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Tag Archives: Greek

Agamemnon

the-oresteia-agamemnon-women-at-the-graveside-orestes-in-athens

This month my online book club went back to the classics and read Agamemnon. I got Oliver Taplin’s translation from the book above that had the entire Oresteia trilogy. Taplin’s translation was smooth poetry that was quite easy to understand but I wanted some footnotes so I wouldn’t have to look up all the specifically Greek terms like threnody and such.

Aeschylus takes the audience and readers on a fierce journey with powerful people betraying each other, killing their daughters, and getting revenge as they story examines whether people have free will or not. It’s a swift read that still has power today. The play is stark with few extras. Whereas contemporary stories have lots of walk on parts, the Greeks had the chorus do most of the exposition, analysis and commentary on the characters. Aeschylus wisely knows that he’ll cause the audience to become involved by creating complicated characters who do terrible or foolish things and deserve punishment, but since those inflicting the punishment are even worse people, who articulate their side well, that your mind will spend days turning the story over in their minds.

I’m glad I read this powerful play because it showed me that paring down a story to its essentials and making characters bold makes a story stronger. Even though Clytemnestra gives Lady Macbeth a run for her money, the story’s so absorbing that I stayed with it.

There’s a reason people still read the ancient Greeks and Shakespeare. I liked this translation so much that I will read the other two plays.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2019 in drama, World Lit

 

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Odyssey

This month’s book club selection was Homer’s Odyssey. I read selections or maybe the whole thing in the later years in grade school and all of it in college when I took Greek Lit in translation. The best experience was Greek Lit. My professor was engaging and enthused, which was infectious.

This time my interest waxed and waned. The beginning seemed slow and I had a hard time getting into this classic as I just wanted to follow Odysseus and move beyond the scene back in Ithaca with the boorish suitors chowing down and drinking up at the hero’s expense and eyeing the hero’s elegant wife Penelope. As I read I was impatient to get to the familiar scenes with the Cyclops and the land of the Lotos Eaters. Then I found those parts came earlier than expected and ended too soon.

I loved some of the poetry, the lines about the red fingers of the dawn, but I had trouble enjoying the epic. I was out of sync as I read it. Some of the best adventures like the episode with the Cyclops flew by and others like the beginning with the suitors and Penelope dragged.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2012 in classic

 

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Antigone

For January, my book club read the sparse, powerful Antigone. My copy included some insightful essays to provide a context for this play. The culture this comes from, was so different from our own. I was struck by Antigone’s single-minded idealism as she took on Creon, who wanted to execute her for disobeying his edict by burying her brother, who opposed the government.

It’s a powerful play with flawed characters, which can teach any playwright or screenwriter a lot about doing more with less.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2011 in drama

 

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