Aeschylus (525-c.456 bc) set his great trilogy in the immediate aftermath of the Fall of Troy, when King Agamemnon returns to Argos, a victor in war. Agamemnon depicts the hero's discovery that his family has been destroyed by his wife's infidelity and ends with his death at her callous hand. Clytemnestra's crime is repaid in The Choephori when her outraged son Orestes kills both her and her lover. The Eumenides then follows Orestes as he is hounded to Athens by the Furies' law of vengeance and depicts Athene replacing the bloody cycle of revenge with a system of civil justice. Written in the years after the Battle of Marathon, The Oresteian Trilogy affirmed the deliverance of democratic Athens not only from Persian conquest, but also from its own barbaric past.
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(198mm x 129mm x 12mm)
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
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US Kirkus Review »
Though it's tempting to imagine the late English poet laureate's long tortured relationship with the image of (his wife) feminist heroine Sylvia Plath as its subtext, this vivid free-verse translation of Aeschylus' dark and bloody tragic trilogy (comprising Agamemnon, Choephori, and Eumenides) more properly evinces Hughes's wide range of interests and mastery of classic literatures. His nearly conversational rhythms produce an arresting mixture of colloquialism and formality, enlivened by strong imagery (as in the matricidal Orestes' declaration that "This house has been the goblet / That the demon of homicide, unquenchable, / Has loved to drain"), and only infrequently weakened by astonishing woodenness - as in Clytemnestra's cool reply to the Chorus who lament her murder of her husband: "You think I'm an irresponsible woman? / You are making a mistake"). Perhaps not the ultimate "acting edition" it claims to be, but, still, an essential further installment in the always interesting oeuvre of a gifted poet who was also a diligent scholar. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Aeschylus
Aeschylus was born of noble family near Athens in 525 BC. He took part in the Persian Wars, adn his epitahp represents him as fighting at Marathon. He wrote more than seventy plays, of which only seven have survived. Philip Vellacott has translated Aeschylus and Euripides for the Penguin Classics. He taughts classics at Dulwich College for twenty-four years and lectured on Greek Drama in the USA. He was also a Visiting Lecturer in the University of California. He died in 1997.