"The Electra of Euripides has the distinction of being, perhaps, the best abused, and, one might add, not the best understood, of ancient tragedies. "A singular monument of poetical, or rather unpoetical perversity;" "the very worst of all his pieces;" are, for instance, the phrases applied to it by Schlegel. Considering that he judged it by the standards of conventional classicism, he could scarcely have arrived at any different conclusion. For it is essentially, and perhaps consciously, a protest against those standards. So, indeed, is the tragedy of The Trojan Women; but on very different lines. The Electra has none of the imaginative splendour, the vastness, the intense poetry, of that wonderful work. It is a close-knit, powerful, well-constructed play, as realistic as the tragic conventions will allow, intellectual and rebellious. Its psychology reminds one of Browning, or even of Ibsen." So begins the introduction to the "Electra" as translated and introduced by Gilbert Murray.
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Based on the conviction that only translators who write poetry themselves can properly recreate the celebrated and timeless tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the Greek Tragedy in New Translations series offers new translations that go beyond the literal meaning of the Greek in order to evoke the poetry of the originals. Under the general editorship of Herbert Golder and the late William Arrowsmith, each volume includes a critical introduction, commentary on the text, full stage directions, and a glossary of the mythical and geographical references in the plays. This vital translation of Euripides' Electra recreates the prize-winning excitement of the original play. Electra, obsessed by dreams of avenging her father's murder, impatiently awaits the return of her exiled brother Orestes. After his arrival Electra uses Orestes as her instrument of vengeance, killing their mother's husband, then their mother herself - and only afterward do they see the evil inherent in these seemingly just acts. But in his usual fashion, Euripides has imbued myth with the reality of human experience, counterposing suspense and horror with comic realism and down-to-earth comments on life.About the Author:
Janet Lembke, a poet, is the author of Bronze and Iron and Dangerous Birds. Kenneth Reckford is the author of Aristophanes' Old-and-New Comedy: Six Essays in Perspective. Together they have edited Hecuba, also in the Greek Tragedy in New Translations series.
The late William Arrowsmith was University Professor and Professor of Classics at Boston University, and was the celebrated translator of numerous works from the Greek and Latin. Herbert Golder is Assistant Professor of Classics at Boston University. He is editor-in-chief of Arion.
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