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Agamemnon by Aeschylus
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Agamemnon

by Aeschylus

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Oresteia (1)

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English (13)  Dutch (1)  All languages (14)
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This is the more affordable of the two significant 20th Century editions of the Agamemnon, the other one being Fraenkel's magisterial three-volume edition (unfortunately priced only for the library or the specialist). Denniston and Page provide an edition with good apparatus, and engage intelligently with previous critics, providing a usable and helpful presentation of the text. ( )
  jsburbidge | Dec 30, 2015 |
The Agamemnon of Aeschylus was a play written by Aeschylus in 458 B.C. as part of a series (the Oresteia) that won him first prize in the archonship of Philocles. This version was translated into English rhyming verse by Gilbert Murray who also adds helpful footnotes.

Given that the original is in Greek, and this version has not only been translated into English but then made to rhyme in English, makes one wonder how true to the original spirit it remains. For example:
"Paris to Argos came;
Love of woman led him;
So God's altar he brought to shame,
Robbing the hand that fed him."

Author Philip Caputo offered the Oresteia as his one reading recommendation last year, which is why I wanted to read it. .

Agamemnon triumphantly returns home from the Trojan War. He is greeted by Clytemnestra who feigns the loving wife longing for her husband. She then lures Agamemnon and then Cassandra, his captured slave, into the house and murders them. The elders and comrades of Agamemnon move to take revenge against Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus. But Clytemnestra halts the dispute and everyone awaits the return of Agamemnon's son, Orestes, from Troy to exact the revenge.

Early in the play, I found language that sounds biblical enough to make me wonder either about the Greek translation or think about the Gospel authors' exposure to classic Greek literature.

"But the wise Shepherd knoweth his sheep,
And his eyes pierce deep
the faith like water that fawns and feigns."

My favorite part was when Agamemnon is replying to Clytemnestra, who is trying to tempt him to show hubris by treading on tapestries of crimson and gold. He responds by contrasting the honor he seeks with the respect shown only to gods:

"'Tis God that hath
Such worship; and for mortal man to press
Rude feet upon this broidered loveliness...
I vow there be danger in it. Let my road
Be honoured, surely; but as man, not god"

and:
"God giveth, for I reckon no man blest
Ere to the utmost goal his race be run.
So be it; and if, as this day I have done,
I shall do always, then I fear no ill."

But alas, poor Agamemnon:
"For woman's sake he endured and battled well,
And by a woman's hand he fell." ( )
  justindtapp | Jun 3, 2015 |
I found Lattimore's translation difficult to read and ended up supplementing it with the YouTube video of the (British) National Theater production of Tony Harrison's translation, which I found much easier to understand.

So for this particular edition I give 3 stars - rating above is for the play itself. ( )
  leslie.98 | Mar 14, 2014 |
This is the first part of the only Greek trilogy that we have. The play is set after the Trojan War in the city of Argos, of which Agamemnon is the ruler. Agamemnon's wife learns of the defeat of the Trojans and the imminent return of her husband through the use of a series of beacons. However while she is eagerly awaiting her husband's return, it is a different scenario from Odysseus' wife Penelope, who remained faithful to her husband for the twenty years he was away. Instead, while Agamemnon was away, she took a lover, Aegisthus, and is plotting her revenge for the murder of her daughter at Aulis.
There is a lot of background to this play, but that is not uncommon for Greek drama in that they are set within a complex historical context that has a lot of past events that all tie in together and also provide the precursor to a lot of other events. This is probably why the trilogy was so popular in that it enabled the playwright to look to the events that arose within the play (and also that Greek plays tend to be quite short).
Agamemnon is a man with a lot of enemies, but then that is to be expected in relation to a man that had set himself up as overlord of Greece. However, his father had tricked Aegisthus' father, Thyestes, into eating his children, but Aegisthus managed to escape, and by allowing Clytemnestra (Agamemnon's wife) to take him as her lover puts him in the best position to extract his revenge. However, Clytemnestra did not need much encouraging to murder Agamemnon, as prior to the war, he sacrificed his daughter, Iphagenia, so that the war would be successful (actually it was so that the winds would change to enable the fleet to sail to Troy). This is going to upset most mothers, though to add insult to injury, he brought Cassandra back as his prize, so he effectively arrives in Argos to face an angry wife with a woman that he picked up to take her place when she was not around. However, it is clear that Clytemnestra's actions were not looked upon all that well. While revenge is acceptable to the Greeks, it does not seem to be the case where it is the woman seeking revenge.
As with a lot of Aeschylus' plays, it seems to be very little on the action, and a lot on the storytelling. While Clytaemnestra does appear at the beginning of the play, it is not until a quarter of the way through that she first speaks. In fact, most of the major characters only appear for a short time. The only major character that is on the stage for an extended period of time is Cassandra, and she is trying to warn the Chorus of what is to come, but due to her curse nobody believes her. It seems that a majority of the play actually revolves around Cassandra and her prophecies, and also the curse that has been placed upon her to be able to predict the future, but is never listened to. In fact, she is treated like the barbarian that she is.
Clytaemnestra and Penelope are two contrasting women in Greek mythology. Penelope is seen as the epitome of female honour however Clytaemnestra is portrayed as the complete opposite. Penelope waits patiently for her husband to return, and uses every trick that she can think of to outwit the suitors who are eating her out of house and home. Throughout all that time she rebukes the advances of all of the man that come, and also resists the social pressure that she is under to remarry. Clytaemenstra is the opposite as she is a very proud and hot headed individual who is seeking revenge against her husband. She takes a lover, and then lays a trap for her husband for when she returns.
The play concludes with the idea that Argos has now become a tyranny. This is odd because it never was anything other than a tyranny. Agamemnon is actually not a very nice guy. The best portrayal of him would have been in the movie Troy, where he is portrayed as a vicious imperialist who is looking for any excuse to expand his power. We don't see that here, but rather see a man who has returned from ten years of war to find his house not only in shambles but also turned against him. In a way, this play is another example of returning from war and the difficulties of returning to one's previous life. I suspect that there are a lot of soldiers out there that could sympathise with the plight of Agamemnon, though these days, with much better communication systems, the breakdown of the family unit due to war is evident much sooner, but happens all too often. ( )
  David.Alfred.Sarkies | Jan 22, 2014 |
bookshelves: play-dramatisation, radio-3, published-458bc, winter-20132014, tbr-busting-2014, greece, mythology, tragedy, classic, lit-richer, fradio, gorefest, revenge
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from January 10 to 15, 2014

Coming Sunday 12/1/2014 to R3. The first part of Aeschylus's trilogy in a new version by playwright Simon Scardifield.

Clytemnestra Gonna Getcha

What a wonderful way to bust a TBR!

BBC Description: The Oresteia: Agamemnon By Aeschylus. A new version by Simon Scardifield.

The first of the three plays in Aeschylus' classic trilogy about murder, revenge and justice. Agamemnon returns home to Argos after his victory at Troy. But his wife, Clytemnestra, has determined to take terrible revenge for his sacrifice of their eldest daughter Iphigenia.

BBC Concert Orchestra Percussionists . . . . . Alasdair Malloy, Stephen Webberley and Stephen Whibley

Sound design: Colin Guthrie

Over the coming weeks, Drama on 3 will broadcast all three plays in the Oresteia in accessible, fast-moving, contemporary versions by three of this country's most imaginative writers. The second play, The Libation Bearers, is written by Ed Hime and the third, The Furies, is by Rebecca Lenkiewicz. ( )
  mimal | Jan 15, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (145 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Aeschylusprimary authorall editionscalculated
Arnott, Peter D.Ed. And Tr.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Barker, G. R.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boutens, P.C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bradfield CollegeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooke, Z. N.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Browning, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dearle, N. B.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Denniston , John DewarEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Denniston, J.D.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fagles, R.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fraenkel, EduardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gardiner, A. F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Greene, C. W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Groeneboom, P.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Helm, G. F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Higgins, J. C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hood, A. J. F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koolschijn, GerardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leach, G. K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
MacNiece, LouisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Milne, W. S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murray, GilbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murray, GilbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murray, GilbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nash, F. H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Page, Denys L.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Parsons, A. A. L.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reynolds, L. G. S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roos, S.H. deDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Zu Göttern fleh ich um Erlösung von der Pein
Jahrlangem Wächterdienstes. Auf den Arm gestützt,
Nach Hundes Art gestreckt auf der Atriden Dach,
Kenn ich genau der nächtlichen Gestirne Schar, (Übersetzer: Emil Staiger)
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Die viel Blut vergossen, entgehn dem Blick der Götter nicht.
Alle Mühe ist süss für jene, die glücklich vollendet.
Denn auch für Greise bleibt das Lernen jugendlich.
Unheiliges Werk gebäre weiter, was seiner Art gleicht, doch rechtschaffenes Haus leb' immer in schönen Kindern.
Doch immer hat des Volkes Stimme grosse Macht.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0521010756, Paperback)

Treating ancient plays as living drama. Classical Greek drama is brought vividly to life in this series of new translations. Students are encouraged to engage with the text through detailed commentaries, including0 suggestions for discussion and analysis. In addition, numerous practical questions stimulate ideas on staging and encourage students to explore the play's dramatic qualities. Agamemnon is suitable for students of both Classical Civilisation and Drama. Useful features include full synopsis of the play, commentary alongside translation for easy reference and a comprehensive introduction to the Greek Theatre. Agamemnon is aimed primarily at A-level and undergraduate students in the UK, and college students in North America.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:34 -0400)

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King Agamemnon returns victorious from the Trojan War, where dark foreshadowings develop.

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