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The Bacchae and Other Plays (Penguin Classics) Paperback – October 30, 1954

ISBN-13: 978-0140440447 ISBN-10: 0140440445 Edition: Revised

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The Bacchae and Other Plays (Penguin Classics) + The Three Theban Plays: Antigone; Oedipus the King; Oedipus at Colonus + The Oresteia: Agamemnon; The Libation Bearers; The Eumenides
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 249 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (October 30, 1954)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140440445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140440447
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,007,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Greek (translation)

About the Author

Euripides, the youngest of the three great Athenian playwrights, was born around 485 BC of a family of good standing. He first competed in the dramatic festivals in 455 BC, coming only third; his record of success in the tragic competitions is lower than that of either Aeschylus or Sophocles. There is a tradition that he was unpopular, even a recluse; we are told that he composed poetry in a cave by the sea, near Salamis. What is clear from contemporary evidence, however, is that audiences were fascinated by his innovative and often disturbing dramas. His work was controversial already in his lifetime, and he himself was regarded as a ‘clever’ poet, associated with philosophers and other intellectuals. Towards the end of his life he went to live at the court of Archelaus, king of Macedon. It was during his time there that he wrote what many consider his greates work, the Bacchae. When news of his death reached Athens in early 406 BC, Sophocles appeared publicly in mourning for him. Euripides is thought to have written about ninety-two plays, of which seventeen tragedies and one satyr-play known to be his survive; the other play which is attributed to him, the Rhesus, may in fact be by a later hand.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Kouroukis on November 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
Vellacott's translations of Euripides are the greatest voice anyone has given Euripides...

This last volume contains high voltage energy! The Bacchae is his masterpiece and the main attraction!

The only thing about this edition is that Vellacott in the 1970's revised his original putting much of the text into verse, and taking out the original prose. I find the 1954 original much much better, it is more readable and exciting than his changes.

You must however look in the copyright page (towards the front of the book) to find out which print is the original 1954 version of the plays, because Penguin has a dozen of subsequent re-prints that have exactly the same front cover!

This may not matter to those starting out with Euripides but to me it is a big difference and enough for me to let you all know.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Edward J. Barton VINE VOICE on September 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This collection of 4 plays by Euripides includes Helen, The Women of Troy, the Baccae and Ion. There is a common theme running through the plays - the roles of war and violence in human nature.

The translation is very easy to read in common English, and the introduction is well written and gives the reader a good general overview of the 4 plays. Ion is a look at the role of faith in life, and the differences and difficulties in reconciling the reality of living with the demands of religion. The Women of Troy and Helen revolve around the Trojan War, and the horrors and absurdities that war causes mankind. Finally, the Bacchae explores religous violence and the dangers of mass hysteria and group think.

In all it is a very readable and very entertaining translation with messages understandable and applicable to modern man.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Claudia Saatchi on September 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Euripides is one of the great playwrights of classical Greece and with this collection (in translation) you have his complete works - as far as they exist.

I bought it because I am writing a series of poems based on Dionysus to accompany an exhibition by Mike Healey in Corfu early next year but you should buy this if you want to touch base with the ancient origins of great drama.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Leah Jesse on July 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read Philip Vellacott's translation of The Bacchae and The Women of Troy by Euripides for a Greek and Roman mythology course this summer. Having no previous experience with Greek plays, I found that these two plays have universal themes that still resonate down to our time.
The Bacchae was written around 406 B.C. when Euripides was approximately seventy years old. The play is a dramatization of Dionysus' return to his birthplace Thebes where he exacts revenge, because he is not given proper recognition as a divinity. The main themes include the superiority of the gods and the importance of appeasement and justice. Pentheus, the protagonist, represents human failing to respect the gods so that he, along with the rest of society, is guilty of hubris. The story also illustrates that a complete state of ecstasy can be sanctioned through Dionysiac worship as long as it is controlled by the god. There is also a patriarchal element that outlines the gender hierarchy within the divine and mortal societies of the Greeks.
The Women of Troy highlights the trials and tribulations of three women who were most affected by the Trojan War. Andromache, Cassandra, and Helen all have stories of heartbreak to tell and Euripides tells their stories in a sympathetic fashion. This play was produced in 415 BC, and it was a part of a trilogy, but the other two plays have been lost. Historically, the play was performed after the massacre on the island of Melos when the Athenians severely punished the inhabitants who wanted to withdraw from the League. Scholars have seen the play as a condemnation of the massacre set outside the walls of Troy.
I enjoyed reading these plays, and when I have some free time I'd like to continue on and read Ion and Helen which are plays also found in this edition.
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