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The Three Theban Plays: Antigone; Oedipus the King; Oedipus at Colonus (The Theban Plays #1–3)

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  48,065 Ratings  ·  958 Reviews

Towering over the rest of Greek tragedy, these three plays are among the most enduring and timeless dramas ever written. Robert Fagles' translation conveys all of Sophocles' lucidity and power: the cut and thrust of his dialogue, his ironic edge, the surge and majesty of his choruses and, above all, the agonies and triumphs of his characters.
ebook, 432 pages
Published February 1st 1984 by Penguin Books (first published -400)
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'Take these things to heart, my son, I warn you.
All men make mistakes, it is only human.
But once the wrong is done, a man
can turn his back on folly, misfortune too,
if he tries to make amends, however low he’s fallen,
and stops his bullnecked ways. Stubbornness
brands you for stupidity – pride is a crime.
No, yield to the dead!
Never stab the fighter when he’s down.
Where’s the glory, killing the dead twice over?”

(Tiresias, the blind prophet, to Creon, king of Thebes, uncle of Antigone in ‘Antigone
Nov 02, 2014 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sophocles Theban play cycle, Antigone, Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus, spans the length of his career as a playwright. Traditionally, Antigone is placed at the end of the cycle, but chronologically it was the first that Sophocles wrote. I think this offers a big key to interpreting the plays as a whole. This key has to do with the evolution of Athenian society and how the subject-matters dealt with in the plays relate to the rapid growth and decay that Democratic Athens experienced—a period ...more
Mana H
Jun 18, 2016 Mana H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
کتاب را در تنهایی بدی خواندم وقتی هیچ نور امیدی نبود. در تلخی و ملال تنهایی این تراژدیها زیباترند. ارسطو میگوید شفقت و ترس از ملزومات تراژدیست. من ترسم ریخته بود ان روزها و شده بودم شفقت و شفقت ...more
Nov 01, 2012 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, theatre
This Robert Fagles translation is beautiful--far superior to other versions I've read (Fitts/Fitzgerald or David Greene's, for instance). The language is vibrant and compelling, an important asset for reading drama on the page. If you've not read Sophocles since a forced-and-indifferent slog during high school, I'd encourage you to rediscover it in a better light with this translation. Highly recommended.

This was my first time reading all three "Oedipus plays" in succession, and I appreciated th
Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)
*Note: I only read Oedipus Rex and Antigone, not Oedipus at Colonus.

There is literally nothing I could tell you about these plays that you don't already know from the thousands of books and movies that have referenced or been influenced by Oedipus ever since it was first performed. Four stars for overall story and dramatic themes, two stars because I didn't find it a very engaging or enjoyable read, averaged out to a nice three. Five stars for literary importance, though.

The self-fulfilling prop
Kirsti (Melbourne on my mind)
Alternate title: in which everyone stabs or hangs themselves.

Seriously, this book features a hell of a lot of suicide. And I get it - finding out that you've been banging your son for the past 15-20 years can't be a pleasant experience. But this just ended up feeling repetitive to me.

The biggest problem with this one for me, I suspect, is that all the action in the story takes place off stage. And I totally understand why that's the case, but it means that all the reader/viewer gets is recaps
May 23, 2016 Pink rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful. I know we need to read these in modern translations, but how amazing is it that we still have works from ancient Greece? These stories are not at all boring, or dated, or difficult to read. Pick the translation that suits you, whether poetry or prose or somewhere in-between and dive into some incredible drama.
علی‌رضا میم
کتاب خیلی عالی و فوق العاده بود.
از کتابهایی که سخت میشد زمین گذاشت. متن بسیار روان بود.مضامین و مفاهیمش هم علی رغم اینکه متن حدود دوهزار سال قبل نویسانده شده، بسیار ناب و دست اولند.

از سه بخش تشکیل شده کتاب.
بخش اول مواجهه ادیپوس به سرنوشت و تقدیری که از آن فراری بود.
بخش دوم مرگ ادیپوس و بخش سوم کشته شدن آنتیگنه.

خمیر مایه اصلی داستان فرار از تقدیر انسانیهو ادیپوس پیشگویی معبد دلفی در مورد سرنوشت شوم خودش رو میدونه. و هرچه که سعی میکنه که ازش فرار کنه، ناگهان در لحظهای که نفس راحتی میکشه، با کنجکاو
Ahmad Sharabiani
Oedipus tyrannus coloneus and Antigone, Sophocles
عنوان: سه نمایشنامه : اودیپوس شاه، اودیپوس در کولونوس، آنتیگون؛ مترجم: محمد سعیدی؛ زیرنظر: احسان یارشاطر؛ تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر کتاب، نخستین بار سال 1334، در 196 ص؛
عنوان: افسانه های تبای؛ اثر: سوفوکلس؛ ترجمه: شاهرخ مسکوب؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، خوارزمی، 1352، در 376 ص، شابک: 9644870328؛ چاپ دوم 1356، چاپ چهارم 1385، موضوع: ادیپ، نمایشنامه، اساطیر یونان، قرن پنج پیش از میلاد
افسانه های تبای، اثر ماندگار ادیب مشهور یونانی سوفوکلس هستند. در یادداشتی
I thoroughly enjoyed this translation of Sophocles Theban plays. Robert Fagles placed the plays in the order written, rather than in their dramatic chronology. At first I thought this was strange, but I followed his lead and read 'Antigone' first. Now, after reading Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus, I have a much greater feeling for Antigone's suffering and a much better understanding of Creon's perspective as well. Now I'm ready to re-read Antigone better armed with the facts of their re ...more
Justin Evans
May 03, 2014 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry-and-drama
So... not over-rated. Fagles' translation is solid, much clearer than his Aeschylus, though I actually prefer the opacity he brought to that text. Of course, that might have been in Aeschylus. I will never learn Greek well enough to tell.

Antigone was the earliest of these plays, though the last within the narrative. I can't help but read it with my Hegel glasses on: the clash between Creon and Antigone is an example of a failed conceptual grasp of the world, in which the claims on us of family/
Alireza Sahafzadeh
خیلی خوب بود انگار نه انگار از دل تاریخ بیرون آمده است و به قبل از میلاد مسیح برمیگردد هر سه نمایشنامه بر تقدیر و خرد آدمی تاکید داشتند و بحث اصلیشان بر همین دو عنصر میگشت دیالوگ ها و جملات عالی بطور سرشاری در این سه نمایشنامه یافت میشد
Daniel Chaikin
Jul 04, 2016 Daniel Chaikin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
42. Sophocles I : Oedipus The King; Oedipus at Colonus; Antigone (The Complete Greek Tragedies)
published: 1954 (my copy is a 33rd printing from 1989)
format: 206 page Paperback
acquired: May 30 from a Half-Price Books
read: July 3-4
rating: 4

Each play had a different translator

- Oedipus the King (circa 429 bce) - translated by David Grene c1942
- Oedipus at Colonus (written by 406 bce, performed 401 bce) - translated by Robert Fitzgerald c1941
- Antigone (by 441 bce) - translated by Elizabeth W
So, what did we learn? Circle one

1. Embrace any prophecy, as fighting against it will only make it come true
2. Always give way to anyone playing chicken with you on the road
3. Stay in school and pay special attention to "riddles," because only smart people end up with a good career as a king
4. Don't marry the widows of any king, unless you have her DNA checked
5. If you accidentally marry your mother, don't tell her because she will hang herself
6. If you have two brothers, don't break the law in
Nov 01, 2015 Mohsen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
دوستی از دیرباز به من آموخته بود اگر گمان بردی که مالک سرنوشت خویش شده ای نگاهی به سرنوشت های غمالوده کتاب
زندگی بیاند سرنوشت ادیپ مردی شرافتمند که از قبل مرگش سرنوشتش مشخص است و والدینش که ازین جغد شوم در هراسند سعی در فرار از ان میکنند خود ادیپ هم چنین میکند ولی اخر دست چیره ی سرنوشت تمامیشان را به قهقرای زوال میکشاند و مردم تبای که ادیپ را از خود میرانند و همچون بازیچه ای، زمانی که از سرنوشت شهر خویش در هراس میافتند انها باز تلاش میکنند تا ادیپ را بازگردانند تا مگر اسودگی خاطرشان را باز بیابن
Akemi G
Aug 30, 2016 Akemi G rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction, dramas
As always, I am torn among the many translations. I have this Penguin edition, translated by Robert Fagles (1982), and the older (1949) translation by Dudley Fitts & Robert Fitzgerald.

Fagles' translation reads well, but so does Fitzgerald's. Fitzgerald breaks down the play to scenes, which I like--even though these are short plays, I find Fagles' no-break translation rather tiresome. (I have no idea which style is more faithful to the ancient Greek original.)

Sometimes the two translations
Sofia T. (♥ Dimitri Belikov)
Read for University!
Victor Morosoff
Nov 30, 2015 Victor Morosoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sofocle mi-a câștigat definitiv admirația (deși cred că este, totuși, un eufemism). Oedip rege este, la fel ca și Antigona, aspră (și probabil ceva mai complexă), dar debordând de umanitate și aforisme tragice ce denotă o superioară înțelegere la fiecare pagină. 4,6/5

Nu la fel de concisă și limpede ca celelalte două piese ale trilogiei, Oedip la Colonos întruchipează mai mult un soi de clarificare și legitimare a acțiunilor din celelalte două tragedii tebane. 4/5

C'est vrai que le désir de lire
Aug 02, 2015 KEN! rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-greeks, poetry
Sehr gut
Rachel Lightwood
Oedipus Rex was the only play I read out of this anthology of Sophoclean tragedies. It was surprisingly quite amusing. I thought it would be more... well, tragic really. The ugly sobbing kind of tragedy - Titanic style. But instead it read like a soap opera. The drama scale was beyond imaginable. We had people dying and crying left, right and centre. It was fantastic!

The writing was good too. It had the feel of a ancient Shakespearean play but was much more "readable". There was no need to have
Sincerae Smith
I had to read Antigone, the third play in The Oedipus Cycle, in the 9th or 10th grade. The teacher filled us in about the occurrences in Oedipus Rex, but our starting point was only with Antigone. My memory fails to recall which grade exactly, but I certainly remember how my English teacher made it deathly boring. I can't remember which teacher, but it still clings to my memory his or her words about Oedipus' "fatal flaw." This was repeated over and over I guess to sound like an expert. One of t ...more
Steven Peterson
Feb 18, 2011 Steven Peterson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Theban plays are extraordinarily rich in their observations on the human condition; let us consider lessons to be drawn from these.

The first tragedy, King Oedipus, begins with the city of Thebes suffering great afflictions. King Oedipus swears that he will find the cause of the evil and improve the lot of the Thebans. His uncle, Creon, found that the pestilence would be lifted when the murderer of the previous king, Laius, was brought to justice. Oedipus immediately ordered that the killer
Edward Waters
Aug 04, 2011 Edward Waters rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most English translations of, say, the Greek New Testament are shepherded by a conviction that the original words had divine inspiration and so are best rendered verbatim wherever possible. At the same time, there generally is a concession (for good or ill) to the reality that if what results is not sufficiently lofty and reverential in tone, the faithful are unlikely to accept it. Attempts at classical Greek drama and poetry tend to be guided by rather different considerations: The translator's ...more
Steve Hemmeke
Really depressing.

The major theme is that you can't avoid the fate of the gods, even if you try. The upside is, even if you draw a short straw, you can still be pious and reverent toward the gods, and wise and loving to your family.

Oedipus definitely drew a short straw. That doesn't mean his life was short, though. He lives a long life, and the last decade or so is all agony over his bizarre circumstance.

In part one we learn about that craziness. Key theme is the truth. The truth will come out.
Dec 05, 2015 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars
That. Was. Awesome!
This story (Antigone) was so beautiful, but awful and tragic. (I know it's a tragedy, but God its depressing) (ω)

The characters were all really developed and even though at the beginning I disliked Creon, I felt utterly awful for him at the end. I'm confused to where Ismene went at the end of the play, and what her reaction to xxxxxxxx's death was, and I didn't really get Tiresias' prophecy either, but that didn't effect the story for me. (I must stop rambling)
In conclusion, t
Z Nayebi
Jun 06, 2016 Z Nayebi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
به سختی به این کتاب میتوان 5 نداد. درواقع کتاب بین 4 و 5 حرکت میکند. فرازهای زیادی از کتاب و مقدمه و موخره درخشانش قطعا 5 است اما همین حرکت میان 4 و 5 و به شکل مطلق در اوج نماندن باعث میشود که در مجموع به کتاب 4 ستاره بدهم.
مقدمه شاهرخ مسکوب و به خصوص موخره آندره بونار حقیقتا درخشان بودند. خواندن تراژدی ها قبل و بعد از خواندن مقاله ی بونار تفاوت های جدی ای باهم دارند. "خواندن" نیروهای متضاد هستی و درون وجود انسان از لا به لای سطور نمایشنامه های سوفوکلس شاید تا حدی توضیح دهنده کاری باشد که بونار م
What a brutal, awful world it was for the pagans. They believed in gods who, for no reason at all, sentenced men to arbitrary acts of inhumanity--even so designed as to be done unknowingly, yet with terrifying consequences.

The story of Oedipus and his family is simply awful. It makes for an interesting story, but the fact that the Greeks believed the world was so ordered that such things occurred demonstrates their own spiritual blindness and willful ignorance of the order of grace and justice o
Chris W
Sep 04, 2016 Chris W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book my favourite play was Antigone with a great quote "only good judgement secures good fortune, those who puffed themselves up with great words have been dealt great blows" highly recommend this book for people who are studying the art of playwright
Feb 04, 2016 Dylan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Antigone is the main character of the play Antigone. Her father is Oedipus, who believed himself to be cursed by fate; her uncle is Creon, now the king of Thebes; and her sister is Ismene, her last family member living. In ancient Greek society, the King has the most power and created the laws; the men had the second most power; while women and slaves had the least. Women during that time period had two roles, burying the dead and nurturing the children. Antigone’s brother is to be left unburied ...more
Feb 03, 2016 Ethan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Antigone is a fascinating play that incorporates ancient Greek culture and gods. The play shows the audience the role of women in ancient Greece. During that period, the sacred role of women was to bury the dead with proper funeral rites. The Greeks believed that without proper burial, life is not fulfilled, because the body cannot go to the afterlife. Antigone also shows the conflict between loyalty towards family or desire for power, and many other motifs and parts of Greek culture, including ...more
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All About Books: Oedipus Cycle by Sophocles (Gill, Pink, Greg, Leslie, Beth, Portia, and others?) 136 43 Jun 14, 2016 05:24AM  
Carlson 2341.06 F...: * Prophecy in Oedipus the King 47 28 Sep 04, 2015 10:14PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please revise book description 3 16 Aug 04, 2015 08:39PM  
Greek Plays are very epic 3 16 Aug 31, 2014 12:37PM  
conflict 5 41 Jun 13, 2012 07:58PM  
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Sophocles (Greek: Σοφοκλής; German editions: Sophokles, Russian: Софокл) 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).
More about Sophocles...

Other Books in the Series

The Theban Plays (3 books)
  • Oedipus Rex  (The Theban Plays, #1)
  • Oedipus at Colonus (The Theban Plays, #2)
  • Antigone (The Theban Plays, #3)

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“If through no fault of his own the hero is crushed by a bulldozer in Act II, we are not impressed. Even though life is often like this—the absconding cashier on his way to Nicaragua is killed in a collision at the airport, the prominent statesman dies of a stroke in the midst of the negotiations he has spent years to bring about, the young lovers are drowned in a boating accident the day before their marriage—such events, the warp and woof of everyday life, seem irrelevant, meaningless. They are crude, undigested, unpurged bits of reality—to draw a metaphor from the late J. Edgar Hoover, they are “raw files.” But it is the function of great art to purge and give meaning to human suffering, and so we expect that if the hero is indeed crushed by a bulldozer in Act II there will be some reason for it, and not just some reason but a good one, one which makes sense in terms of the hero’s personality and action. In fact, we expect to be shown that he is in some way responsible for what happens to him.” 27 likes
“All men make mistakes.” 26 likes
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