Read Works of Sophocles by Sophocles Free Online
Book Title: Works of Sophocles|
The author of the book: Sophocles
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 786 KB
Edition: The Perfect Library
Date of issue: March 27th 2013
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Read full description of the books Works of Sophocles:Aristotle thought Sophocles the best of the Greek tragedians, and Oedipus the King the perfect tragedy. Sophocles wrote complicated, powerful plays - seven of them have survived, out of 120. He wrote about outcasts. My favorite, Antigone, is about fighting the power, and so is Elektra. Robert Bagg and James Scully run down his common themes in their intro to this complete edition:
- Sympathy for fate's victims
- Hostility towards tyrants
- Skepticism toward self-indulgent "heroes"
- Disillusionment with war and revenge.
They go on: "It's impossible to sanction revenge...simply through analysis and debate. Revenge, the audience realizes, issues from hatred immune to logic or morality."
But Sophocles is clever and ambiguous, so it's possible (for example) to misunderstand Antigone; Creon, the tyrant machine Antigone is raging against, isn't a two-dimensional villain. Sophocles' plays "bristle with ironies and implications that suggest his characters do not, or cannot, understand everything that is happening to them." If you're not careful you won't understand everything that's happening to these characters either.
This newish translation from about five years ago is a little controversial; Bagg and Scully refuse the tendency toward high-falutin' language that most other translations use. They present Sophocles in stubbornly modern voices: "Sure, you can bitch" (i.e. complain) says Elektra to her sister. The word "bogus" is used. "To translate the rich range of expressive modes Sophocles had at his disposal," argues Bagg, "we need the resources not only of idiomatic English, but also of rhetorical gravitas and, on rare occasion, colloquial English as well." They dismiss what they see as a stuffy insistence on high-toned, Victorian translation habits. The effect is a little jarring, but I'm kinda...convinced, to be honest. They do bring plenty of "rhetorical gravitas" at times: when Elektra bemoans
You, my rancid bed in that
Palace of pain
you're reminded that these guys are poets. But they're determined to avoid gravitas for gravitas's sake.
They compare the plays to Greek statues in museums: they're all this stark, pure white marble, and that's how we think of them, but they weren't anything like that when they were made. The Greeks painted them with bright, even garish colors. They even dressed them up. We have the wrong idea, because it's been so long that the colors have worn away. By using modern English in their translations, Bagg and Scully are trying to put the color back in Sophocles.
But here's a weird effect: it's suddenly possible to interpret Elektra as a comedy. I didn't get this sense when I read Anne Carson's translation. I didn't like it as much either. Sophocles amped up the weirdness and unlikability of Elektra and Orestes from Aeschylus' Libation Bearers, which tells the same story - there's his tendency to undermine "heroes" for you - and in Bagg's hands it reaches points of near silliness. "They've found a way into the heart of their hostess," says Elektra to Aegisthus, snickering. (They found it with daggers.) And a moment later: "For gods sake, brother," she says to Orestes: "Don't let him talk! You'll get a speech!" There's a whole section where Orestes slowly reveals to Elektra that it's not his ashes in this urn that's almost goofy.
So your mileage will vary on these idiosyncratic translations. For me: I found that I was drawn into these plays more than I ever have been before. (And I've read some of these like five times.) I liked them more; I understood them better; I was more interested. And I was more entertained.
Women of Trakhis (Read in January 2017)
Spoilers, here's how Herakles (Hercules) dies: his wife Deianeira got groped by the centaur Nessus and in revenge Herakles killed him with a poison arrow, and as he was dying Nessus told Deianeira to save the blood from his wound, it could be a love charm for Herakles if she ever needs it. Years later, Herakles sends slaves home ahead of him from battle, among them a nubile woman Deianeira learns he's In love with. She gives this amazing speech about her - I know my husband fucks tons of women, it's cool! - but she's insecure, the woman is super pretty. She uses Nessus's blood to anoint a robe, thinking Herakles will love her again; instead (duh) it poisons him, his own poison from beyond the grave, and he dies in agony. Devastated, Deianeira commits suicide.
There's the plot of Sophocles' Women of Trakhis (450 or later BCE). There are definitely notes of Aeschylus's Agamemnon here. In that older (458 BCE) and better play, Agamemnon arrives home from the Trojan War with his new concubine Cassandra; his wife Clytemnestra, who was already pissed off after he murdered their daughter because it wasn't windy enough, takes her own action. Clytemnestra has more agency than Deianeira, and Agamemnon's a more interesting work. Women of Trakhis is cool, though - dark and tragic and dramatic. The line repeatedly referred to is "Count no man happy until the end is known." (It's reportedly from Solon, in a story told by Herodotus.) That's an interesting thing to think about, and also a massive bummer if your life is going pretty well.
Aias (Read in December 2016)
First of all, Aias is Ajax - Big Ajax, the hero of the Trojan War. There, I saved you from "who the fuck even is this guy." Ajax plays a big role in The Iliad. At one point he defends the Achaean fleet from the Trojans single-handedly while Achilles is off sulking. But after the war Achilles's armor, which amounts to the Heisman Trophy of the war, is given to wily Odysseus after his speech about it proves more eloquent. Ajax is so pissed off that he goes on a murderous rampage against what turns out to be a flock of sheep. (Fuckin' Athena, always getting up in your head: he thought he was killing Agamemnon and Odysseus.) Humiliated, he kills himself.
The play is about, what happens if the guy who deserves the win doesn't get it? What if you feel you clearly earned leadership, but it's stolen by the other guy? Do you go on a murderous rampage? Do you burn it all down?
And if you happen to read this play just days after a presidential election whose results surprised you, it does feel pretty close to home. I'm not really a sheep-killer, but I can see why he's angry.
Read information about the authorSophocles (born c. 496 bc, Colonus, near Athens [Greece]—died 406, Athens), (Greek: Sophocle) was an ancient Greek tragedy playwright. Not many things are known about his life other than that he was wealthy, well educated and wrote about one hundred and twenty three plays (of which few are extant). One of his best known plays is 'Oedipus the King' (Oedipus Rex).
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