Oresteia

ISBN-10: 0872203905
ISBN-13: 9780872203907
Edition: 1998
List price: $13.00 Buy it from $3.94
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Description: Aeschylus, the earliest of the great Attic tragedians, presented his Oresteia at Athens' City Dionysia festival in 458 BCE. Born in the last quarter of the sixth century, Aeschylus had fought with the victorious Greeks in one and probably both of  More...

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Book details

List price: $13.00
Copyright year: 1998
Publisher: Hackett Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date: 9/15/1998
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 224
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.75" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.594
Language: English

Aeschylus, the earliest of the great Attic tragedians, presented his Oresteia at Athens' City Dionysia festival in 458 BCE. Born in the last quarter of the sixth century, Aeschylus had fought with the victorious Greeks in one and probably both of the Persian Wars (190 and 480-79). He died around 456 at about seventy years of age in Gela, Sicily. His epitaph records his role as a soldier at Marathon, not his artistic achievements, but these were many. The author of more than seventy plays, he won his first of thirteen tragic victories in 484. Of these plays, only seven remain. The Oresteia is Aeschylus' only complete surviving trilogy; the satyr play with which it was first performed, Proteus, is lost. Peter Meineck has aimed to translate the Oresteia for the modern stage.

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."

Peter Meineck is Founder of Aquila Theatre and Associate Professor of Classics, New York University.

Introduction to Aeschylus' Oresteia
Translator's Preface
Diagram of the Stage
Cast of Characters, Agamemnon
Agamemnon
Cast of Characters, The Libation Bearers
The Libation Bearers
Cast of Characters, The Furies
The Furies
Selected Bibliography

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