoctetes (409 b.c.), and Oedipus at Colonus (posthumously in 401 b.c.). With Sophocles, Greek tragedy reached its most characteristic form. He added a third actor, made each play independent---that is, not dependent on others in a trilogy---increased the numbers of the chorus, introduced the use of scenery, shifted the focus from religious to more philosophical issues, and brought language and characters, though still majestic, nearer to everyday life. His finely delineated characters are responsible for the tragedy that befalls them, and they accept it heroically. Aristotle (see Vols. 3, 4, and 5) states that Sophocles said he portrayed people as they ought to be; Euripides, as they are. His utter command of tragic speech in the simple grandeur of his choral odes, dialogues, and monologues encourages the English reader to compare him to Shakespeare (see Vol. 1).

GREGORY MCNAMEE is a writer, editor, photographer, publisher, and publishing consultant. He is the author or editor of more than twenty-five books, among them Blue Mountains Far Away: Journeys Into the American Wilderness, Gila: The Life and Death of an American River, and American Byzantium: The New Las Vegas. McNamee's work has appeared in such 5ournals and online publications as Science News, The Nation, Newsday, Discovery, The Los Angeles Times, Salon, and The Washington Post. He is a contributing editor to The Bloomsbury Review, a regular reviewer for Kirkus Reviews, and the literary critic and books columnist for The Hollywood Reporter. McNamee is also a consultant in world geography to the Encyclopaedia Britannica and a regular contributor to it and its online adjunct, Britannica.com. Please visit www.gregorymcnamee.com for more information. For news about this book, please visit http://moveable-feasts.blogspot.com.

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