Synopses & Reviews
Oedipus Rex is the greatest of the Greek tragedies, a profound meditation on the human condition. The story of the mythological king, who is doomed to kill his father and marry his mother, has resonated in world culture for almost 2,500 years. But Sophocles’ drama as originally performed was much more than a great story—it was a superb poetic script and exciting theatrical experience. The actors spoke in pulsing rhythms with hypnotic forward momentum, making it hard for audiences to look away. Interspersed among the verbal rants and duels were energetic songs performed by the chorus. 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. Speeches are rendered with the same kind of regular iambic rhythm that gave the Sophoclean originals their drive. The choral parts are translated as fluid rhymed songs. Mulroy also supplies an introduction, notes, and appendixes to provide helpful context for general readers and students.
“A concise and elegant summary of what is known about classical slavery. The authors provide a rich and well-written argument, moving among various kinds of evidence, literary and material, and treating historiographical difficulties and scholarly controversies without getting lost in them. One of its great virtues is the constant interplay between Greek and Roman practices, providing a model of comparative study.”—Page duBois, author of Slavery: Antiquity and Its Legacy and Slaves and Other Objects
“[This] excellent monograph . . . covers chattel slavery from Mycenean times to the end of the Roman empire. . . . Its focus is on the economic use and the everyday existence of slaves, particularly in classical Athens and republican and imperial Rome.”—Niall McKeown, The Classical Review
“A great work of world literature has at last become a great poem in English. Mulroy’s translation is far superior to other available English verse translations.”—Robert J. Rabel, editor of Approaches to Homer, Ancient and Modern
“Introductory notes on such matters as the historical background, fate vs. free will, and (inevitably) the Oedipus Complex are clear and useful.”—Peter Green, The New York Review of Books
“Andreau and Descat have taken on a difficult task in their effort not only to discuss over one thousand years of slavery but also to synthesize and contextualize what is often very problematic source material, produced by two societies which were not terribly interested in any sort of systematic discussion of slavery. The end result is an eminently readable study, which also serves as an exemplary model of comparative history.”—New England Classical Journal
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.
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.
About the Author
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. 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.
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