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Tragedies

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

Book cover Agamemnon (Browning Translation)

The play Agamemnon details the homecoming of Agamemnon, King of Argos, from the Trojan War. Waiting at home for him is his wife, Clytemnestra, who has been planning his murder, partly as revenge for the sacrifice of their daughter, Iphigenia, and partly because in the ten years of Agamemnon's absence Clytemnestra has entered into an adulterous relationship with Aegisthus, Agamemnon's cousin and the sole survivor of a dispossessed branch of the family (Agamemnon's father, Atreus, killed and fed Aegisthus's brothers to Aegisthus's father, Thyestes, when he took power from him), who is determined to regain the throne he believes should rightfully belong to him.

Book cover Furies (Morshead Translation)

The Oresteia is a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus concerning the end of the curse on the House of Atreus. The name derives from the character Orestes, who sets out to avenge his father's murder. The only extant example of an ancient Greek theater trilogy, the Oresteia won first prize at the Dionysia festival in 458 BC. When originally performed, it was accompanied by Proteus, a satyr play that would have followed the trilogy. Proteus has not survived, however. In all likelihood the term "Oresteia" originally referred to all four plays; today it generally designates only the surviving trilogy...

Book cover Agamemnon (Morshead Translation)

The Oresteia is a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus concerning the end of the curse on the House of Atreus. The name derives from the character Orestes, who sets out to avenge his father's murder. The only extant example of an ancient Greek theater trilogy, the Oresteia won first prize at the Dionysia festival in 458 BC. When originally performed, it was accompanied by Proteus, a satyr play that would have followed the trilogy. Proteus has not survived, however. In all likelihood the term "Oresteia" originally referred to all four plays; today it generally designates only the surviving trilogy...

By: Sophocles (497 BC - 406 BC)

Book cover Philoctetes (Campbell Translation)

Philoctetes is a play by Sophocles (Aeschylus and Euripides also each wrote a Philoctetes but theirs have not survived). The play was written during the Peloponnesian War. It is one of the seven tragedies of Sophocles to have survived the ravages of time in its complete form. It was first performed at the Festival of Dionysus in 409 BC, where it won first prize. The story takes place during the Trojan War (after the majority of the events of the Iliad, and before the Trojan Horse). It describes the attempt by Neoptolemus and Odysseus to bring the disabled Philoctetes, the master archer, with them to Troy.

By: Euripides (484 BC - 406 BC)

Book cover Medea (Way Translation)

Medea is an ancient Greek tragedy written by Euripides, based upon the myth of Jason and Medea and first produced in 431 BCE. The plot centers on the actions of Medea, a barbarian and the wife of Jason; she finds her position in the Greek world threatened as Jason leaves her for a Greek princess of Corinth. Medea takes vengeance on Jason by killing Jason's new wife as well as her own children with him, after which she escapes to Athens to start a new life. Considered shocking to the playwright's contemporaries, Medea and the suite of plays that it accompanied in the City Dionysia festival came last in the festival that year...

By: William Rowley (1585-1626)

Book cover Changeling

The Changeling is a sensational 1622 tragicomedy by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley that comprises two intertwining plots. The first involves Beatrice-Joanna, daughter of the governor of Alicante, and her unruly passion for Alsemero, despite the fact that she is engaged to Alonzo de Piracquo. She enlists the aid of her father's servant De Flores to kill Alonzo so that she can marry Alsemero. However, she does not anticipate that De Flores, who is in love with her, will demand payment for the deed...

By: William Shakespeare (1554-1616)

Book cover Romeo and Juliet (version 4)

Two households, both alike in dignity,In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.From forth the fatal loins of these two foesA pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;Whose misadventured piteous overthrowsDo with their death bury their parents' strife.

By: John Ford (1586-1639)

Book cover 'Tis Pity She's a Whore

One of the most shocking plays produced in England during the reign of Charles I, 'Tis Pity She's A Whore chronicles the disastrous results of an incestuous affair between fatalistic Italian siblings, Giovanni and Annabella. As suitors vie for Annabella's hand, various webs of deception and revenge intertwine, culminating in a bloody finale. CAST LISTBonaventura, a Friar/ Bergetto, Nephew to Donado: alanmapstoneA Cardinal, Nuncio to the Pope AND Banditti: Algy PugSoranzo, a Nobleman: tovarischFlorio,...

By: Anonymous

Book cover King Leir and His Three Daughters

King Leir is an anonymous Elizabethan play about the life of the ancient Celtic king Leir of Britain. It was published in 1605 but was entered into the Stationers' Register on 15 May 1594. The play has attracted critical attention principally for its relationship with King Lear, Shakespeare's version of the same story.

By: Clemence Dane (1888-1965)

Book cover Bill of Divorcement

A Bill of Divorcement describes a day in the lives of a middle-aged British woman named Margaret "Meg" Fairfield, her daughter Sydney, Sydney's fiancé Kit Humphreys, Meg's fiancé Gray Meredith, and Meg's husband Hilary, who escapes after spending almost twenty years in a mental hospital. A 1932 film of the same name was directed by George Cukor and starred Katharine Hepburn and John Barrymore.

By: Thomas Middleton (1580-1627)

Book cover Revenger's Tragedy

"When the bad bleeds, then is the tragedy good." The Revenger's Tragedy is a bloody Jacobean drama centering on Vindici, whose beloved has been murdered by the Duke. Aided by his brother Hippolito, Vindici plans to take revenge not only on the Duke, but on his lecherous Duchess (who is having an affair with her stepson, Spurio) and his sons Lussurioso (Lust), Ambitioso (Ambition), and Supervacuo (Excess). The play was published anonymously in 1606 and for several centuries was attributed to Cyril Tourneur; more recent scholarship has pointed to Thomas Middleton as the likely author...

By: Benito Pérez Galdós (1843-1920)

Book cover Electra

Originally staged in the Teatro Español in 1901, Electra is a controversial Spanish drama that documents the trials and tribulations of its innocent heroine. Electra is a young woman of unknown parentage who is raised in a convent in France and, after the death of her mother Eleuteria, adopted by her aunt and uncle. Electra soon falls in love with the scientist Maximo, but an intricate web of rumors and lies threatens to ruin their relationship. In this play, Benito Pérez Galdós tackles a number of hot-button themes: fanaticism, superstition, social justice, rationalism, and the powers of science.

By: Euripides (484 BC - 406 BC)

Book cover Iphigenia in Aulis (Way translation)

Iphigenia in Aulis (Ancient Greek: Ἰφιγένεια ἐν Αὐλίδι) is the last extant work of the playwright Euripides. Written between 408, after the Oresteia, and 406 BC, the year of Euripides' death, the play was first produced the following year in a trilogy with The Bacchae and Alcmaeon in Corinth by his son or nephew, Euripides the Younger, and won the first place at the Athenian city Dionysia. The play revolves around Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek coalition before and during the Trojan War, and his decision to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, to appease the goddess Artemis and allow his troops to set sail to preserve their honour in battle against Troy...

By: Sophocles (497 BC - 406 BC)

Book cover Electra (Storr Translation)

Electra or Elektra is a Greek tragedy by Sophocles. Its date is not known, but various stylistic similarities with the Philoctetes (409 BC) and the Oedipus at Colonus (401 BC) lead scholars to suppose that it was written towards the end of Sophocles' career. Set in the city of Argos a few years after the Trojan war, it recounts the tale of Electra and the vengeance that she and her brother Orestes take on their mother Clytemnestra and step father Aegisthus for the murder of their father, Agamemnon.

By: Euripides (484 BC - 406 BC)

Book cover Electra (Murray Translation)

Electra (the Unmated One) is eaten up with hatred of her mother Clytemnestra and stepfather Aegisthus for their murder of her father Agamemnon. Married platonically to a good-hearted but poverty-stricken old peasant, she longs for the return of her brother Orestes to help her wreak vengeance. Orestes finally returns and together they carry out their fated work, but find the result to be as tragically meaningless as the lust for vengeance had been poisonous. Strikingly different from Sophocles, who wrote his “Electra” with full sympathy for the divine ordinance of revenge, Euripides squarely blames the God Apollo for putting an evil commandment on the shoulders of the siblings...

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

Book cover Prometheus Bound (Thoreau Translation)

Whether or not it was actually written by Aeschylus, as is much disputed, "Prometheus Bound" is a powerful statement on behalf of free humanity in the face of what often seem like the impersonal, implacable Forces that rule the Universe. As one of the most compelling rebel manifestos ever composed, it has appealed not only to the expected host of scholars of Greek drama, but also to a fascinatingly free-spirited array of translators, especially since the early 19th century; Percy Bysshe Shelley, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (two very different versions), and activist-poet Augusta Webster are among those who have tried their poetic and linguistic powers at rendering it into English...

By: Euripides (484 BC - 406 BC)

Book cover Trojan Women (Coleridge Translation)

Described by modern playwright Ellen McLaughlin as "perhaps the greatest antiwar play ever written," "The Trojan Women," also known as "Troades," is a tragedy by the Greek playwright Euripides. Produced in 415 BC during the Peloponnesian War, it is often considered a commentary on the capture of the Aegean island of Melos and the subsequent slaughter and subjugation of its populace by the Athenians earlier that year. 415 BC was also the year of the scandalous desecration of the hermai and the Athenians' second expedition to Sicily, events which may also have influenced the author...

By: Sophocles (497 BC - 406 BC)

Book cover Antigone (Plumptre Translation)

A powerful artistic protest against tyranny, "Antigone" has been translated and adapted dozens of times, applied over and over through the centuries to current forms of the oppression so common to human experience. Antigone's heroic resistance to Creon's petty, capricious, and unbending law has a never-ending relevance even in the third millennium CE. The play was written at a time of national fervor. In 441 BC, shortly after the play was released, Sophocles was appointed as one of the ten generals to lead a military expedition against Samos...

Book cover Oedipus at Colonus (Jebb Translation)

"Oedipus at Colonus" (also Oedipus Coloneus, Ancient Greek: Οἰδίπους ἐπὶ Κολωνῷ, Oidipous epi Kolōnō) is one of the three Theban plays of the Athenian tragedian Sophocles. It was written shortly before Sophocles' death in 406 BC and produced by his grandson (also called Sophocles) at the Festival of Dionysus in 401 BC. In the timeline of the plays, the events of "Oedipus at Colonus" occur after "Oedipus the King" and before "Antigone"; however, it was the last of Sophocles' three Theban plays to be written...

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

Book cover Libation-Bearers (Morshead Translation)

The Oresteia is a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus concerning the end of the curse on the House of Atreus. The name derives from the character Orestes, who sets out to avenge his father's murder. The only extant example of an ancient Greek theater trilogy, the Oresteia won first prize at the Dionysia festival in 458 BC. When originally performed, it was accompanied by Proteus, a satyr play that would have followed the trilogy. Proteus has not survived, however. In all likelihood the term "Oresteia" originally referred to all four plays; today it generally designates only the surviving trilogy...

Book cover Seven Against Thebes (Way Translation)

Seven against Thebes is the third play in an Oedipus-themed trilogy produced by Aeschylus in 467 BC. The trilogy is sometimes referred to as the Oedipodea. It concerns the battle between an Argive army led by Polynices and the army of Thebes led by Eteocles and his supporters. The trilogy won the first prize at the City Dionysia. The trilogy's first two plays, Laius and Oedipus, as well as the satyr play Sphinx, are no longer extant. When Oedipus, King of Thebes, realized he had married his own mother and had two sons and two daughters with her, he blinded himself and cursed his sons to divide their inheritance (the kingdom) by the sword...

Book cover Suppliant Maidens (Morshead Translation)

The Suppliants, also called The Suppliant Maidens, or The Suppliant Women, is a play by Aeschylus. It was probably first performed sometime after 470 BC. It was long thought to be the earliest surviving play by Aeschylus due to the relatively anachronistic function of the chorus as the protagonist of the drama. However, evidence discovered in the mid-20th century shows it one of Aeschylus' last plays, definitely after The Persians and possibly after Seven Against Thebes....The Danaids form the chorus and serve as the protagonists...

By: Sophocles (497 BC - 406 BC)

Book cover Ajax (Campbell Translation)

Ajax is a Greek tragedy written in the 5th century BC. The date of Ajax's first performance is unknown and may never be found, but most scholars regard it as an early work, c. 450 - 430 BC. It chronicles the fate of the warrior Ajax after the events of the Iliad, but before the end of the Trojan War. At the onset of the play, Ajax is enraged because Achilles' armor was awarded to Odysseus, rather than to him. He vows to kill the Greek leaders who disgraced him. Before he can enact his extraordinary revenge, though, he is tricked by the goddess Athena into believing that the sheep and cattle that were taken by the Achaeans as spoil are the Greek leaders...

By: Euripides (484 BC - 406 BC)

Book cover Alcestis (Way Translation)

Alcestis, queen of Pherae, is one of the noblest heroines in all of Greek drama. Her husband Admetus is the supposedly virtuous king of Pherae who wins the friendship of the god Apollo. Apollo tricks the Eumenides into an agreement that when the time comes for Admetus to die, a willing substitute will be accepted in his place, allowing his friend to go on living. Admetus selfishly tries to persuade anyone to agree to be his substitute, even his own parents, but no one is willing to make that sacrifice; this disappointment and its tragic consequences embitter him, leading him ultimately to disown his father and mother...

By: Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)

Book cover Brand

Inflamed by what he saw as his Norwegian homeland's shocking betrayal of Denmark after the Prussian invasion of Danish territory, Ibsen wrote "Brand" as an indictment of human complacency and rigidity of mind. Composing this "dramatic poem" from his self-imposed exile in Italy, Ibsen had long agonized over the stodgy provincialism of his countrymen, but the abandonment of Denmark took on the dimensions in his imagination of a human tragedy far surpassing his own personal experiences. Brand is a priest who refuses to compromise, at the cost of great suffering to others, and who lives by unrealizable ideals...


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