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Pocket Guide to Greek & Roman Drama (Faber…

Pocket Guide to Greek & Roman Drama (Faber Pocket Guides)

by John Burgess

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_The Faber Pocket Guide to Greek and Roman Drama_ describes itself as a resource for the theatregoer, student and general reader, deceptively suggesting that the entries on classical playwrights and their works are quite basic--akin to the rudimentary descriptions of, for example, birds and wildflowers found in other "pocket" or "field guides." In reality, the guide provides entries that are not merely accessible but also keenly insightful.

The entires--which include a general introduction to ancient drama, introductions to the dramatists themselves, and for each play a description of the myth it is based on, the action of the play, an acute analysis of the play, and very brief notes on translations and performances--are concise, but provide a great deal of information, often times surpassing in quality other more lengthy assessments. Though aimed at the general reader as well as the student, the Guide never talks down to the reader. There is a brief, selected bibliography, which often includes book that are _not_ originally designed for the general reader, which impressed me. While the Pocket Guide fills its role as a reference book quite well, I found it entertaining enough that I got caught up reading random entries just for fun.

It should be noted that the Guide doesn't include analysis of every play by every playwright--it favors the Greek tragedians (all the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles are examined, and almost all by Euripides), but, for example, provides analysis of only four of Seneca's eight, and pseudo-Seneca's two, tragedies. However, even where fewer plays are analzyed, the overall description of the playwright and his place in the history of ancient drama is never skimpy. If a student were to look for information on a play not included, the framework provided by the Pocket Guide would be useful in putting together that information found by the reader.

Overall, while the Pocket Guide doesn't always give detailed descriptions of every single extant drama, I found it overwhelmingly accurate and useful. Definitely worth having on the shelf of both a general reader as well more advanced students and scholars. Four and a half stars. ( )
  astuo | Jul 31, 2008 |
This was a very useful guide as I read through the extant work of the Greek tragedians. It doesn't go into any depth on any one thing, but it gives you a good summary, overview, and some points to consider as you read each play. I think this is a good way to approach the plays the first time: don't read an in-depth analysis beforehand. The minimal guidance that this gives you is ideal. If you're lost, often keeping a couple simple things-to-look-for in mind will help. ( )
  mikebridge | Oct 27, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0571219063, Paperback)

This refreshingly accessible guide contains synopses and detailed commentary on 40 plays by all the major dramatists - Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Menander, Plautus, Terence and Seneca - and advice about the best translations. The addition of playwright biographies, together with a survey of the ancient theatre and its social and political background, make this an indispensable resource for the theatregoer, student and general reader.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:16 -0400)

This accessible guide contains synopses and detailed commentary on 40 plays by all the major dramatists - Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Menander, Plautus, Terence and Seneca - and advice about the best translations.

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