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The Oresteia

Translated by Alan Shapiro and Peter Burian

Publication Date - 07 October 2004

ISBN: 9780195135923

304 pages
5-5/16 x 8 inches

In Stock

A gripping new translation of the only complete trilogy of Greek tragic poetry


Aeschylus' Oresteia, the only ancient tragic trilogy to survive, is one of the great foundational texts of Western culture. It begins with Agamemnon, which describes Agamemnon's return from the Trojan War and his murder at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra, continues with her murder by their son Orestes in Libation Bearers, and concludes with Orestes' acquittal at a court founded by Athena in Eumenides. The trilogy thus traces the evolution of justice in human society from blood vengeance to the rule of law, Aeschylus' contribution to a Greek legend steeped in murder, adultery, human sacrifice, cannibalism, and endless intrigue. This new translation is faithful to the strangeness of the original Greek and to its enduring human truth, expressed in language remarkable for poetic intensity, rich metaphorical texture, and a verbal density that modulates at times into powerful simplicity. The translation's precise but complicated rhythms honor the music of the Greek, bringing into unforgettable English the Aeschylean vision of a world fraught with spiritual and political tensions.

About the Author(s)

Alan Shapiro is Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, including The Dead Alive and Busy, winner of the 2001 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Peter Burian is Professor of Classical Studies at Duke University. A critic and translator, he has published widely on Greek drama and its reception.


"A wonderful collaboration of scholar and poet...vividly responsive to the variety and power of Aeschylus' writing.... A great achievement."--David Ferry, poet and translator, and author of Of No Country I Know: New and Selected Poems and Translations

"Enthusiastically recommended...produces a language that is easy to read and easy to speak."--Library Journal [starred review]