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The Burial at Thebes: Sophocles' Antigone Paperback – 17 Mar 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (17 Mar. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571223621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571223626
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 0.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,931 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Seamus Heaney was born in County Derry in Northern Ireland in 1939. Death of a Naturalist, his first collection of poems, appeared in 1966 and since then he has published poetry, criticism and translations - including Beowulf (1999) - which established him as one of the leading poets of his generation. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. District and Circle (2006), his eleventh collection, was awarded the T. S. Eliot Prize. Stepping Stones, a book of interviews conducted by Dennis O'Driscoll, appeared in 2008. In 2009 he received the David Cohen Prize for Literature. His twelfth collection of poetry, Human Chain, was published in 2010.

Seamus Heaney died in Dublin on August 30th, 2013

Product Description

Book Description

The Burial at Thebes, by Nobel Prize-winner Seamus Heaney, is a new verse translation of Sophocles' great classical tragedy Antigone.

From the Back Cover

Commissioned to mark the centenary of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 2004, ‘The Burial at Thebes' is Seamus Heaney's new verse translation of Sophocles' great tragedy, ‘Antigone' - whose eponymous heroine is one of the most sharply individualized and compelling figures in western drama. Faithful to the 'local row' and to the fierce specificity of the play's time and place, ‘The Burial at Thebes' honours the separate and irreconcilable claims of its opposed voices, as they enact the ancient but perennial conflict between family and state in a time of crisis, pitching the morality of private allegiance against that of public service. Above all, ‘The Burial at Thebes' honours the sovereign urgency and grandeur of Heaney's Sophoclean original, in which language speaks truth to power, then and now. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amy Connolly VINE VOICE on 8 April 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Heaney's version is easy to read and understand. A truly terrific tale of tragedy, heartbreak, and honour. I really enjoyed reading and studying this play and would recommend it to anyone looking for a moving play to read. It's short and quick and one i'll be rereading.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By deadbeat VINE VOICE on 23 July 2004
Format: Hardcover
Following a battle for supremacy, Eteocles and Polyneices, the two sons of Oedipus, kill each other, leaving Creon, the brother-in-law to Oedipus, as ruler of Thebes. Since Polyneices lead the attacking force against Thebes, Creon labelled him a traitor and denied him any funeral rites. Anyone who countermanded this law would do so on pain of death.
This is the backdrop to The Burial at Thebes, formerly know as Antigone, the last play in the Oedipus trilogy by Sophocles.
It is a play of desperate and wrenching simplicity. The eponymous Antigone, sister of Polyneices, is faced with a choice: to choose between obeying the dictates of family love, in giving burial to her slaughtered brother, or to obey the laws of the state, as represented by King Creon. Her choice is made without hesitation, to honour the dead and defy the state. This is done at a terrible cost. She not only relinquished her own life but also her betrothed's, Haemon son of Creon, who fell on his own sword when he saw her dead. Following Haemon's death, Creon's wife, Euripides, takes up Creon's sword and after cursing her husband kills herself. Creon ends the play a broken man. His pride, his stubbornness in refusing to rescind the death penalty, ultimately cost him his wife and only son.
Many elements of the play lend themselves to modern times and dilemmas, but unlike some other translators, Heaney has the sense to trust in the original, and adds little in the way of anxiously contemporary signposting. He keeps the lines taut and clear, making the effect of this play all the more powerful.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Onora on 8 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
I studied this for AA100, Open University. Its protagonists are Antigone and King Creon. King Creon has declared that Antigone's brother Polyneices's corpse be left for the birds and animals to eat (a traitor's burial). However, Antigone wants to honour her brother against the wishes of King Creon. It is a case of family loyalty versus the state with all the ensuing consequences. However, the situation is doubly complex as King Creon is also Antigone's uncle! The Burial at Thebes is a great read with plenty happening to keep readers interested. Heaney's version is excellent and relevant to many historical and contemporary world situations, which is why it is such a classic.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Conor Murphy on 9 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
A great translation of classic literature from a poet who himself will be considered as a classic writer.
The play itself is well known, but this translation manages to keep the classic language, and add a modern undertone. This tone never intrudes on the work, but enhances its constant rrelevance.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tosca on 2 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Initially purchased for study purposes I found this interpretation of Antigone excellent, extremely readable with some amusing touches, its relevance to present situations is amazing.
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A year ago I would have laughed heartily and long if anyone had told me I'd give one of the Classics A 5 star review.

It is one of the book's on the Open University AA100 The Arts past and present module, and I had been ambivalent at best, so when my Amazon package arrived I just thought it would be a quick flick through. How wrong could one girl be?

From the first word I was hooked. Seamus Heaney has done the most excellent job of making this Classic readable, and more importantly understandable and interesting.

I can't wait to get a deeper understanding of the text as my course goes on.
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By Christian Halpin on 19 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good, accessible but missing something. I've enjoyed Heaney's updating of other classics but this leaves out some essentials like the rawness of Antigone; and when Cleon doubts it isn't doubtful enough. I wonder if this is because the language is littered with too many modern colloquialisms? Or maybe the sometimes too contemporary words undermine the context from which the characters speak? Answers on a post card to....
Buy it, see what you think.
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By Eoin Murray on 1 Sept. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well worth a purchase. A lovely, easygoing translation of the classic play by the late Derry man. Short but high quality stuff.
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