Oresteia Agamemnon, Libation-Bearers, Eumenides

ISBN-10: 0674996283
ISBN-13: 9780674996281
Edition: 2008
List price: $26.00 Buy it from $18.35
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Description: Aeschylus (ca. 525456 BCE ), the dramatist who made Athenian tragedy one of the worldrsquo;s great art forms, witnessed the establishment of democracy at Athens and fought against the Persians at Marathon. He won the tragic prize at the City  More...

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Book details

List price: $26.00
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 1/31/2009
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 496
Size: 4.50" wide x 6.75" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 0.968

Aeschylus (ca. 525456 BCE ), the dramatist who made Athenian tragedy one of the worldrsquo;s great art forms, witnessed the establishment of democracy at Athens and fought against the Persians at Marathon. He won the tragic prize at the City Dionysia thirteen times between ca. 499 and 458, and in his later years was probably victorious almost every time he put on a production, though Sophocles beat him at least once. Of his total of about eighty plays, seven survive complete. The second volume contains the complete Oresteia trilogy, comprising Agamemnon, Libation-Bearers, and Eumenides, presenting the murder of Agamemnon by his wife, the revenge taken by their son Orestes, the pursuit of Orestes by his motherrsquo;s avenging Furies, his trial and acquittal at Athens, Athenarsquo;s pacification of the Furies, and the blessings they both invoke upon the Athenian people.

Aeschylus was born at Eleusis of a noble family. He fought at the Battle of Marathon (490 b.c.), where a small Greek band heroically defeated the invading Persians. At the time of his death in Sicily, Athens was in its golden age. In all of his extant works, his intense love of Greece and Athens finds expression. Of the nearly 90 plays attributed to him, only 7 survive. These are The Persians (produced in 472 b.c.), Seven against Thebes (467 b.c.), The Oresteia (458 b.c.)---which includes Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, and Eumenides (or Furies) --- Suppliants (463 b.c.), and Prometheus Bound (c.460 b.c.). Six of the seven present mythological stories. The ornate language creates a mood of tragedy and reinforces the already stylized character of the Greek theater. Aeschylus called his prodigious output "dry scraps from Homer's banquet," because his plots and solemn language are derived from the epic poet. But a more accurate summation of Aeschylus would emphasize his grandeur of mind and spirit and the tragic dignity of his language. Because of his patriotism and belief in divine providence, there is a profound moral order to his plays. Characters such as Clytemnestra, Orestes, and Prometheus personify a great passion or principle. As individuals they conflict with divine will, but, ultimately, justice prevails. Aeschylus's introduction of the second actor made real theater possible, because the two could address each other and act several roles. His successors imitated his costumes, dances, spectacular effects, long descriptions, choral refrains, invocations, and dialogue. Swinburne's (see Vol. 1) enthusiasm for The Oresteia sums up all praises of Aeschylus; he called it simply "the greatest achievement of the human mind." Because of his great achievements, Aeschylus might be considered the "father of tragedy."

Alan H. Sommerstein is Professor of Greek, University of Nottingham.

Preface
Introduction
Bibliography Sigla
Abbreviations
Oresteia Agamemnon Libation-Bearers Eumenides
Index

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