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Oedipus Rex (Wisconsin Studies in Classics)by Sophocles
Synopses & Reviews
Agamemnon, King of Argos, returns to Greece a victor in the Trojan War, bringing with him the seer Cassandra as his war-prize and concubine. Awaiting him is his vengeful wife Clytemnestra, who is angry at Agamemnon’s sacrifice of their daughter Iphigeneia to the gods, jealous of Cassandra, and guilty of taking a lover herself. The events that unfold catch everyone in a bloody net, including their absent son Orestes.
Aeschylus was the first of the three great tragic dramatists of ancient Greece, a forerunner of Sophocles and Euripides. His earlier tragedies were largely choral pageants with minimal plots. In Agamemnon, he retains the lyricism of those works, but he infuses this drama with such creativity and energy that the spectator or reader is constantly spellbound. From the speech of the weary watchman on the roof, lying on his forepaws like a dog, to the blood-splattered Clytemnestra who likens herself to a garden in bloom, passage after passage demands to be included in anthologies of Greece’s greatest poems.
Translator David Mulroy brings this ancient tragedy to life for modern readers and audiences. Using end rhyme and strict metrics, he combines the buoyant lyricism of the Greek text with a faithful rendering of its meaning in lucid English. The Agamemnon no longer needs to be called a difficult play.
David Mulroy’s brilliant verse translation of Oedipus Rex recaptures the aesthetic power of Sophocles’ masterpiece while also achieving a highly accurate translation in clear, contemporary English.
Oedipus at Colonus follows Oedipus Rex and Antigone in the trilogy of Greek dramas about the king of Thebes and his unhappy family. David Mulroys translation combines scrupulous scholarship and textual accuracy with a fresh verse style, and his introduction and notes deepen the readers understanding of the play and the politics of Sophocles Athens.
The Odes of Horace are a treasure of Western civilization, and this new English translation is a lively rendition by one of the prominent poet-translators of our own time, David Slavitt. Charming, shrewd, and intimate, the voice of the Odes is that of a sociable wise man talking amusingly but candidly to admiring friends. This edition is also notable for Slavitts extensive notes and commentary about the art of translation.
Jean Andreau and Raymond Descat break new ground in this comparative history of slavery in Greece and Rome. Focusing on slaves’ economic role in society, their crucial contributions to Greek and Roman culture, and their daily and family lives, the authors examine the different ways in which slavery evolved in the two cultures. Accessible to both scholars and students, this book provides a detailed overview of the ancient evidence and the modern debates surrounding the vast and largely invisible populations of enslaved peoples in the classical world.
A new verse translation of Agamemnon, the first play in Aeschylus’s trilogy The Oresteia, combines the buoyant lyricism of the Greek text with a faithful rendering of its meaning in lucid English.
The Odes of Horace are a treasure of Western civilization, and this new English translation is a lively rendition by one of the prominent poet-translators of our own time, David R. Slavitt. Horace was one of the great poets of Romes Augustan age, benefiting (as did fellow poet Vergil) from the friendship of the powerful statesman and cultural patron Maecenas. These Odes, which take as their formal models Greek poems of the seventh century BCE—especially the work of Sappho and Alcaeus—are the observations of a wry, subtle mind on events and occasions of everyday life. At first reading, they are modest works but build toward a comprehensive attitude that might fairly be called a philosophy. Charming, shrewd, and intimate, the voice of the Odes is that of a sociable wise man talking amusingly but candidly to admiring friends.
This edition is also notable for Slavitts extensive notes and commentary about the art of translation. He presents the problems he encountered in making the translation, discussing possible solutions and the choices he made among them. The effect of the notes is to bring the reader even closer to the original Latin and to understand better how to gauge the distance between the two languages.
Oedipus at Colonus is the third in Sophocles' trilogy of plays about the famous king of Thebes and his unhappy family. It dramatizes the mysterious death of Oedipus, by which he is transformed into an immortal hero protecting Athens. This was Sophocles' final play, written in his mid-eighties and produced posthumously. Translator David Mulroy's introduction and notes deepen the reader's understanding of Oedipus' character and the real political tumult that was shaking Athens at the time that Sophocles wrote the play. Oedipus at Colonus is at once a complex study of a tragic character, an indictment of Athenian democracy, and a subtle endorsement of hope for personal immortality.
As in his previous translations of Oedipus Rex and Antigone, Mulroy combines scrupulous scholarship and textual accuracy with a fresh poetic style. He uses iambic pentameter for spoken passages and short rhymed stanzas for choral songs, resulting in a text that is accessible and fun to read and perform.
About the Author
David Mulroy is professor of classics at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He has translated The Complete Poetry of Catullus, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press. Sophocles (ca. 497/6–407/6 BCE) was the most acclaimed dramatist of his era, winning more than twenty festival competitions in ancient Athens. He is believed to have written 123 plays, but only seven have survived in a complete form.
Table of Contents
Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
Appendix 1. The Riddle of the Sphinx
Appendix 2. A Synopsis of Sophocles' Theban Trilogy
Suggestions for Further Reading
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