Πέρσαι / Ἑπτὰ ἐπὶ Θήβας / Ἱκέτιδες / Προμηθεὺς Δεσμώτης

Πέρσαι / Ἑπτὰ ἐπὶ Θήβας / Ἱκέτιδες / Προμηθεὺς Δεσμώτης❰Reading❯ ➿ Πέρσαι / Ἑπτὰ ἐπὶ Θήβας / Ἱκέτιδες / Προμηθεὺς Δεσμώτης Author Aeschylus – Oaklandjobs.co.uk Based on the conviction that only translators who write poetry themselves can properly re create the celebrated and timeless tragedies of Aeschylus Sophocles and Euripides the Greek Tragedy in New Tra Based on the conviction that Ἑπτὰ ἐπὶ eBook ✓ only translators who write poetry themselves can properly re create the celebrated Πέρσαι / eBook ë and timeless tragedies of Aeschylus Sophocles and Euripides the Greek Tragedy in New Translations series offers new translations / Ἑπτὰ ἐπὶ Kindle Ñ that go beyond the literal meaning of the Greek in order to evoke the poetry of the originals / Ἑπτὰ ἐπὶ Θήβας / PDF/EPUB ² The volume brings together four major works by one of the great classical dramatists Prometheus Bound translated by James Scully and C John Herrington a haunting depiction of the most famous of Olympian punishments; The Suppliants translated by Peter Burian an extraordinary drama of flight and rescue arising from women's resistance to marriage; Persians translated by Janet Lembke and C John Herington a masterful telling of the Persian Wars from the view of the defeated; and Seven Against Thebes translated by Anthony Hecht and Helen Bacon a richly symbolic play about the feuding sons of Oedipus These four tragedies were originally available as single volumes This new volume retains the informative introductions and explanatory notes of the original editions and adds a single combined glossary and Greek line numbers. This is a review of Prometheus Bound Reviews of other plays in the same book are found elsewhere see below Peter Paul RubensPrometheus discoursing on his gifts to mankind At firstMindless I gave them mind and reason What I sayIs not censure of mankind but showing youHow all my gifts to them were guided by goodwill In those days they had eyes but sight was meaningless;Heard sounds but could not listen; all their length of lifeThey passed like shapes in dreams confused and purposelessOf brick built sun warmed houses or of carpentryThey had no notion; lived in holes like swarms of antsOr deep in sunless caverns; knew no certain wayTo mark off winter or flowery spring or fruitful summer;Their every act was without knowledge till I cameThis play was the first in a trilogy The others both lost were Prometheus Unbound in which Zeus presented his case for the justness of his punishment of Prometheus and Prometheus the Fire Bringer The translator Philip Vellacott in his excellent introduction to the four plays expresses the view that it is difficult to imagine what material was left to cover in the last play though it's assumed that somehow a resolution of the cases made by Prometheus and Zeus in the first two plays was concocted Set the play at the dawn of human existence or perhaps at a time when Greek civilization was thought to have been no than barbaric with little use of man's mental faculties In Greek mythology this was in the time of the Titans See below Edith Hamilton cautions us The Greeks did not believe the gods created the universe It was the other way about the universe created the gods Before there were gods Heaven and Earth had been formed They were the first parents The Titans were their first children and the gods were their grandchildrenThe Titans were sometimes called the Elder Gods and were supreme in the universe for an untold amount of time The most important was Cronos who ruled over the other Titans until his son Zeus dethroned him and seized powerThere were other notable Titans Ocean the river that encircled the earth; his wife Tethys; Hyperion the father of the sun the moon and the dawn; Mnemosyne which means Memory; Themis Justice; and Iapetus important because of his two sons – Atlas who bore the world on his shoulders and Prometheus who was the savior of mankind from Hamilton MythologySo Prometheus the savior of mankind Why did mankind need a savior? Where did men come from?The human race was created in the time of the Titans But says Vellacottman was early recognized as a regrettable failure and kept in a state of wretchedness and total subservience Force ruled everything; reason and right were unknown The Titans were a race of gigantic size and strength and at least in one version of the myth no intelligence; until in one of them Prometheus emerged rational and moral ualities ranging from cunning and ingenuity to a love of freedom and justice The knowledge that the future lay with such intangible principles rather than with brute strength was a secret possessed by Earth who imparted it to her son Prometheus This certainly set Prometheus at the side of Zeus son of Cronos in rebellion against his father and the older dynasty; and by Prometheus' help Zeus and the other 'Olympian' gods won the day and thenceforward ruled the universeBut Prometheus was not only an immortal; he was also a son of Earth and felt a natural sympathy with the earth's mortal inhabitants The race which Zeus despised and planned to destroy Prometheus saw as capable of infinite development He stole fire from heaven and gave it to them; and he taught them the basic mental and manual skills In so doing he frustrated Zeus's plan to create a perfect race What win our favor for Prometheus is largely the fact that he believed in and wanted to help the human race as it is full of both noble achievement and pitiable sualor honoring both goodness and wickedness But though in this play the balance of feeling is in favor of Prometheus even the sympathetic Chorus rebuke him for pride and it is clear that Zeus's case has yet to be presentedthe playLike the other plays in this volume there are no jumps in time or changes of setting Prometheus is present on the stage throughout The Chorus is present on the stage from the time they enter right up to the end The other characters enter and leave the stage presenting the minimal scene change that apparently was accepted in early Greek drama Here's a synopsis It begins with Prometheus being dragged onto the stage by STRENTH and VIOLENCE are these minor Titans? children of the Titans? I'm not sure This may be an example of the fact that many of the relations between non human beings in Greek mythology are notably ambiguous even seemingly contradictory from one tale to anotherAt any rate there really is some action on the stage to open the play HEPHAESTUS the god of Fire follows these three onto the stage He doesn't really want to be there because he understands what he is supposed to do His opening speech establishes Aeschylus' setting for the playFor you two Strength and Violence the command of ZeusIs now performed You are released But how can IFind heart to lay hands on a god of my own raceAnd cruelly clamp him to this better bleak ravine?And yet I must; heart or no heart this I must doTo slight what Zeus has spoken is a fearful thingto PROMETHEUS Son of sagacious Themis god of mountainous thoughtsWith heart as sore as yours I now shall fasten youIn bands of bronze immovable to this desolate peakWhere you will hear no voice nor see a human form;But scorched with the sun's flaming rays your skin will loseIts bloom of freshness Glad you will be to see the nightCloaking the day with her dark spangled robe; and gladAgain when the sun's warmth scatters the frost at dawnEach changing hour will bring successive pain to rackYour body; and no man yet born shall set you freeYour kindness to the human race has earned you thisA god who would not bow to the gods' anger – you Transgressing right gave privileges to mortal menFor that you shall keep watch upon this bitter rockStanding upright unsleeping never bowed in restAnd many groans and cries of pain shall come from youAll useless; for the heart of Zeus is hard to appeasePower newly won is always harshHephaestus rivets each of the arms to the rock He is then commanded by Strength to drive straight through the chest with all the force you havethe unrelenting fang of the adamantine unbreakable wedge Once this is done the three leave Prometheus to his miseryPrometheus cries outSee with what outrageRacked and torturedI am to agonizeFor a thousand yearsSee this shameful prisonInvented for meBy the new master of the godsI know exactly every thingThat is to be; no torment will come unforeseenMy appointed fate I must endure as best I canknowing the power of Necessity is irresistibleUnder such suffering speech and silence are alikeBeyond me For bestowing gifts upon mankindI am harnessed in this torturing clamp For I am he Who hunted out the source of fire and stole it And fire has proved For men a teacher in every art their grand resourceThat was the sin for which I now pay the full priceBared to the winds of heaven bound and crucified The CHORUS now enters in a winged ship and speak to Prometheus at length They leave the ship and gather around Prometheus as OCEANUS arrives seated on a winged four footed creature She insists that she feels great friendship toward him and admonishes him to be less proud in this new regime in which Zeus has achieved rule over the other gods Next Io enters This is the longest scene in the play Io the virgin daughter of the king of Argos is a fellow victim indirectly of Zeus When Zeus first saw her he desired her His wife Hera became aware of the attraction before a union had been consummated and took steps to prevent it by transforming Io into a cow then set the giant Argus to watch over her Zeus had Hermes kill Argus but Hera responded to this by sending a gadfly to torment Io driving her from place to place all over the known worldThe Chorus asks Io to tell her story and as she does Prometheus recounts his personal knowledge of Io's travail and even tells her what will befall her in the future before she finds salvation from the enmity of Hera and the lust of Zeus Finally Prometheus is visited by the last character Hermes who has been sent on an errand by Zeus It seems that Zeus has foreknowledge that a son of his will cause his downfall and Zeus wants Prometheus to use his powers to reveal to him who the mother of this child will bePrometheus mocks Hermes claiming that he will not share this knowledge with the god who is responsible for his torments Hermes warns Prometheus and the Chorus who seem to defend him that they'll be sorry for being so pig headed Once Hermes leaves his warning about Zeus' thunder and lightning comes to pass and Prometheus cries Now it is happening; threat gives place to performance The earth rocks; thunder echoing from the depthRoars in answer; fiery lightnings twist and flash The cataclysm advances visibly upon me Sent by Zeus to make me afraidOh Earth my holy motherO sky where sun and moonGive light to all in turnYou see how I am wronged Previous review AmericanahNext review Varieties of DisturbanceOlder review The Numbers GamePrevious library review Seven Against Thebes AeschylusNext library review The Suppliants Aeschylus The Persians and Other Plays is a collection of plays and commentary about plays by Aeschylus The book contains the followingThe PersiansSeven Against ThebesThe SuppliantsPrometheus BoundEach play comes with a thorough introduction of the play itself as well as details of what we think we know about the history of the play's original performances and how they may have influenced other Classical plays and playwrights references in which inevitably have been used to date the plays themselves This is followed by commentary and notes on the plays and on related plays that may have existed For example it appears from the commentary that it has long been unclear in what order Aeschylus wrote the plays The production of 472 is the only one by Aeschylus that is known to have consisted of four plays whose stories were on the face of it unrelated indeed they were not even placed in proper chronological order The first play was Phineus about an episode in the saga of the Argonauts This was followed by The Persians; then jumping back to the heroic age by Glaucus of Potniae about a man who subjected his horses to an unnatural training regime and was devoured by them after crashing in a chariot race; and then by a satyr play about Prometheus Prometheus the Fire Bearer or Fire Kindler Repeated efforts have been made to find method behind the apparent madness of this arrangement so far with little successAs entertaining as it is to imagine someone making a simple mistake when noting down the running order of the plays in Ancient times this must be uite frustrating to ClassicistsIt took me way longer to read this collection than I thought but I don't regret a single minute of it While some of the concepts discussed and displayed in the plays were not instantly recognisable to a 20th and 21th century reader the context and explanatory notes provided by Alan H Sommerstein were so excellent that each of the plays not only made sense but actually made it a joy to discover how Aeschylus' may have raised smiles in some and incensed others of his audiences And some ideas and points of view in his plays especially the description of the Persian's defeat in The Persians the exposition that women may refuse marriage in The Suppliants and some of the rather humanist views of Prometheus in Prometheus Bound were uite different from what I had expected Or rather different from what I have come to expect from the Ancient Greek world when coming to Ancient Greek drama after reading the Greek myths in whichever version Apollodorus Ovid or any of the modern retellings But even coming to Aeschylus with some familiarity of other playwrights such a Sophocles I found Aeschylus surprisingly empathetic satirical and oddly modern CHORUS You didn't I suppose go even further than that? PROMETHEUS I did I stopped mortals foreseeing their deathCHORUS What remedy did you find for that affliction?PROMETHEUS I planted blind hopes within themCHORUS That was a great benefit you gave to mortalsPROMETHEUS And what is I gave them fireIt is easy to think of Prometheus only as the rebel who went against Zeus' wishes and brought fire to mankind but there is to him I loved how Aeschylus focuses not on the fire bringing alone but also on his shared humanity and on the prophecy that Prometheus knew of that would lead to the decline of Zeus' power the proverbial Götterdämmerung of the Ancient Greek gods PROMETHEUSIt's very easy for someone who is standing safely out of trouble to advise and rebuke the one who is in troubleI knew that all along I did the wrong thing intentionally intentionally I won't deny it by helping mortals I brought trouble on myself But I certainly never thought I would have a punishment anything like this left to wither on these elevated rocks my lot cast on this deserted neighbourless crag Now stop lamenting my present woes descend to the ground and hear of my future fortunes so that you will know it all to the end Do as I ask do as I ask Share the suffering of one who is in trouble now misery you know wanders everywhere and alights on different persons at different times I recommend that you look at Terence's review at but I would like to add some remarks to hisAmongst these plays I much preferred The Persians It opens with the elderly councilors to Xerxes who remained behind in Susa They recall the pride and confidence with which the Persian army set forth but now are filled with foreboding and anxiety at the lack of news of victory The tension between these emotions is very well drawn The sense of foreboding is heightened when Xerxes' mother arrives and relates a dream and an omen Then the news of Persia's calamity at Salamis arrives The messenger recounts the battle since Aeschylus was probably in the Athenian navy at Salamis in any case since the play was written only 8 years after that battle he surely knew what he was writing about I found this report to be riveting and composed in a noble and exciting poetry In their grief they summon the shade of Darius Xerxes' father not the last ghost to haunt Western theater who warns at length against hubris he is clearly Aeschylus' puppet here Then the defeated Xerxes arrives to emphasize in most dramatic speech the disastrous conseuences of hubris This emphasis on hubris is of course Greek not Persian But I very much appreciate that Aeschylus instead of gloating over the Greeks' victory empathized with the defeated foeThis play has none of the freuent invocations laments and pleas to the gods found in the other plays I understand that ancient Greek drama had religious ceremony at its origin and only slowly developed its human concerns and since Aeschylus is the eldest of the Greek playwrights whose work has survived it is natural that there are seemingly such invocations in his work But as understandable as it may be it was a relief not to have to read them in The Persians And since much of Prometheus Bound consists of such addresses my pleasure in that play clearly the most dramatic of the four in this book was diminishedIndeed I find that I disagree with the relative ranking of Prometheus Bound and The Suppliants made by so many Yes Prometheus Bound can be read as a rebellion against tyranny but as such an allegory it is uite thin The rebellion occurred before the action of the play the play is actually about the sufferings of those who rebel against tyranny This is emphasized by the arrival of Io How much appealing to my mind is the story of a father trying to shelter his daughters their number 50 is absurd but let that pass from violent and unwanted suitors And the moment when King Pelasgus realizes how bad of a situation the arrival of the descendants of Io has placed him in is realAs for Seven Against Thebes the less said the better I was not surprised to read after I had finished the play and felt that the appearance of Antigone and Ismene was superfluous that Aeschylus' original ending was replaced by this foreign appendage 50 years after his death Rating Having recently read Caroline Alexander’s The War That Killed Achilles The True Story of Homer's Iliad and the Trojan War a wild hare came into my head to read Aeschylus’ Persians which was mentioned in some connection with the book My exposure to Greek playwrights is limited In my infamous graduate school days my exposure to Greek authors comprised the historians and relatively obscure Byzantine chroniclers; I had done little reading – much less serious reading – of the literatureAs my ancient Greek has rusted almost beyond use I am fortunate in this case for having an excellent translation by Carl Mueller who uotes Dryden in illustrating his approach to the plays – “The translator that would write with any force or spirit of an original must never dwell on the words of the author” p 117This volume contains four of the seven complete plays from Aeschylus’ work somewhere between 70 and 90 plays of which only fragments have survived the ages Persians Seven Against Thebes Suppliants and Prometheus Bound Persians None of these plays are “plays” in what most people expect from that word There’s little action or plot and much recitation between chorus and actor Persians is uniue in a couple of ways It’s the only first hand account of the battle of Salamis the playwright was there that has survived and for a play presented to an audience of Athenians it presents the enemy in a surprisingly sympathetic light remarkably so considering that Salamis was only about a decade in the past when first performed and many in the audience would have been veterans of the war It is – above all – a cautionary tale about the perils of hubris In attempting to invade Hellas Xerxes has overstepped the bounds of what is permitted to humans and he and all of Persia must pay the price – defeat humiliation ruinEven at this early period in the evolution of theater Aeschylus shows a mastery of dramatic techniue pp 26ff and a genius for vivid imagery Compare the images of the flower of Persia’s youth marching to war and the lament when they are slaughtered by the Athenians From Susa they went from Agbatana from Kissia’s ancient towering ramparts by horse by ship by foot in close ranked columns of war Men like Amistres and Artaphrenes Megabates and Astaspes each of them kings Persian commanders but each of them also the Great King’s servants marshals of Persia’s massive forces surging surging seething for battle archers horsemen a sight to see fearful in the fight stern in the harsh resolve of their spiritArtembares high in his chariot and Masistres and noble Imaios strong of arm with his archer’s bow unyielding Imaios and Pharandakes and Sosthenes driver of stallions And others still others great Nile sent forth teeming Nile’s fertile flow Sousiskanes and Egypt born sun dark Pegastagon and towering Arsames lord of temple rich Memphis and Ariomardos governor of age old Thebes and marsh dwelling oarsmen terrible in number pp 122 23And from the Persian Chorus King My King I lament for your army your noble army for the greatness of Persia and her glorious men cut down now cut down whom god has destroyedThe land the land cries cries aloud cries for her youth whom Xerxes has slain whom Xerxes had crammed into dismal Hades Persia’s youth from Agbatana great Persia’s flower many many thousands ten thousands archers masters of the bow a forest of men gone destroyed no Weep for them weep our noble defense All Asia brought to her knees in shame pp 167 68 Seven Against Thebes Before I learned the actual story behind the title this play always brought to my mind a Greek version of “The Seven Samurai” or at least “The Magnificent Seven” The reality for me wasn’t uite as inspiringEteokles and Polyneikes are the brother sons of Oedipus The original plan was for the brothers to alternate in the kingship of Thebes but after Eteokles’ first year he refused to give up the throne and exiled his brother Polyneikes goes to Argos where he convinces King Adrastos to help him take the city Adrastos recruits five other champions and they lead an army against Thebes Everyone but Adrastos is fated to die in this war the brothers as part of a curse on Oedipus’ house as well as a fulfillment of the father brother’s curse on them for mistreatmentIn its “raw” form there’s really no side to prefer but in Aeschylus’ hands you’re urged to root for Eteokles who is presented here as the epitome of martial arête and good kingship – not only does he fulfill the demands of honor but he truly cares for the fate of Thebes and dies knowing that his defense of the city will save it from the horrors of a sackAs with Persians there’s some memorable poetry O god hated house of Oedipus house cursed by the gods house maddened by the gods house of tears now the curse of Oedipus is fulfilledBut no time for tears or wailing now giving birth to even worse sufferingAs for him Polyneikes so well named strife bringer we will see if his sign is fulfilled; whether golden letters on a shield will do what they say; or are they the babble of a demented mind?If Justice virgin daughter of Zeus had ever been with him in thought or deed his boasting might have come trueBut never never once never – not when he fled the dark cavern of his mother’s womb not in childhood or adolescence not when the hair of manhood grew on his chin did Justice ever even once turn her eye on him or ever acknowledge him Nor does she now now as he rapes his city his parent land in this violent criminal assault For is she did if Justice looked kindly on him she would be justly misnamed for championing one who brings death on his city pp 215 16 Suppliants This play is the least satisfying from a self contained story point of view It sets up a confrontation between the fifty daughters of Danaos who do not want to marry against their will and the demands of Greek culture which says a girl must wedIt must be remembered that all of these plays were part of dramatic trilogies and a satyr play a comedy Suppliants is the first in an arc that explored the myth of the Danaids It’s as if we only had a copy of “The Empire Strikes Back” and maybe a frame or two of the other movies We could comment favorably on the movies’ technical mastery and script but we wouldn’t know much about the characters or why Vader’s admission of paternity is so pivotal Prometheus Bound Prometheus Bound is the most play like of these plays The characters are strongly delineated Hephaistos Prometheus Oceanus the First Daughter Io and Hermes and while no action takes place on stage the monologues are harrowing enough in the tales they recount and the finale when the Titan is hurled down into Tartarus is as violent as any an action film lover could wishThe story should be familiar to most readers There is a war in heaven between Zeus’ faction and that of his father Kronos Prometheus his mother Themis though Titans and initially Kronos’ allies defect to Zeus and allow his side to prevail But Zeus in this play is a tyrant who can brook no competition When Prometheus gives to Man not alone fire but all the arts of civilization Zeus condemns him to perpetual torment chained to a cliff in the CaucasusThe play is a deconstruction of tyranny and the proper response of a free man Hephaistos and Oceanus are the men who go along to get along courtiers and sycophants Io is a living victim of tyranny raped by Zeus and driven mad by Hera’s jealousy and Hermes is Zeus’ Gestapo spying on the sky god’s subjects so that no rival can arise I came for Prometheus Bound and stayed for The Persians and The Seven Against Thebes but The Suppliant Maidens is the most sophisticated text hereThe Suppliant Maidens a bizarre thing with a choral protagonist concerning an asylum claim of the Danaids Greek drama was part of a self flattering political dream wherein aliens always already desire to immigrate to Hellas against the wishes of nativists which self flattery continues in 2019 to be an abiding ideology in the United States and is accordingly one of the key foundational and self defining mythologies of so called western civilization It gets to a weird start when the Egyptian speaker invokes Greek religion in the first line—is it masterful cosmopolitanism or is it not rather a rigid xenophobia that can’t even imagine that strangers have their own ways? After the initial invocation of Zeus the chorus seeks asylum whereupon the further invocation is made “Who not in hell Where another Zeus among the dead they say Works out their final punishment can flee Their guilt of lust” ll 229 31 The imputation of Hellenic religion to xenos continues in “by race we claim Argos the offspring of a fruitful cow” l 273 74 a reference to Io’s long journey Their petition “to be no household slave to Egyptus’ sons” 334 This to the royal judge is a “demand to wage A new war” 341 The judge wants to avoid that “strife for us arise in unexpected and unpremeditated ways” 359 He regards it as outside his executive or judicial authority to decide and considers it a legislative uestion “But I make no promises until I share with all the citizens” 368 9 who at least have a consultative role if not truly deliberative The petitioners argue that “the land the hearth polis and oikos NB you rule With the single vote and scepter” 372 3 In this dilemma he fears “to act or not to act” 379 a moment of indecision A concern for humanitarian intervention into the oikos of another in “a watchdog of men Distressed who sit at neighboring hearths But obtain no lawful justice” 382 4 It is proposed that “Egytpus’ sons rule you by customs Native to your city” 387 88 and they wish to escape it as a “heartless marriage” 394 The royal judge has difficulty with the issue but insists on self preservation “So never may people say if evil comes ‘Respecting aliens the city you destroyed’” 400 1 The king is “run aground” 439 on the impasse of xenos v polis a matter of either course “necessity is strained” 440 hanged on ananke “if consanguine Blood is to stay unshed we must sacrifice To slaughter many kind to many gods” 448 49 he is “spent by this dispute” 450 “If I leave This debt unpaid you’ve warned of pollution That shall strike unerringly” 471 3 He enjoins the father to place wreaths at “Altars of the native gods” so that “no one of the native people who delight In blame” might blame him 480 ff The chorus for its part thinks “mad is the race Egyptian cursed In war unsated” 741 2; they are “wanton men monstrous and profane” 763 The choral asylum claim runs through Io 524 ff who is construed at times as “bacchant of Hera” 565 “woman in turn a monster marveled at” 570 The Egyptian advocate refers to the chorus as “you without city I cannot respect” 852—“willing unwilling you shall go” 861 The Egyptian position is standard imperialist “I do not fear these gods before me” 893—though the local royalty is not exactly enlightened “You are Barbarians and you trifle insolently With Greeks” 913 5 “you know not how to be a stranger” 918 as against “you speak unkindly to strangers” 927 The monarch adheres to the legislative will “thus unanimous the vote Decreed never to surrender them to force” 941 2—the city’s “voted will Is now fulfilled” 963 4 Likely a trilogy focusing on the polis demos polis – demos; part II as themis – demos polis demos; part III is themis demos themis – demos? Dreadful that they are lost The PersiansThe introduction notes that “Aeschylus removes the Persian War to the realm of myth” here 45 The immediate concern is how “all Asia is gone To the city of Persians Neither a herald not horseman returns” 13 5 The intention had been to “yoke in servitude Hellas” 49 50—a “destroyer of cities” 64 who is “yoking the neck of the sea” 71 the Persian monarch from Herodotus VII traces “his descent from Perseus” 79 The problem “For divine fate has prevailed since It enjoined Persians to wage wars” 102 3 It hangs in suspense until foil to Marathon “a Persian runner comes” 246 to report “all the barbarian host is gone” 254 “the sea dyed corpses whirl Vagrant on cragged shores” 277 8 “all aliens in a savage Country perished” 318 9 Even though the Persians allegedly outnumbered the Greeks “some deity destroyed Our host” 345 6 “she could not sate her appetite with those Whom Marathon had made the Persians lose” 476 7 The result “Now all Asia Desolate void” 548 “They throughout the Asian land No longer Persian laws obey No longer lordly tribute yield Exacted by necessity; Nor suffer rule as suppliants To earth obeisance never make Lost is the kingly power” 584 90 What’s left but to “lavish on the nether gods” libations for the dead 621? An anti katabasis of course wherein the ueen summons spectral Darius “up from the dead” 631 He duly reports “Ascent is not easy The chthonic deities readily Receive than give” 688 9 Though he fears famine or “civil strife within the city” 715 Agamben’s stasis the complaint is that Xerxes “drained the plain manless” 718 a fantasy of demographics then She is concerned that “to the joyous bridge They came the yoke of continents” 735; his point is rather that “my son in ignorance Discovered it by youthful pride; who hoped To check the sacred waters of the Hellespont by chains just as if it were a slave” 742 5 He recalls a lovely precession of Persian history 765 ff before noting that “Grecian soil is their own ally” 791 insofar as “it starves to death excessive numbers” 793 Persia is punished “so great will be The sacrificial cake of clotted gore Made at Plataea by Dorian spear” 816 17 Seven Against ThebesPart of the Oedipus story this text focuses plainly on the stasis that occurs in the power vacuum after Oedipus is cast out there is “disaster” throughout the polis 5 and the present archon orders his soldiers “fear not that mighty mob of foreigners” 34 a nexus of rightwing anxiety His reconnaissance reports that the seven enemy divisions seek to “lay your city level with the ground sacked or by their deaths to make a bloody paste of this same soil of yours” 47 48 Thereafter signs of the enemy are seen in a “cloud of dust” that their movements raise 60 81 as well as in sounds thereof heard from outside 83 100 150—though it gets borderline surreal with proclamations such as “I see the sound” 103; this is a similar pre heralding as in the Agamemnon Archon repeats the order to participate in the defense of the polis “Now if there is anyone that will not hear my orders be he man or woman or in between sentence of death shall be decreed against him and public stoning he shall not escape” 196 9 emphasis added never mind the perverse incentives generated by this injunction what is going on with the gender politics there? Archon is the normal authoritarian in advocating that “obedience is the mother of success” 223 The choral position is that “thanks to the Gods that we have our city unconuered” 233 but the archon produces perhaps a tragic dilemma in “I do not grudge your honoring the Gods But lest you make our citizens cowards be uiet and not overfearful” 236 8 None of it matters insofar as the polis is genuinely subject to solicitation “Our city groans from its foundation” 245—is the dilemma aforesaid shaking the constitutional order rooted in theological fear which runs contrary to the orders of the polis executive? For his part the executive despairs “Alas the luck which among human beings conjoins an honest man with impious wretches” 597 8 which founders on the same dilemma interpreted in a self serving manner He believes that “our race the race of Oedipus by the gods maddened by them greatly hated” 653 4 which is a reasonable point considering that this is all the fallout of divine revenge against Oedipus for his ancestors’ defeat of ancient chthonian monsters He appeals to a different dilemma “I do not think that now he comes to outrage this fatherland of his she will stand his ally or else she is called falsely Justice joining with a man whose mind conceives no limit in villainy In this I trust and to the conflict with him I’ll go myself What other has right? King against king and brother against brother” 669 675 The chorus recognizes the problem “Forth from your house the black robed Fury shall go” 700; “Old is the tale of sin I tell but swift in retribution to the third generation it abides Thrice in Pythian prophecies given at Navel of Earth Apollo had directed King Laius all issueless to die” 742 ff For Oedipus the problem was not the patricide or the incest but rather when “he knew the meaning of his dreadful marriage” 778 9 But “the decisions of Laius wanting in faith” 841 as the crime? Otherwise a fantasy of demographics insofar as “emptied the city walls” 330 is plausible; Capaneus particularly desires to “burn the city” 434 as part of the slick catalog of enemies 375 et se; the descriptions of the Seven are lovely otherwise Prometheus BoundSet at “the world’s limit” 1 an “untrodden desolation” 2 agents of the gods “nail this malefactor” id to the cliff so that he might “pay the gods the penalty” for his “man loving disposition” 3 4 The “command of Zeus” finds its “perfect fulfilment” in “Might and Violence” 12 The torture will proceed until Heracles liberates Prometheus though during the play he “has yet to be born” 26 Hephaestus feels guilt but is assured that “your craft is in no way the author of his present troubles” 47 Fairly brutal “drive the obstinate jaw of the adamantine wedge right through his breast” 64 The prosopopeia for Might intones after nailing that “the Gods named you wrongly when they called you Forethought” 88 Prometheus himself envisions “ten thousand years of time” of torment 95 He also sees a “limit to my sufferings” because “I have known all before all that shall be” 99 100 His resume is slick “It was mortal man to whom I gave great privileges and for that was yoked to this unyielding harness I hunted out the secret spring of fire that filled the narthex stem which then revealed became the teacher of each craft to men a great resource This is the sin committed for which I stand accountant” 106 13 At “earth’s end” 117 he finds that he is “enemy of Zeus hated of all” 121—aesthetics determined by power—arising out of his “excessive love for man” 123—even his self assessment is uncritical in accepting the distortions of power He wishes instead that he had been thrown “underneath the earth and underneath the House of Hades host of the dead yes down to limitless Tartarus” 152 54 which would have been the standard punishment for this sort of transgression What then accounts for the deviation from precedent? The chorus construes Zeus as he malignantly always cherishing a mind that bends not has subdued the breed of Uranos not shall he cease until he satisfies his heart” 163 5 Prometheus for his part predicts that “he shall need me” 168 at which time he will demand “recompense” 179 Zeus is savage and “his justice a thing he keeps by his own standard” 188 9 which enables Russell’s critiue of the moral argument for the existence of god—that the standard of justice is idiosyncratic to power rather than derived from any particular set of axioms An apocalyptic prediction in that Zeus “shall melt to softness yet when he is broken in the way I know” 190 1 Zeus is concerned with how “he assigned to the several gods their several privileges and portioned out their power but to the unhappy breed of mankind he gave no heed intending to blot the race out and create a new” 231 5 Prometheus by contrast “rescued men from shattering destruction” 236 and acted in representative capacity “I gave to mortal man a precedence over myself in pity” 240 He caused “mortals to cease foreseeing doom” 250 and “placed in them blind hopes” 252 and “gave them fire” 254; he also “first yoked beasts for them” so that “they might be man’s substitute” 462 4 He also taught them medicine divination religious practice oneiromancy augury and so on 475 ff “all arts that mortals have came from Prometheus” 505 And yet “craft techne? is far weaker than necessity ananke?” 513 This acting in representative capacity is also an intentional internalization of an externality “I knew when I transgressed nor will I deny it in helping man I brought my troubles on me” 267 8 An apocalypse is foretold 368 74 A repeated refrain is how Zeus is a tyrant—and that general term of opprobrium is given some substance in the notion of a “tyrant’s private laws” 403 Here is perhaps a dilemma “Who then is the steersman of necessity?” “The triple formed Fates and the remembering Furies” “Is Zeus weaker than these?” “Yes for he too cannot escape what is fated” “What is fated for Zeus besides eternal sovereignty?” “Inuire of this no further” 515 20 This must be compared to Roman Jupiter who is perhaps superior to fate Prometheus declines to let out the secret that he knows the fate of Zeus as “it is only by keeping it that I will escape my despiteful bondage and my agony” 524 Io shows up to “the limits of the world” 666 with tales of Zeus wanting to “blot out the whole race” 669 again construing humans as a writing Prometheus tells Io that her suffering thus far is but a “prelude” 739 Io asks if Zeus will fall from power and he answers “know that this shall be” 760 because of “a son mightier than his father” 768—unless Prometheus is freed—and there is a recitation of the liberatory agent a descendent of Io “a man renowned for archery” 870 1 anti chthonian Heracles I read this for Prometheus Bound than anything else I find the mythological archetype of the trickster interesting Prometheus has obvious parallels with the SumerianAccadian deity EnkiEa There can hardly be any doubt that the tradition is a shared one between the Middle East and the Mediterranean On top of that the figure of Shemhazai aka Samyaza of the Enochic tradition is also somewhat analogous Prometheus is said to have given man certain kinds of forbidden knowledge eg the knowledge of fire and various arts and sciences including medicine and magic While Azazel was also credited with bringing to humanity forbidden knowledge his predilection was apparently geared towards war than towards civilization building Shemhazai seemed to be allied with knowledge that was meant to promote civilization Another interesting parallel between Shemhazai and Prometheus is that both were made to do penance in their repsective traditions In Prometheus' case he was bound to some remote mountain where his liver was devoured by crows after it continuously regenerated Shemhazai was said to have been suspended between heaven and earth Apparently in Enochic tradition some constellation may have been euated with Shemhazai originally Draco is an obvious candidate given the following It also is likely that the serpent in the garden is a related motif It was a component of Sumerian myth that Enki was often symbolized by a serpent That serpents and dragons were often conflated in Middle Eastern and Levantine mythology is ubiuitously evident For some reason both were often associated with wisdom and knowledge Azazel was said to have been cast into the rocky wilderness of Dudael There may be some parallel thereIt's interesting that Aeschylus could put in the mouth of Prometheus a prophecy of Zeus' removal as head of the pantheon It is clear that the average Greek didn't see Zeus as being omnipotent It was understood that he became the head divinity after the removal of Chronos It isn't made clear what tradition is behind this Promethean prophecy Prometheus adamantly refuses to give details when Io inuires However there's an allusion to Typhon that seems to imply that Zeus will be overcome by Typhon eventuallyI pity Typhon that earth born destroying giant The hundred headed native of the Cilician caves;I saw him all his fiery strength subdued by forceAgainst the united gods he stood his fearful jawsHissing forth terror; from his eyes a ghastly glareFlashed threatening to annihilate the throne of ZeusBut Zeus's sleepless weapon came on him and struck His very heart and burnt his strength to sulphurous ashand thence one dayRivers of flame shall burst forth and with savage jaws Devour the bright smooth fields of fertile Sicily;Such rage shall Typhon though charred with the bolt of ZeusSend boiling out in jets of fierce fire breathing spumeUnuenchableThe apocalyptic element of this prophecy seems to mirror the Norse legend of Ragnarok and Thor's final battle with the Midgard serpent The parallels are certainly thereThe other three works included here are semi historical dramas that are rather low on mythology but contain some historical characters and allusions to historical events Not uite as interesting for me but worth reading nonetheless There's not much there that I feel compelled to comment onThe playwrights became excellent sources of myth when other primary sources were lost Aeschylus is thus a primary source for the myth of Prometheus If one is interested in Greek mythology this is a great source Read Prometheus Bound on 30 Jan 15 Though I’ve already written a review in Romanian for Prometheus Bound it would have been strange if I didn’t write something about the entire volume that includes four of Aeschylus’ tragedies The Suppliant Maidens The Persians The Seven Against Thebes and Prometheus BoundWhat you need to know about Aeschylus is that he is one of the three emblematic figures of Greek tragedy along with Sophocles and Euripides It is said that Aeschylus wrote around one hundred plays during his lifetime but only seven survived the test of time four of which I’ve mentioned above while the other three form the Oresteia Trilogy Aeschylus is also known for introducing the second actor on the stage He gradually diminished the role of the chorus and he shifted the focus from the lyricism of the composition to the dialogue – an important change that gives the tragedy its dramatic characteristics we all recognize even today For his artistic achievements Aeschylus is also called the Father of Tragedy and he is praised by the Greek philosopher Aristotle in his famous work Poetics The Suppliant Maidens Ἱκέτιδες is the earliest play of Aeschylus’ that survived to the present day but it is less known in contrast with his other works I actually read this one last because the subject didn’t appeal to me that much and I found the play pretty mediocre in theme and ‘action’ The subject has its roots in Greek mythology and it is the story of Danaus’ daughters who flee from Egypt to Argos in order to avoid their incestuous marriages to the sons of Aegyptus who were their cousins The maidens escorted by their father find shelter in Argos hoping not to be captured by their suitors In order to help the newcomers Pelasgus the King of Argos asks his people to vote and their decision is crucial for the maidens’ destinies Though the other two parts of the trilogy are lost there are some scarce references to what happens to the maidens in Prometheus Bound and in one of Horace’s Odes E D A Moreshead wrote about The Persians Πέρσαι that it “was brought out in 472 BC eight years after the sea fight of Salamis which it commemorates” p 5 a play that had a great significance for those who fought against the Persian Empire in the Battles of Termopilæ Marathon Salamis and Plataea The Persians might be the second play of a trilogy “standing between the Phineus and the Glaucus” Idem Phineus being a prophet like Tiresias who foreshadowed the conflict that is depicted in The Persians I won’t spoil your read but I will only add that through this play Aeschylus sends a patriotic message to his fellow Athenians and he revives their past victories against the Persians or the triumph of civilisation against barbarism as Ovidiu Drîmba writes in his study of the history of theatre The Seven Against Thebes Ἑπτὰ ἐπὶ Θήβας depicts the siege of Thebes along with the cruel fate of the two brothers Eteocles and Polynices who were cursed by their father the late King Oedipus for not taking care of their blind parent and for their selfishness and thirst for power From my point of view the most lyrical and heartbreaking parts of the play are those recited by the Chorus of Maidens who depict the terrific battle scenes and address helpless and desperate prayers to the gods to protect the city and not let it fall into the hands of their enemy The irony is that the name Thebes doesn’t appear anywhere in the text but Cadmea or Cadmus The one that gave the play the name we all know was actually Aristophanes who referred to it in his comedy Frogs as the Seven against Thebes a drama instinct with War which anyone who beheld must have yearned to be a warrior p 6 In Prometheus Bound Προμηθεὺς Δεσμώτης Titan Prometheus is punished by Zeus for creating the first humans for stealing the Sacred Fire from Mt Olympus and for giving it to the earthlings to start the process of civilisation Though Prometheus is bound to a rock on Mt Elbrus and Zeus uses various types of torture to make the titan repent Prometheus stands tall and doesn’t have any reason to be ashamed or to apologize for what he has done He has the power to predict the future and that future will not be a bright one for Mighty Zeus Prometheus is not afraid of Zeus because he is immortal; therefore all he has to do is to endure all the torture until his saviour will fulfil the prophecy Unfortunately for us the second and third plays of the Promethean trilogy are lost but we can find out who the saviour is by reading the Greek mythsOverall the plays were very interesting due to their uniue structure and well known characters from history and myths but the language was pretty old and sometimes difficult to understand – a factor that made the reading too slow for my liking I’m sure that I would have enjoyed this volume a little if the writing had been a bit modern but this is a matter of taste Prometheus Bound I really enjoyed being thrown back to high school and remembering Io the cow and all the crazy stories of the Greek gods In this short play Prometheus who gave humans the gift of fire is condemned to being chained to a mountain for having done so because Zeus doesn't approve Io shows up and her reveals to her that she still has a long way before she will eventually conceive a child from Zeus The Suppliants In this one the fifty daughters of Danaus some descendant of Zeus and Io are running away from their fifty cousins who want to bed them Let them die before they ever lay hands On us their cousins to enter our unwilling beds Which Right forbids themAt least they understand how it works and know that bedding cousins is probably a BAD idea This is putting Oedipus to serious shame ;The whole play is pretty much about the ladies moaning and imploring the gods and the King of Argos whom they chance upon and implore to help them It was pretty crazy but what would you expect from descendants of Zeus and a cow? The child pastured amid flowers The Calf whom Zeus begot Of the Cow mother of our race Made pregnant by the breathing and caress of Zeus Seven Against Thebes This one was my favourite and a sort of prologue to Antigone it tells the story of how the two brothers came to kill each other For some reason the end made me laugh Antigone For you who died Ismene For you who killed Antigone My heart is wild with sobs Ismene My soul groans in my body Antigone Brother whom I weep for Ismene Brother most pitiable Antigone You were killed by your brother Ismene You killed your brother Antigone Twofold sorry to tell of Ismene Twofold sorrow to see Antigone Sorrow at the side of sorrow Ismene Sorrow brother to sorrow It's not even funny but late at night it was The Persians My least favourite about the account of the battle of Salamis and the victory of the Athenians over Xerxes' army and the latter's curse It was good but less engaging than the rest 34 Aeschylus 2 The Persians Seven Against Thebes The Suppliants Prometheus Bound by AeschylusPenn Greek Drama Series edited by David R Slavitt Palmer Boviepublished 1999format 205 page paperbackacuired May 30 read Jun 6 9rating 4 starsEach play had a different translatorThe Persians 472 bce translated by David R SlavittSeven Against Thebes 467 bce translated by Stephen SandyThe Suppliants 463 bce translated by Gail Holst WarhaftPrometheus Bound date unknown authorship contested translated by William MatthewsWhen I originally sat down to read some Greek tragedies I started with this book because Aeschylus's are the oldest surviving At first I was struck by how curious the beginning of The Persians was A prologue character opens the play and narrates the setting talking directly to the audience He opens The chorus of elders files in the enemy we despise Then goes on to describe these elders of the chorus and how we the audience will respond to them When he called me a New Yorker or Californian I finally figured out something wasn't right At this point I should have been terribly annoyed and hated the book These are original literary translations Slavitt was most free and creative in The Persians There are no prologue characters in the Greek tragedies Slavitt has essentially written his own play one that tries to modernize the ancient one while maintaining the general theme The other three plays are closer to simply translations They translate freely mixing excising and adding parts but they don't do anything as radical as add or subtract characters Anyway the reason I didn't hate this book is that I actually enjoyed Slavitt's creation Yes it left me feeling I still needed to read standard translations and for a few plays I did this But I gained something here too This book was for me worth the detour I reviewed The Persians and The Seven Against Thebes on their pages Some notes on the other twoThe Suppliants50 brides the Danaids flee their Egyptian grooms They travel oversea and land in Argos in Greece where they camp on holy ground They beg for protection from the gods and from the king of Argos hence the supplication It's the first of a lost trilogy Here the king of Argos agrees to protect them just as the 50 rejected grooms arrive In the next plays the king is killed and the sisters are married to the men The first night of marriage 49 sisters kill their new husbands One holds out—Hypermnestra refuses to kill Lynceus Lynceus eventually becomes king of ArgosThe Suppliants is odd in several ways It's uneventful and kind of boring and yet also curious and interesting as the woman plead for protection by reasoning They first argue they are in the right then they threaten mass suicide on sacred ground of Argos and act that would pollute this ground The translator in her preface thinks over the uestion of why this play was preserved when so many were lost She calls it a remote and haunting text whose august stance is hard to comprehend Prometheus BoundEasily the best of these four plays There is a lot going on here Prometheus is interesting The basic story line is that he is chained to cliff by Zeus forever as punishment for giving man fire Here he claims he gave man not only fire but everything needed for civilization including how to think and how to use math and study the stars He is visited by Oceanus who wishes to help him and Io as in Ionic who is rushing through her own troubles Hera turned her into a cow and has a fly endlessly harass her across the known world Finally Hermes comes to press Prometheus on a secret he has about the fate of Zeus The discussions are interesting and varied touching on personal fate and on how much to sacrifice and what it all means This is another survivor of a lost trilogy In Prometheus Unbound Zeus would free Prometheus who in return would warn Zeus not to marry Thetis In Prometheus the Fire Bringer Prometheus would finally convince Zeus not to marry Thetis She is married to a human and gives birth to the hero Achilles I'll note that there is some debate on the author of Prometheus Bound but I'll leave it there I'm not sure what author really meant to Greeks in this context anyway

Πέρσαι / Ἑπτὰ ἐπὶ Θήβας /
  • Paperback
  • 412 pages
  • Πέρσαι / Ἑπτὰ ἐπὶ Θήβας / Ἱκέτιδες / Προμηθεὺς Δεσμώτης
  • Aeschylus
  • English
  • 13 October 2016
  • 9780195373288