Erika Harlitz-Kern's Reviews > Oresteia

Oresteia by Aeschylus
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really liked it

Aeschylus was considered the father of Greek tragedy already by his fellow Greeks, and was one of the most popular poets of his time. Still, of all the plays he wrote, only a handful have survived. Of the ones that have survived, THE ORESTEIA is the only trilogy. And THE ORESTEIA is itself incomplete; the accompanying satyr play PROTEUS has been lost.

THE ORESTEIA consists of the three plays AGAMEMNON, CHOËPHOROE (or THE LIBATION BEARERS), and EUMENIDES (or THE KINDLY ONES). The main character is Orestes, even though he does not appear until the second play.

The three plays of THE ORESTEIA is a delight to read as they deal with a dysfunctional family in dissolution, and how one of the family members—Orestes—finally has had enough and brings the gods to trial. The break down of the marriage between Agamemnon and Clytemnestra beats any toxic relationship on any soap opera. The solidarity between Elektra and Orestes as siblings is genuine. Meanwhile, the gods toy with mankind, placing men and women in impossible situations defined by false choices, and then, just as suddenly, turn into their most ardent supporters and defenders.

Reading THE ORESTEIA introduces us to the world of the Ancient Greeks. The issue of translators adding and revising according to their personal views of the Greeks, is well known. The translator of this edition, Hugo Lloyd-Jones, is at times guilty of this; especially when it comes to taking the Greek portrayal of Persians at face value. On the whole, however, Lloyd-Jones presents THE ORESTEIA without too many amendments.

In THE ORESTEIA, we have on the page the ruthless nature of Ancient Greece with stark renditions of the bleak experience of ancient warfare; the low regard for the value of human life; the uncertainty and volatility of day-to-day existence; blatantly expressed misogyny; and the casual inclusion of nameless slaves in the cast.

Even though THE ORESTEIA was written almost 2,500 years ago, the story has stood the test of time, and I highly recommend it.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
November 18, 2018 – Shelved

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