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on 5 May 2014
These plays will make you go through various emotions while reading each play. Alcetis is hilarious for the interaction between the son and father, 'vex your ears with the truth !' but Medea of course is the star of these plays. Some of the greatest writing of all time and definitely along with Dido, the best story of love in its deepest and rawest form i've read.
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on 30 April 2017
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on 7 August 2017
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on 16 August 2009
Although writing around 450B.C., Euripedes still holds importance for anyone interested in modern drama. Indeed, I came to Euripedes et al. because of "The Wire" creator David Simon's admission that large parts of his show's plot and characterisation were "stolen" (his words) from the three great Greek tragedians (the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles).

Euripedes holds a reputation as possibly the darkest of all the Greek playwrights (so dark that he was deeply unpopular in Athens, repeatedly mocked by Aristophanes in his plays, and forced into exile in the last years of his life). "Medea" is probably his most famous work, and indeed it is exceedingly dark stuff, dealing with child murder and revenge just for starters.

But what makes Euripedes' work endure is the extreme economy he employs in his works, along with the means of expressing this economy: "Medea" in this version runs to perhaps fifty pages, and he was the first playwright to use everyday, idiomatic language as the language of the gods and classical heroes. In so doing, "Medea" and the other works featured here are a reminder of the endureing power of sparse and direct language.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 October 2012
Vellacott's translations of Euripides' tragedies are not new and neither are they, strictly speaking, true to the letter of the Greek originals - by that I mean they don't work well as cribs and so are no replacement for the Loeb editions for anyone needing help with reading Greek. Where they come into their own, however, is in turning these plays into accessible and sometimes powerful English.

As the last of the great Athenian tragedians whose work has come down to us, Euripides is, inevitably, responding to the tragic visions of Aeschylus and Sophocles. His plays can be quite difficult as they are unexpected, shifting and complicated: Medea is a fine example where we are, rather shockingly, made to feel at least some measure of sympathy for Medea herself despite her rather wonderful killing spree and her controvertial murder of her children. The chorus, too, whose response we, to some extent, mimic, show an empathy with Medea's situation and guide our moral response to the play to its still unexpected ending.

So I like these translations which are dynamic and vigorous: they may not be literally tied to the Greek originals but they convey well the spirit and essence of the texts.
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on 16 December 2014
This is a fine collection of some of the most recognisable classic literature. The presentation in the book is good and easy to follow, and the plays themselves are extraordinary, touching on timeless human themes, the ideas in these plays have been recycled countless times through the ages in our culture. I would thoroughly recommend this book to all literature lovers
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on 25 November 2013
I had this, but lost it so this, the volume containing "The Bacchae" was a replacement and as I said, in the "Medea review, Euripides is one of my favourite Greek authors.
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on 29 May 2001
Carefully translated, this informative copy allows for both first time readers and experts to enjoy Medea, Heracles and Electra. The sordid tales of tragedy are poetically woven into spoken form by Euripedes, and footnotes help the reader understand such oddities such as Medea's magical powers, or the murder of Electra's father. A highly enjoyable read, the Penguin Classics have again created a compilation useful in study and enjoyable in leisure.
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on 6 February 2012
I only read the Medea so the review is only for this play. Medea is a very good play and although what happens is horrific, it shows the pain that she went through and how to make Jason feel the same pain. Medea is left as a foreigner and has no rights and speaks with great logos and pathos about the vows he had made to her and he made those vows in front of the gods which is why the gods stay on her side. She becomes a strong female unlike some Greek women although with the comptemorary Greek audience they would see Medea as sneaky and full of tricks which is what they believed most women to be like. I really enjoyed reading this play and if you take it as an entertaining piece it really is great and many have complained about the ending but I think for it to end any other way would have ruined it because she did everything for Jason and was left with nothing and in the end jason was left that way.
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on 22 April 2006
I had to read both Medea and Hecabe as part of background reading to some courses on Greek Mythology and Shakespeare during my degree. 'Medea' came as a surprise offshoot mythological tale to the aftermath of Jason (from the Argonauts) and Medea's union towards the end of Apollonius' 'Jason and the Golden Fleece'. The romantic, flowery love affair we see at the end of the tale turns out a sordid, tragic affair some 10 years later in Euripides' version after they're married with children. Betrayal, jealousy, self-doubt and eventual infanticide and suicide makes it one of the most horrific tales of human tragedy.

What makes Euripides so brilliant is his very human portrayal of the characters. You feel for them, you empathize with them, and you can anticipate their every emotional decision and thoughts of self-reflection. 'Hecabe', similarly deals with the immediate aftermath of the Trojan War and the death of the Trojans at the hands of the Achaens. Hecuba is the wife of Priam and mother of all the major Trojan warriors: Hector, Paris, Aeneus. She is grieving for the death of her husband and all her sons, except one and her daughter. She witness their deaths too, and her agony at the merciless hands of the Greeks (including Odysseus, whom we see here as very severe and inhumane, in contrast to his central heroic role in The Odyssey) make her suffering tragic beyond words. It was recently played in the West End by two productions in 2005.

I would suggest this book simply for the mastery of Euripides and his psychological dimension in human tragedy. Just because it is 'ancient' literature and a translation of the old Greek, does not in any way detract it from being so relevant and significant to the modern world. Raw human emotions, and you don't get that in today's literature much.
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