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Plays: "Ajax", "Electra", "Oedipus Tyrannus" v. 1 (Loeb Classical Library) Hardcover – 14 Oct 1994

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 492 pages
  • Publisher: Loeb (14 Oct. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674995570
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674995574
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 11.8 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Hugh Lloyd-Jones was a very natural choice of editor...He gives a 22-page introduction on Sophocles' life, together with a very brief consideration of the seven plays and a short guide to further reading.

Sir Hugh is providing, that is, what Nabokov, in rendering "Eugene Onegin", called a metaphrase--a scrupulous, bare explanation of the original...Plainspun prose indeed, but attractively diaphanous. We can be pretty sure that these were the exact lexical intentions of Sophocles...Reading the seven Sophocles plays in the new Loeb version only confirms his impenetrable greatness.--Donald Lyons "New Criterion "

From the Back Cover

Sophocles (497/6-406 BC), the second of the three great tragedians of Athens and by common consent one of the world's greatest poets, wrote more than 120 plays. Only seven of these survive complete, but we have a wealth of fragments, from which much can be learned about Sophocles' language and dramatic art. This volume presents a collection of all the major fragments, ranging in length from two lines to a very substantial portion of the satyr play The Searchers. Prefatory notes provide frameworks for the fragments of the known plays. Many of the Sophoclean fragments were preserved by quotation in other authors; others, some of considerable size, are known to us from papyri discovered during the past century. Among the lost plays of which we have large fragments, The Searchers shows the god Hermes, soon after his birth, playing an amusing trick on his brother Apollo; Inachus portrays Zeus coming to Argos to seduce Io, the daughter of its king; and Niobe tells how Apollo and his sister Artemis punish Niobe for a slight upon their mother by killing her twelve children. Throughout the volume, as in the extant plays, we see Sophocles drawing his subjects from heroic legend.

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Format: Hardcover
I have been motivated to write this largely because of the one star review it has currently been given. That reviewer appears to be under the impression that there is only one reason to write a translation, and only one translator's art. Under their criteria, apparently, this book's English text is appalling and meritless. Aside from the fact that they have only reviewed the half of the book in English (ignoring the other half in Greek), I could not disagree more vehemently.

Only one of the arts of the translator is to render the poetic or literary quality of the source work in English. This is what you want if you're picking up a Penguin edition or an Oxford World Classic. Then you will want a translation which gets you as close as possible to the "spirit" of the original. It may not be terribly accurate or close to the Greek text, but that is not the aim.

This is not what Loebs are, nor what they should be.

My fellow reviewer has perhaps failed to notice that Loebs are parallel texts. They do not do this because Greek is aesthetically pleasing. Loebs are intended as tools for Classicists so that they can more easily read the Greek. If they are having trouble with a passage then their eye flicks over to the translation. Thus Mr Lloyd-Jones' text might be "cold and vacuous" to my fellow reviewer, but what he is failing to appreciate is that it is an excellent aid, following the original Greek and its lines very closely.

Some of the Loebs do, I admit, have excellent poetic translations. But these are rare, and (as in the case of Smyth's Aeschylus) have been phased out in favour of editions that speak "Loebese" rather than English. If you are simply in search a readable English translation of Sophocles to peruse at your leisure then no, by no means buy this text. But if you are in need of a decently edited Greek text with critical apparatus, along with a solidly useful English translation, then this book is excellent.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the investment. 13 Sept. 2006
By Shadowgraphs - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you haven't read anything by Sophocles and want to read him for fun, I'd suggest getting the Fagles translations of the Theban plays, followed by the Sophocles II volume published by University of Chicago. That will get you every complete play we have by him and is a good way to start.

However, if you've read one (or even all) of the plays in this volume, know some Greek, and want to go a bit deeper, this is the book you're looking for. The translations in this volume are extremely, almost unusually, literal. While the two most prominent translations (Fagles and Greene) waver from the text at times for poetic value, Lloyd-Jones does nothing of the sort. For the most part, what you see on the left side is as close as it gets in English to the Greek on the right side. This is really helpful for those who know enough Greek to be curious about what Sophocles is up to but not enough to actually read the text in the Greek without a lexicon.

I generally see Loeb books as investments, due to their high costs. This is one investment that has paid off for me. Highly recommended for anyone interested in Oedipus the King, Ajax, or Electra (although let's be honest: you probably want this more for Oedipus the King than for the other two plays).
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reading for Enjoyment 5 Jun. 2005
By L. Jordan Bickel - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I honestly enjoyed reading these plays. Especially the first and third. The translation is easy to read and flows really well. I picked these up to supplement some lines of study that I'm pursuing but ended up enjoying them in their own right and for the purposes natural to them. These are not dusty old dry plays - exactly the opposite - these are vibrant introductions to the ancient greek world. I highly recommend you read these - and I recommend this edition and most especially the wonderful translation.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars oedipus tyrannus 10 July 2005
By No-man - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This play is a fantastic view at what some ancient people in Athens thought about their leader Pericles. I love this play, and can only justify Loeb Classics as the best text. I challenge anyone to read this play and not feel a strange need to wickedly laugh out loud as the story unfolds.
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