It is very hard to know how to approach the Theban plays. They are, in a sense, incomprehensible, at least to me. They are in a dead language, which I do not know. So much is lost in that translation — the rhythms and rules of Greek poetry, even if they are followed by the translator, do not carry their import with them. And they are not prose, but plays, and I have not seen them staged, and something is lost in that. And so much also is lost without the context of their society — the meanings of things, the importance of things.
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Before Creon orders the guards to take her away to her death, Antigone reflects on her decision to bury her brother and its sad consequences. In the culmination of the continuing theme of loving Death, Antigone calls the chamber where she will be buried alive "my bridal-bed" Faced with the deadly consequences of her action, Antigone seems overwhelmed, even regretful.
Only in her last speech does she fully regain her characteristic strength, calling upon the men of Thebes to witness her suffering in the name of divine law. At Creon's order for the guards to take her away, Antigone nearly crumbles in anguish.
Before recovering her courage, she cries out: "Oh, god, the voice of death. It's come, it's here" The moment resembles the scene at the conclusion of Verdi's opera Aida , when the heroine and her love Ramades — who are also entombed alive — hear their funeral dirge above the sealed chamber, and suddenly despair.
In both stories of passionate heroines who embrace death willingly, the drama demands an instant of wild resistance, a proof that the character does in fact cherish the life she is on the verge of losing. Antigone, the audiences sees, is not a heartless fanatic. She truly mourns the life she leaves, and, at this instant, fears the consequences of her decision.
Also in this scene, rather surprisingly, Antigone explains why she would never have defied Creon's order for the sake of a husband or her own children. The passage seems to contradict Antigone's devotion to the laws of the gods and undercuts her idealism. The tone of her argument seems uncharacteristic of Antigone, who has expressed her convictions strongly all along — even while lamenting her approaching death. Translator Robert Fagles traces the logic Antigone uses to the Histories of Herodotus, in a story of a Persian woman who saves her brother rather than her husband or children.
But he adds that Antigone's rationale would make better sense had she been able to save Polynices, rather than just bury him. The speech, scholars agree, is troubling, and some readers have even raised the possibility that Sophocles did not write it at all. Fagles, however, includes the passage, suggesting that Antigone is speaking to Polynices here, the brother for whom she has sacrificed the possibility of husband and children.
Persephone the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, abducted by Hades to be his wife in the lower world. The Queen of Hades. Previous Lines Next Lines Removing book from your Reading List will also remove any bookmarked pages associated with this title. Are you sure you want to remove bookConfirmation and any corresponding bookmarks? My Preferences My Reading List. The Oedipus Trilogy Sophocles.
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The Three Theban Plays
Towering over the rest of Greek tragedy, Sophocles' The Three Theban Plays are among the most enduring and timeless dramas ever written. Collected here are Antigone , Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus , in a translation by Robert Fagles which retains all of Sophocles' 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. Oedipus in exile, searching for his identity, desperately trying to avoid his fate, seeking the truth of his origins and achieving immortality; his daughter, Antigone, defending her integrity and ideals to the death - these heroic, tragic figures have captivated theatregoers and readers since the fifth century BC. It is Sophocles' characterisation of Oedipus that would, in the nineteenth century, inspire Sigmund Freud to a revolutionary conception of the human mind, and the tragedies in this volume continue to move and inspire us to this day. Sophocles BC was born at Colonus, just outside Athens. His long life spanned the rise and decline of the Athenian Empire; he was a friend of Pericles, and though not an active politician he held several public offices, both military and civil. The leader of a literary circle and friend of Herodotus, Sophocles wrote over a hundred plays, drawing on a wide and varied range of themes, and winning the City Dionysia eighteen times; though only seven of his tragedies have survived, among them Antigone , Oedipus Rex, Ajax and Oedipus at Colonus.
The Oedipus Trilogy
Search for your next book Search. Shopping Cart There are no products in your shopping cart. Performing Arts. Description 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.