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The Complete Greek Tragedies: Euripides Vol 1 (Euripides) [Paperback]

Richard Grene , Richmond Lattimore
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Feb 1955
In nine paperback volumes, the Grene and Lattimore editions offer the most comprehensive selection of the Greek tragedies available in English. Over the years these authoritative, critically acclaimed editions have been the preferred choice of over three million readers for personal libraries and individual study as well as for classroom use.

Product details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (1 Feb 1955)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226307808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226307800
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.5 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 490,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly wonderful 21 Jan 2004
This collection of plays by one of the world's most talented writers should be on everyone's bookshelves.
They may be over 2000 years old, but that doesn't mean the relevance of these plays is in any way diminished; focusing on the human condition, reading anything by Euripides is a totally cathartic experience, and these are no exception. From the Hippolytus' arrogant hubris and all-consuming honour to Medea's fatal love for her husband, this collection shows every side of humanity, in all its colours.
The characters play out the polarities of life in front of the reader, and the actions and reactions make us realise that however sophisticated we think we are in the 21st century, human nature hasn't, and will never, change.
These plays will enrich your library and your mind; they're an essential part of any library worth its salt. Buy this.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Euripides plays about Hercules, Jason, and Theseus 7 April 2003
By Lawrance M. Bernabo - Published on Amazon.com
Volume I of "The Complete Greek Tragedies" of Euripides offers the playwrights rather unique view on some of the greatest heroes of Greek Mythology: Hercules, Jason, and Theseus.
"Alcestis� (translated by Richard Lattimore) is the oldest surviving play of Euripides and the closest thing we have to an extant example of a satyr play. Consequently, this play has more of a burlesque tone, best represented in the drunken speech of Hercules to the butler and his teasing of Admetus at the end. Alcestis was the model wife of Admetus, for when her husband is to die she alone agrees to die in his place. However, the key in this drama is how Admetus finds this sacrifice totally acceptable. Admetus is represented as a good and honorable man, but then his ethos is established in this play by the god Apollo in the opening scene, and even though it was written later it is hard not to remember the expose Euripides did on the god of truth in "Ion." Euripides adds a key twist in that Alcestis agrees to the sacrifice before she fully understands that her husband will suffer without her. She is brought back from the underworld by Hercules and restored to her relieved husband, but the play clearly characterizes Admetus as a selfish man.
�Medea� (trans. Rex Warner) is not really about infanticide, but rather about how "foreigners� were treated in Greece, best seen in the odes of the Chorus of Corinthian Women. The other key component of the play is the psychology of Medea and the way in which she constructs events to help convince herself to do the unspeakable deed and kill the two sons she has borne Jason. There is a very real sense in which Jason is the true villain of the piece and I do not think there is a comparable example in the extant Greek tragedies remain wherein a major mythological hero is made to look as bad as Euripides does in this play. The audience remembers the story of the Quest for the Golden Fleece and how Medea betrayed her family and her native land to help Jason. In some versions of the story Medea goes so far as to kill her brother, chop up his body, and throw it into the sea so their father, the King of Colchis, must stop his pursuit of the Argo to retrieve the body of his son. However, as a foreigner Medea is not allowed to a true wife to Jason, and when he has the opportunity to improve his fortune by marrying the princess of Corinth, Medea and everything she had done for him are quickly forgotten. To add insult to injury, Jason assures Medea that his sons will be well treated at the court while the King of Corinth, worried that the sorceress will seek vengeance, banishes her from the land. Within this context Medea constructs the fate of herself and her children.
"The Heracleidae" (trans. Ralph Gladstone) is usually been a minor political play by Euripides. It tells of how the children of Hercules were exiled by from their home by the murderous King Eurystheus of Argos. After their father's death the children and their mother fled from country to country in search of sanctuary until, of course, they came to Athens. At first, the Athenians are reluctant to grant asylum, since Eurystheus might bring political and military strife on the city. But Demophon, King of Athens, agrees to admit them. Indeed, the army of Eurystheus surrounds the city and the oracles declares that the safety of Athens depends on the sacrifice of a virgin. Macaria, one of the daughters of Hercules, offers herself as the sacrificial victim. The play has usually been considered to be nothing more than a glorification of Athens, but, of course, in more contemporary terms it is worth reconsidering this Greek tragedy as a look at the problem of political refugees; consequently, �The Heracleidae� works well as an analog to �Medea.�
"Hippolytus" (trans. David Grene) opens with Aphrodite declaring her power over all mankind and her intention to ruin Hippolytus, the son of Theseus and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, because he alone has had the audacity to scorn love. Instead, the young prince has devoted himself to hunting and Artemis, the chaste goddess of the hunt. As the instrument of Hippolytus' downfall, Aphrodite selects his stepmother Phaedra, by making her fall in love with him. What becomes interesting in Euripides' telling of the tale is how Phaedra resists the will of Aphrodite, having resolved to starve herself to death rather than ever reveal her infatuation. However, Phaedra's secret is revealed when in a state of semi-delirium she confesses to her nursm who, out of love for Phaedra, tries to solicit an appropriate response from a horrified Hippolytus. Mortified that her secret is now known, Phaedra hands herself, but trying to spare the reputation of her children she leaves a note accusing Hippolytus of having tried to rape her. When Theseus returns from a long journey only to find his wife dead at her own hand and his son implicated in her suicide, he pronounces a deadly curse upon Hippolytus. Ironically, despite his fate, Hippolytus is not a sympathetic figure and it is Phaedra who becomes the truly tragic character in the tale. Another consideration is the portrayal of Theseus, generally accounted the wisest and best of the heroes of classical mythology. Yet in this story the man whose objectivity and sense of fairness made him give Oedipus a resting place indulges in an angry impulse worthy of Hercules. Again, the irreverance of Euripides towards the gods and their offspring remains the uniting theme of this collection.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Grene and Lattimore's "Euripes I" 8 Jun 2009
By Ryan Mease - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Frankly, there's little to be improved on. The translations are highly readable, and they benefit from the high qualities I've mentioned in earlier reviews of earlier volumes in the Grene/Lattimore series.

One major thing is lacking--a detailed biography of Euripides, like those present in the volumes on Aeschylus and (I believe) Sophocles. Also, the editors continue to take their reader's knowledge of Greek mythology for granted. The reader should bring a weighty knowledge of Greek history and mythology (including of the Pelopennesian War, since this is Euripides), or be prepared to miss out on a few metaphors.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Tragedies 24 April 2008
By Taka - Published on Amazon.com
There is no question about it. Euripides is a genius. Having read the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles, I have to say Euripides takes it to the next level with all those fascinating characters whose psychologies are revealed on stage to great effect. Maybe it has to do with the near doing away of the annoying chorus that sings about fate and woe and gods and all the poetic drivel that stanches the flow of the narrative and ruins it more often than not (in my humble opinion). Euripides' characters are alive with real, identifiable emotions, and you can almost see them in front of you (well not quite, but you get the idea). Maybe I'm a fan of realism; but that doesn't alter the fact that Euripidean characters are interesting, and more so than the stiff paper cutouts of Aeschylus or the almost inhuman, idealized heroes of Sophocles (actions may speak louder than words, sure, but the thoughts and emotions of the tragic characters facing catastrophic disasters and terrible sufferings - something that doesn't happen to all of us - are just too juicy to be not expressed).

Two thumbs up.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as Engrossing as Euripides V--But Still Very Good 13 Jan 2012
By Stephen C. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Most of this collection made sense to me. "The Medea" is the best known of the four plays in this collection, and while I clearly knew what was going on in that play--As well as in "Hippolytus" and for the most part in "Alcestis"--"The Heracleidae" was so confusing, long-winded and ultimately baffling that I actually put this collection aside for a few weeks before I could resume it. In spite of that--Overall I continue to be impressed with the modernity of Euripides' writing ("..... Euripides marks the beginning of modern psychological tragedy"--David Greene (on page 160 of this text). It's amazing that 2,400 years after these plays were written--The very human issues brought to the fore by the playwright still resonate. Still--As an autodidactic academic--I'm not an expert in this genre. So after completing this book, I re-read the general introduction to this compilation by Richmond Lattimore (who translated "Alcestis"), as well the respective introductions by the three other translators--Rex Warner, Ralph Gladstone and David Greene. I was also inspired to read the Wikipedia Synopsis / Motivations of "Alcestis", as well as Wikipedia background information on "The Heracleidae", to help me to better understand those plays--If only superficially. In closing--I also recommend the film "Phaedra" that I saw a couple of years ago (starring Melina Mercouri and Anthony Perkins)--That picture being an excellent adaptation of "Hippolytus".

Stephen C. Bird, Author of "Catastrophically Consequential"
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three breath-taking Greek tragedies! 20 April 2005
By S. Schwartz - Published on Amazon.com
This is a review for three of Euripides' plays - "Medea", "Hippolytus" and "The Bacchae". If you are interested in Greek tragedy, you must read some of Euripides' plays. His work is as different as can be from some of the others (like Sophocles and Aescylus.) Contrary to these other two, Euripides did not abandon the religious view of life, but he redirected it and found the values which evoke reverence in spheres other than in moral spheres. The moral sphere, in his view, belonged exclusively to man. The gods, according to Euripides, are not man's friend, nor enemy, nor moral guides. They are the unchangeable facts of existence like sun, wind, rain, the sea and fire. He also has very definite views of the place that women must keep in society, and he states in no uncertain terms that they should not rise above their station. In "Medea," we are introduced to a complex and dynamic heroine villainess. She takes us through the whole gamut of human emotions. We see how she reduces the masculine elements to nothing in this play in her handling of Jason. In "Hippolytus" we see a wrong committed by one man against another and it results in true repentance and forgiveness. We also see another strong female character in Phaedra, and Euripides presents her sad case with truth and candor. "The Bacchae" is my favourite of the three, and it is a complex and disturbing drama. We get a good look at Euripides' ideas of what a god is like in his portrayal of Dionysus. We see how the gods are driven past all reason to achieve justice for past slights. There is no forgiveness in this play. I would love to see this play acted. It would be stunning.
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