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The Oresteia

The Oresteia by Aeschylus
By: (525/524 BC - c. 455/456 BC)

The Oresteia is a trilogy by Aeschylus, one of the foremost playwrights of ancient Greece. It encompasses three plays: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Furies. It tells the tragic tale of the House of Atreus, whose inhabitants have been cursed and are doomed to play out their bloody, vengeful destinies. At the beginning of the first part, the Trojan War has ended and the Greek general, Agamemnon, is returning victorious to his wife Clytemnestra. Yet she finds it difficult to forgive his sacrifice of their daughter, Iphigenia, who was killed to ensure the Greek fleet fair winds in their voyage to Troy. Her desire for vengeance, and its dire consequences, instigates the action of these poetic tragedies.

First Page:

NINE GREEK DRAMAS

BY AESCHYLUS, SOPHOCLES, EURIPIDES AND ARISTOPHANES

TRANSLATIONS BY E.D.A. MORSHEAD E.H. PLUMPTRE, GILBERT MURRAY AND B.B. ROGERS

WITH INTRODUCTIONS AND NOTES

THE HOUSE OF ATREUS. (Aeschylus)

AGAMEMNON

THE LIBATION BEARERS

THE FURIES

TRANSLATED BY E.D.A. MORSHEAD

INTRODUCTORY NOTE

Of the life of Aeschylus, the first of the three great masters of Greek tragedy, only a very meager outline has come down to us. He was born at Eleusis, near Athens, B. C. 525, the son of Euphorion. Before he was twenty five he began to compete for the tragic prize, but did not win a victory for twelve years. He spent two periods of years in Sicily, where he died in 456, killed, it is said, by a tortoise which an eagle dropped on his head. Though a professional writer, he did his share of fighting for his country, and is reported to have taken part in the battles of Marathon, Salamis, and Plataea.

Of the seventy or eighty plays which he is said to have written, only seven survive: "The Persians," dealing with the defeat of Xerxes at Salamis; "The Seven against Thebes," part of a tetralogy on the legend of Thebes; "The Suppliants," on the daughters of Danaüs; "Prometheus Bound," part of a trilogy, of which the first part was probably "Prometheus, the Fire bringer," and the last, "Prometheus Unbound"; and the "Oresteia," the only example of a complete Greek tragic trilogy which has come down to us, consisting of "Agamemnon," "Choephorae" (The Libation Bearers), and the "Eumenides" (Furies)... Continue reading book >>


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