The Oresteia

The Oresteia

Book - 2003
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The Oresteia by Aeschylus, the only extant trilogy among the Greek tragedies, is one of the great foundational texts of Western culture. Beginning with Agamemnon, which describes Agamemnon's return from the Trojan War and his murder at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra, and continuing throughOrestes' murder of Clytemnestra in Libation Bearers and his acquittal at Athena's court in Eumenides, the trilogy traces the evolution of justice in human society from blood vengeance to the rule of law. The story of the house of Atreus is a tale of incest, adultery, human sacrifice, cannibalism,and political intrigue. It is also a story in which human action is simultaneously willed and determined. In this new translation the strangeness of the original Greek and its enduring human truth come alive in language that is remarkable for its unrelenting poetic intensity, its rich metaphorical texture, and a verbal density that can at times modulate into the simplest expressions. The precise butcomplicated rhythms of this translation honor the music of the original Greek, bringing into unforgettable English the Aeschylean vision of a world fraught with spiritual and political tensions, a world in which justice is a cosmic balance that inevitably rights itself both by means of and despitethe evil deeds of characters who claim to act on justice's behalf.
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2003
ISBN: 9780195154870
Branch Call Number: Performing Arts 882.01 Aes
Additional Contributors: Shapiro, Alan 1952-
Burian, Peter 1943-


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Oct 29, 2016

Really good trilogy of plays. Not sure I'd call them tragedies, they seemed more like histories of events and of how the modern justice system came into being. Really great read, I'd definitely recommend

Jun 07, 2010

The first play, AGAMEMNON, has a really amazing climax. The death, when it finally comes, has been built up to what Nietzsche might call a Dionysian climax, in which the reader is swept up in a euphoric wave as identity, the principium individuatonis, is burst asunder. This is not tragedy in the Aristotelian sense of catharsis - it is not a mere release of tension; it is something more than that, and sensitive readers will find a lot of value in it.

The second and third plays in the trilogy are more notable for their tight plots and intriguing team-ups. EUMENIDES, I believe, begins with Orestes and Apollo in a sort of buddy-cop relationship as the Sun God helps the young king escape the Furies, those terrible spirits of vengeance that the Greeks ironically called The Kindly Ones (Eumenides). The climax of these is not the sublime ecstasy of AGAMEMNON, but rather a much more directed and mundane ending - likely anticlimactic for most readers.


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