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on 8 October 2014
after buying a disappointing collected edition, went for the safe penguin edition - good introduction and notes, great plays, brutal and beautiful.
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The Oresteia is not just a seminal work of European literature but also one of the founding texts of western theatre. The only complete trilogy still extant from Classical Athens, it tells the story of Agamemnon's return from Troy and his murder by his unfaithful wife Clytemnestra. The 2nd play takes place years later when Agamemnon's children, Electra and Orestes, have to struggle with their consciences over whether to revenge their father by killing their mother. The third plays brings the trilogy to a conclusion as Orestes, pursued by the Furies for the crime of matricide, is brought to Athens and finally purified of his crime.

Dark, grim, compelling and poetic, this really will haunt you.
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on 9 February 2015
excellent translation with very good notes. I reccomend this book.
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on 26 July 2016
Essential for classics study. Book contains excellent intro and play analysis.
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on 21 April 2002
Reading plays is never easy, particularly ancient ones with such a very different style to something like George Bernard Shaw. If you can get into it then it is well worth it and you will really be hanging on to the edge of your seat by the third part, but you need to be patient and I highly recommend at least some background knowledge so you know the reference points. Overall very good and well worth reading.
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on 29 January 2017
Very satisfied customer. Thank you.
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on 27 July 2010
Of the seventy plays written by Aeschylus only seven survive and parts of these have been pieced together from references in other works. The Oresteia is even more of a rarity since it is the only trilogy that survives from Ancient Greek drama and those in the know regard it as a masterpiece. I doubt very much if the casual reader would agree with such an analysis, and a considerable amount of learning and knowledge about Ancient Greek mythology, rituals, customs and poetry is needed to really appreciate this work. There is however an interesting discussion about justice at the core of the book that shows how Athens develops a system of law to replace the ancient justice of the Furies.

The plot is fairly straightforward and pretty easy to follow. Agamemnon, having led the Greeks to victory over the Trojans, returns home where his wife Clytaemnestra murders him in revenge for the death of her daughter Iphigeneia. Clytaemnestra now marries Agamemnon's cousin, Aegisthus but in the second act they are both murdered by her son, Orestes, who has returned from exile. Finally in the third act Orsetes is put on trial for killing his own mother. Athena, the Goddess of wisdom, oversees the trial and through this evolves a new system of trial by jury rather than the revenge of the Furies previously invoked for such crimes.

For the most part the language is kept simple and the actions and motivations of the parties are clear to a modern reader but a lot of the texture is lost, and some enjoyment of the piece, if the reader doesn't have a reasonable knowledge of mythology and ancient customs and a very good understanding of poetic rhyme is needed to appreciate the beat and syntax of the poetic form of the play.

The notes at the back are not bad but it's frustrating to have to keep flicking back and forth and these would have been better alongside the text. There is a very academic essay about the play at the front that I found very hard going and is best skipped until after reading the text itself.
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on 28 July 2016
You have to remember this was written 500 BC long before the Bible and so represents the earliest European literature. The Fagles translation is a must - earlier translations are free but very hard to read.
It is important to understand the backdrop before Agamemnon starts - the family genealogy back to Pelops - as this is the root of the troubles in the play and Aeschylus assumes the reader will already know this. It is also helpful to read up on the themes of the trilogy as it will help unravel some of the tortuous reasoning contained in the Eumenides.
Trial by jury makes its first appearance - many countries today still do not have this!
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on 21 November 2016
great, thank you
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on 4 January 2015
lovly book
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