Alcestis

ISBN-10: 0195061667

ISBN-13: 9780195061666

Edition: 1989

Authors: William Arrowsmith, Euripides

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Description:

At once a vigorous translation of one of Euripides' most subtle andwitty plays, and a wholly fresh interpretation, this version reveals for thefirst time the extraordinary formal beauty and thematic concentration of theAlcestis.William Arrowsmith, eminent classical scholar, translator, and General Editorof this highly praised series, rejects the standard view of the Alcestis as apsychological study of the egotist Admetos and his naive but devoted wife. Histranslation, instead, presents the play as a drama of human existence--inkeeping with the tradition of Greek tragedy--with recognizably human characterswho also represent masked embodiments of human conditions. The Alcestis thusbecomes a metaphysical tragicomedy in which Admetos, who has heretofore led alife without limitations, learns to "think mortal thoughts." He acquires theknowledge of limits--the acceptance of death as well as the duty to live--which,according to Euripides, makes people meaningfully human and capable of bothcourage and compassion. This new interpretation compellingly argues that, forEuripides, suffering humanizes, that exemption makes a man selfish and childish,and that only the courage to accept both life and death leads to the realizationof one's humanity, and, in the case of Alcestis, to heroism.
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Book details

List price: $16.95
Copyright year: 1989
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 2/1/1990
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 142
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.00" long x 0.25" tall
Weight: 0.286
Language: English

Euripides, one of the three great Greek tragedians was born in Attica probably in 485 B.C. of well-to-do parents. In his youth he cultivated gymnastic pursuits and studied philosophy and rhetoric. Soon after he received recognition for a play that he had written, Euripides left Athens for the court of Archelaus, king of Macedonia. In his tragedies, Euripides represented individuals not as they ought to be but as they are. His excellence lies in the tenderness and pathos with which he invested many of his characters. Euripides' attitude toward the gods was iconoclastic and rationalistic; toward humans-notably his passionate female characters-his attitude was deeply sympathetic. In his dramas, Euripides separated the chorus from the action, which was the first step toward the complete elimination of the chorus. He used the prologue as an introduction and explanation. Although Euripides has been charged with intemperate use of the deus ex machina, by which artifice a god is dragged in abruptly at the end to resolve a situation beyond human powers, he created some of the most unforgettable psychological portraits. Fragments of about fifty-five plays survive; some were discovered as recently as 1906. Among his best-known plays are Alcestis (438 B.C.), Medea and Philoctetes (431 B.C.), Electra (417 B.C.), Iphigenia in Tauris (.413 B.C.), The Trojan Women (415 B.C.), and Iphigenia in Aulis Iphigenia (c.405 B.C.). Euripides died in Athens in 406. Shortly after his death his reputation rose and has never diminished.

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