- Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
- Publisher: Dutton / Signet (1 July 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451527003
- ISBN-13: 978-0451527004
- Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 3.3 x 17.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,571,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Ten Plays Mass Market Paperback – 1 Jul 1999
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About the Author
Euripides, the youngest of the three great Athenian playwrights, was born around 485 BC of a family of good standing. He first competed in the dramatic festivals in 455 BC, coming only third; his record of success in the tragic competitions is lower than that of either Aeschylus or Sophocles. There is a tradition that he was unpopular, even a recluse; we are told that he composed poetry in a cave by the sea, near Salamis. What is clear from contemporary evidence, however, is that audiences were fascinated by his innovative and often disturbing dramas. His work was controversial already in his lifetime, and he himself was regarded as a clever poet, associated with philosophers and other intellectuals. Towards the end of his life he went to live at the court of Archelaus, king of Macedon. It was during his time there that he wrote what many consider his greates work, the Bacchae. When news of his death reached Athens in early 406 BC, Sophocles appeared publicly in mourning for him. Euripides is thought to have written about ninety-two plays, of which seventeen tragedies and one satyr-play known to be his survive; the other play which is attributed to him, the Rhesus, may in fact be by a later hand.
Paul Roche, a distinguished English poet and translator, is the author of The Bible s Greatest Stories. His other translations include Euripides: Ten Plays (Signet), Oedipus Plays of Sophocles (Meridian) and The Orestes Plays of Aeschylus (Meridian)."
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
I have never read Euripides before this, so I can’t compare this to another translation. It is an interesting one, more concerned with accuracy to what was stated than of trying to emulate Greek poetic meter (as for Instance “Electra and other Plays”, which was my first foray into the ancient Greek theater, was more going for). The more notable tragedies include ‘Electra’, ‘Medea’, and the posthumous completed ‘Iphigenia at Aulis’. Among the standouts for me of the Euripides’ works are Ion, ‘Alcestis’, and ‘Electra’ (though I prefer the Sophocles version of the last).
My personal favorite of them all is ‘The Trojan Women’. It takes place the field of Troy just after the epic war’s conclusion, the city burnt down and many legends having been killed on both sides. Survivors of the conquered city, set to be slaves or concubines for the Greeks, are led off by the men to the ships to be taken away forever from their land. Among these captives are the widows of the late King Priam and Hector—Hecuba and Cassandra—and also Helen, wife of Menelaus, the woman whose going to Troy was the catalyst of the war. Though this was written by a Greek for Greeks, the sympathy is primarily with the Trojans who suffer, grieve, and in one notable case go mad from emotional hardship, while the Greeks sort of come off as pompous victors. But at its heart it is a set of entertaining and emotional interactions, occasionally grisly and disturbing as these tragedies tend to be (though this isn’t the most depressing story of the bunch) in the conflicts dealing with great moral issues about what a war’s aftermath, the relationship of conqueror and conquered, should be.
Overall if you want a first foray into Euripides this should be a good read. If you’re looking for something that tries to emulate the style of the original dramas, then you might be a little disappointed, but it’s an interesting read none-the-less. There were one or two of the tragedies that were a bit of a slog, but most of them quite engaged me for most of the duration.
The plays are heartbreaking...be warned. The Trojan Women and Medea have to be among the most shattering things ever written about war, love, faithlessness and despair, and I choose them only because the others are just slightly less monumental. These ten plays will bake themselves on your heart.
My ONLY criticism, and it is a small one, is that the glossary of names and places at the end of the book, which is 4 meagre pages long, leaves out most of the things I wanted to know. In a future edition I would recommend that several more pages be included that have names on them that most of us would have to look up. (Who is Achilles' son? Neoptolemus. What is Amyclae? An ancient town near Sparta.) By all means buy this edition, but if you are not intimately conversant with the myths and stories of ancient Greece, be prepared to look things up. I found myself referring many times to Edith Hamilton's wonderful Mythology.
Euripides is in many ways the most "modern" of the ancient Greek dramatists in the way he plunges the psychological depths of his characters ... most of whom stood as "larger than life" figures in the works of his ancestors and contemporaries (e.g. Homer, Aeschylus, and Sophocles) until Euripides humanizes them. As Sophocles is reported to have said, where Sophocles portrayed these characters as "they ought to be", Euripides portrayed them as "they actually were". The full genius of Euripides' characterization cannot be appreciated except for in comparison with the often "larger than life" treatment given by Homer and Aeschylus. Euripides is particularly gifted in his work with female characters such as Clytemnestra, Medea, and Alcestis.
With his surprisingly "modern" treatments of these famous characters and scenes from Greek history and mythology, Euripides ushered in a new era of theater. Echos of Euripides' works can be heard in the great dramatic history of Europe, all the way to the present day. This particular volume contains many of Euripides' best works at a good price with good translations, making it an especially worthwhile purchase.