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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 29 March 2007
I had read - and dismissed - Antigone in high school. Like many of the books I dismissed in my adolescence, it's actually heartbreakingly brilliant. Fagles' translation is beautiful and moving, contemporizing the language without destroying meaning or stretching plausibility to cater for short-attention spans. I found myself circling passages and it's not even part of my University reading list this semester. Reading something like these plays really reminds you how absolutely desolate Hollywood and Theatreland have become these days - almost nothing compares with Sophocles, and even the best of modern literature owes so much to the ancient masters that reading them inevitably changes the way you read everything else. Who can blame Freud for feeling so inspired?

As for Bernard Knox's introductions, I found they ellucidated the subtle nuances of the plays and enriched my reading experience, all while being riveting reads on their own. Perhaps even worth the price of the book alone, particularly the one introducing Oedipus the King.
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A seminal work of both literature and theatre, Oedipus still haunts us. Academics argue still over the 'meaning' of Oedipus: is he guilty? is he simply blind? what's the truth of the relationship between him and his mother Jocasta? If we could ever answer all these questions the play would lose its power and drop out of the canon. Read it in this excellent translation and make up your own mind.

Antigone has been reinterpreted repeatedly: as a feminist play, as a play about political oppression, as a play about a dysfunctional family. Antigone may be a difficult character to sympathise with or understand, but the poetry of the drama excels even that of Oedipus (especially the eerie, haunting 'hymn to Dionysus').

More human than Aeschylus, more stately than Euripides, the greatest tragedy is that only seven of Sophocles plays have come donw to us, and these 2 are the best.
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on 23 March 2005
Many readers would dismiss classical literature as staid and impenetrable. They couldn't be more wrong and this translation of the Theban Plays proves it. The powerful story of the destruction of a family is told with incredible pace and verve: Oedipus lacks awareness but longs for it and faces the blistering consequences of his straight questions; he and his daughter Antigone are reduced to homelessness and poverty; Antigone, alone eventually, is criminalized for her refusal to compromise to state law. These dramas of individuals facing the often irreversible consequences of their uncompromising actions will always be relevant. This touching, powerful translation in contemporary English is the most accessible to new readers.
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on 2 July 2015
I have the Kindle edition of this, and I'm amazed at the number of typos in the text. I chose the Penguin edition because of their reputation but I am disappointed in this.

That said, the translation and supporting text are excellent.
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on 29 July 2016
As usual with Greek literature, its important to get a good translation and Fagles is one of the best. It's also important to read at least some of the supporting text so that you have the background establised beforehand (Greek playwrights assumed their audience would already be familiar with this.
By today's standards the plot is simple and the cast pared down with little by way of scenic backdrop. However, the characters are fantastic and the themes so modern that the plays are very easy to read (as well as being quite short) as well as having a metaphysical quality all of their own.
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on 21 January 2001
I'm studying two of the plays from this book and I find them facinating. They've lost none of their impact over the centuries, and are very accessible to the casual reader. This is my prefered translation, and I can't wait to read the third play!
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on 6 December 2012
There is very much to commend in these plays by Sophocles. They are inspiring and contain much wisdom. Take these quotations from the plays for instance:

We know that experience of trials past gives strength to present counsel

To help his fellow men with all his power is man's most noble work

Law arms the weaker when the cause is just
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on 21 December 2015
Wow. Such book such read such amazingness Wow ! wow took so long to arrive Such I missed out on valuable education in class ! WOW ! such joy such tears ! Oedipus's mama WOW such incredible such happy such recommends this WOW such happy of tears such pages Such already annotated much sharing my knowledge with previous owner ! WOW !
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on 4 April 2001
These three plays are the best you'll come across. The finest tragedies ever written.They are also quite controversial for todays standards with some complex inbreeding.A must for anyone of any age. If you know nothing about the Ancient world you'll see it for the controversy, and if you know all about the ancient world you'll know that it surpasses any other work by any other author
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on 31 August 2009
While acknowledging the craftmanship of Prof. Fagles in translating those classics there are some problems with his "contemporary" english. Classical apoplexy nearly struck me down when i read Oedipus calling Tiresias "a scheming quack"...Useful but once read move on to a more elegant translation.
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