The Complete Plays of Sophocles: A New Translation

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The answer to this question is less simple and perhaps more provocative.

Bagg and Scully argue that Sophocles has often been translated with a kind of general elevation and elegance that doesn't always reflect what is in fact a quite wide emotional and linguistic range. Although Sophocles' language can certainly be formal, dense, and allusive, some of it is simple, direct, and even blunt. The translators have made a point of trying to highlight these differences. To translate Sophocles' breadth of expression, Bagg and Scully have required "the resources not only of idiomatic English but also of rhetorical gravitas and, on rare occasion, colloquial English as well.

In doing so, they've departed from literalism whenever they felt it necessary. Their objective "is not only to render the literal meaning but also to communicate the feel and impact embedded in that meaning. Such an approach to Greek drama is by no means unprecedented.

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As one example, Bagg and Scully cite the valuable efforts of the eminent classicist and editor William Arrowsmith, who commissioned poet-translators to develop more natural, idiomatic, and crucially performable versions of ancient Greek plays. Bagg and Scully, however, take this approach further than any other Sophoclean translation I'm familiar with.

A brief but illustrative example of the translators' method appears in Aias better known as Ajax. Teukros, Aias' half-brother, and Menelaos, the famous king of Sparta, are facing off over whether Aias, who has killed himself, is entitled to a proper burial. Menelaos, a frontline fighter, sneers at Teukros for being a mere archer. In the original Greek, Teukros replies, ou gar banauson ten tekhnen ektesamen , something like "For it is not a [mere] mechanical skill that I possess.

Bagg's reasoning is that the negation "it is not X" demanded by a more literal rendering would sound defensive and perhaps weak in this dramatic moment. Teukros' intent here is not merely defensive but also aggressive: He's quietly threatening Menelaos. Although this rendering is certainly not literal, it does have the right feel and impact. This example might make it sound as if the translators have merely paraphrased the plays - in effect, turning ancient Greek dramas into 21st-century American ones. Fortunately, they haven't done this.

Their avowed goal is appropriateness of expression for the dramatic moment, not informality for its own sake and not avoidance of literalism on principle. The Tragedies of Euripides.

Antigone by Sophocles - Summary & Analysis

Iphigenia among the Taurians. I am Iphigenia, daughter of the daughter of Tyndareus My father killed me Few contemporary poets elicit such powerful responses from readers and critics as Anne Carson. Destined to become the standard translation of the play, Iphigenia among the Taurians is a remarkable accomplishment, and an unforgettable work of poetic drama. The Complete Aeschylus. Aeschylus' Oresteia, the only ancient tragic trilogy to survive, is one of the great foundational texts of Western culture.

It begins with Agamemnon, which describes Agamemnon's return from the Trojan War and his murder at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra, continues with her murder by their son Orestes in Libation Bearers, and concludes with Orestes' acquittal at a court founded by Athena in Eumenides. The trilogy thus traces the evolution of justice in human society from blood vengeance to the rule of law, Aeschylus' contribution to a Greek legend steeped in murder, adultery, human sacrifice, cannibalism, and endless intrigue.

Similar ebooks. The heroic Greek dramas that have moved theatergoers and readers since the fifth century B.

Robert Fagles's authoritative and acclaimed translation conveys all of Sophocles's lucidity and power: the cut and thrust of his dialogue, his ironic edge, the surge and majesty of his choruses and, above all, the agonies and triumphs of his characters. This Penguin Classics edition features an introduction and notes by the renowned classicist Bernard Knox. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world.

The Phoenician Virgins. Euripides, one of the three great Greek tragedians was born in Attica probably in B. 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.

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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 Among his best-known plays are Alcestis B.

On the contrary, more often than not, B maintains a clear head as regards textual problems, thereby doing justice to the ancient poet's stylistic peculiarities and lexical scrupulosity. The task of rendering Sophocles' Theban plays in an English idiom not unfitted for living speech becomes even more challenging, in view of numerous spare and vigorous renditions that continue to appear in the contemporary competitive market, at a pace that readers find hard to keep up with. Bernard Knox's penetrating introductions to the plays and helpful notes on the text allow the readers to focus on the far-reaching complex of themes and images.


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Notwithstanding the glossing notes, the handy stage directions incorporated into the text and the levelheaded analysis, this is not a scholarly translation with the sole purpose of aiding our improved comprehension of the ancient text; at its most felicitous moments it is poetry delicately filtered through a layer of philologically sound editing.

It is time now to look more closely at B's programmatic statement that his goal in these translations "has been to achieve maximum playability with the least sacrifice of accuracy" p. The sheer force and grandeur of lines in Sophocles' Antigone have always intrigued me on account of their almost untranslatable juxtaposition of images and complex set of meanings.

The Complete Plays of Sophocles

Here the Theban elders bewail Antigone's disastrous fate, in view of her imminent death. As they witness Antigone and Ismene being led inside the palace and Creon savagely glorying in their capture, they come to the sad realization that the hereditary doom incessantly weaving through the generations of the House of Labdacus is about to strike down the last ray of hope spread over the family of Oedipus. It is apparent to me that B renders the extraordinary thematic density of the stanza without overindulgent verbiage and distasteful mannerism. His rendition is fitting for stage delivery and, more significantly, respects Sophocles' admirable linguistic capacity for fusing ostensibly incongruous images into one harmonious whole:.

As I have already suggested, however much experienced translators of Greek plays strive after accuracy, in translation there is always a dimension of the source text that escapes.

The Complete Plays of Sophocles: A New Translation - Sophocles - Google книги

This is not to say, of course, that B should be held responsible for failing to attain the impossible. There are, nonetheless, cases in which a slight change in the phrasing would make all the difference. B catches the flavour of lines in Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus , but at one instance does not convey the full implication of the Greek. This is an important omission, since the motif of mantic enthusiasm informing the ode is hereby seriously weakened, especially for the non-Greek-reading public.

The passage goes as follows:. In their mantic transport, the chorus of old men envisions the cavalry battle between Theseus' followers and the Theban abductors as taking place close to the Attic borders. In this fine specimen of 'escape lyrics', Sophocles throws strong emphasis on the chorus' clairvoyant penetration through recurrent confident predictions of Athenian victory.

At the visionary fervour of the Colonan elders reaches a climax; they declare themselves to be "prophet" of the imminent Athenian triumph over the Theban aggressors. Correspondingly, earlier in the same play, B shows an admirable sense of rhythm in the rendition of the lyric dialogue between Oedipus and the chorus Nonetheless, in his effort to produce an intensely dramatic translation, he adds further pointless force and attack to his rendition.

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