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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greek Tragedy, 16 Jun 2010
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Prometheus Bound and Other Plays: The Suppliants; Seven Against Thebes; The Persians (Classics) (Paperback)
Aeschylus was a prolific playwright in his time, it is known that he wrote well over seventy odd plays but alas only seven still remain fully intact. Of those seven four are here presented in this slim volume. In these modern times it is hard to believe that Aeschylus was a pioneer, but whereas before him actors only conversed with the Chorus they now also interacted with each other, arguably a giant step forward in drama.

Arguably Aeschylus brought something else to the theatre. No longer were there loads of scenes of blood lust but actors had to learn lines and achieve realistic dialogue between themselves, the true art of acting. Therefore these plays are more about dialogue than any action. Prometheus Bound is the story of Prometheus being chained to the rocks and his discourse with others, including his prophecy to Io. The Suppliants is a tale of Danaus' daughters who have to leave their homeland to avoid arranged marriages. Seven Against Thebes is the tale of the downfall of the last remainders of the Oedipus family. The Persians is about the defeat of the Persians at Salamis and a portrayal of Xerxes.

There isn't loads of action here but there is great dialogue, which has made these plays still admired and which gained Aeschylus the accolade of being a classic playwright shortly after his death. There is an introduction here by Philip Velacott although I should warn you that this is in much smaller print that the actual plays themselves, also there are some notes. If you are interested in the history of the theatre or Greek tragedies as well as those who may have to study them, this is a great volume.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful text for English Students, 11 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Prometheus Bound and Other Plays: The Suppliants; Seven Against Thebes; The Persians (Classics) (Paperback)
I bought this book because my course demanded it, but I've actually found myself really enjoying the content! The layout is clear and easy to follow. There is a short introduction and a short bank of notes at the back. Being a Penguin product, the book itself is very good quality and arrived on time and in great condition. This really is the bare text though- if you want additional critical reading, context or commentary you might need other books as well.
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15 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Old yet ageless tragedy by "the other Greek tragedian", 29 Nov 2002
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Prometheus Bound and Other Plays: The Suppliants; Seven Against Thebes; The Persians (Classics) (Paperback)
In life and death, Aeschylus is overshadowed by Sophocles. The most tragic thing about Aeschylus is the fact that the great majority of his work was lost in the mists of time. Three of these plays are the only surviving members of three different trilogies. The Suppliants is the conclusion of Aeschylus' own Oedipus trilogy, focusing on the final battle of the twice-cursed sons of Oedipus. Not only was this play overshadowed by Sophocles' Antigone, the final few pages are apparently spurious; someone a half century after it was written felt compelled to add Antigone and Ismene to the action, countering the writer's original presentation of the tragedy. The Persians is interesting because it is based on real history, namely the routing of the Persian army by the Athenians at Salamis. Eight years are all that separate the battle and Aeschylus' dramatization of it.
I must say that tragedy is the right word for these plays. I would dub them "poor me" dramas. In each case, one or more characters suffers an ignominious fate and bemoans his/her/their lot in life, sometimes cursing the gods to boot. In Prometheus Bound, the giant Prometheus has been chained to a rock on a mountainside as divine punishment for stealing fire from Hephaestas and giving it to humans. Prometheus is proudly defiant and has a word or two to say to just about every man and god he is exposed to. The Persians must have been received very well by the Athenians because it casts Persia and her king Xerxes in a pitiful light. When a long-overdue messenger arrives home with word that the Persian army has been decimated, the whole community wails and mourns their fate; when the defeated Xerxes arrives, he takes the suffering to yet another level, his pride destroyed and replaced with self-loathing and defeatism. Seven Against Thebes details the attack by Polyneices and his followers on his brother Eteocles and the city of Thebes. While much of the play consists of the naming of the opposing champions to lead the fight at each gate, I was most interested in the dialogue between the chorus of Theban women and Eteocles. The women rush in fright to the statues of the gods, pleading for mercy and grieving over their fate. Eteocles is offended by their defeatist words, saying such talk will spread doubt and fear among the city's defenders and is an injustice reflecting a loss of faith in the gods whose likenesses they are embracing.
I consider The Suppliants the best of these four dramas, as it contains some action whereas the other plays are basically static in setting. The story of Io, a fair maiden turned into a cow/human creature and cursed by a maddening gadfly by Hera due to Zeus' pursuit of her, forms a provocative background to this tale. Io's descendants number 50 women and 50 men, and the lustful men seek to forcibly take their female cousins for wives. The women run to Argos and seek the protection of its king and people, setting the stage for a great battle (which unfortunately takes place in a lost drama).
I enjoyed these dramas, although I can't say I would care to see them presented on stage. For the most part, nothing happens, but everyone is miserable and none too shy to broadcast that misery. There can be no mistaking these plays for comedies, yet they do speak to timeless matters of the human spirit even today.
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