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Prometheus Bound and Other Plays: Prometheus Bound, The Suppliants, Seven Against Thebes, The Persians (Penguin Classics) Paperback – August 30, 1961

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Prometheus Bound and Other Plays: Prometheus Bound, The Suppliants, Seven Against Thebes, The Persians (Penguin Classics) + The Oresteia: Agamemnon; The Libation Bearers; The Eumenides + The Three Theban Plays: Antigone; Oedipus the King; Oedipus at Colonus
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About the Author

Aeschylus was born of noble family near Athens in 525 BC. He took part in the Persian Wars, adn his epitahp represents him as fighting at Marathon. He wrote more than seventy plays, of which only seven have survived.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (August 30, 1961)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140441123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140441123
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By R. D. Allison (dallison@biochem.med.ufl.edu) on May 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
Vellacott has supplied us with excellent translations with commentaries on the four non-Oresteian plays. The seven plays of Aeschylus should be read by every college-level student, irrespective of their major (I'm in the sciences and I have enjoyed them). The popular "Prometheus Bound" is concerned with the conflict between force and injustice on one side and intelligence, justice, and altruism on the other. The Titan Prometheus, who has stolen fire from heaven and given it to Earth's mortal inhabitants, is being punished for his presumption by being bound to a rock on Mount Caucasus and tortured. He can foretell the future, but refuses to tell Zeus the secret of Zeus' downfall. "The Persians" is the least read play; probably because it has very little action. But, I like it. It is the oldest surviving play based on an event of recent history. The play was first produced in 472 B. C., only eight years after the Battle of Salamis. The speech by the Messenger in the play is the earliest known historical account of that battle. A disgraced Xerxes follows the Messenger. Interestingly, this play also contains the earliest known appearance by a ghost in a drama. "The Suppliants" is the first play of a trilogy, has very little action, and is merely a prologue to the two missing members of the trilogy. The fifty daughters of Danaus are fleeing from the fifty sons of Aegyptus, their cousins. The daughters seek sanctuary from Pelasgus, King of Argos. The play, and probably the trilogy, focuses on when city-states should give sanctuary to others. "Seven Against Thebes" is a retelling of the war between the sons of Oedipus, Eteocles and Polyneices. They were to supposed to share power in Thebes but have quarrelled.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John H. on September 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's hard to give an overall review on this, as it's a collection of plays from antiquity where most of the surrounding context is lost. Aeschylus' plays were usually in trilogies and with only one part of a trilogy intact, it makes it hard to appreciate certain aspects of these plays. You can tell that Aeschylus tried to push the envelope, and come up with new technique for what was a relatively new medium at the time. From reading the introduction by the translator Philip Velacott, I get the strong sense that these are just glimpses into what were very moving trilogies.

Prometheus Bound is an introduction to a trilogy of plays featuring the titular Prometheus first being chained to a rock, then explaining to various passersby his story. The initial violence of the opening scene is jarring, but the majority of the play itself is very subdued, with Prometheus telling of his crimes against Zeus but that he has no regrets of bringing humanity it's greatest gift and bears his punishment gladly. This sacrifice is a pretty common thread across Western myths, but it shines very powerfully here.

The Supplicants basically sets the stage for a deeper, more moving trilogy where the bulk of the story is lost. Because of this, the play suffers drastically, as it just provides the context for something with a lot more action. I feel like this was very uninteresting and plodded along too slowly to be very memorable - but then again, it's just a teaser for the murderous undertaking to follow.

Seven Against Thebes was the real standout gem for me. Since it's the last part and apex of a trilogy rife with murder and struggle, it doesn't really hold back. In this story the citadel of Cadmea is under attack by seven bloodthirsty warriors. It's up the heroic defenders to stave them off.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Kumpf on April 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have never read Aeschylus before. I was familiar with some of the basics of Greek mythology and I've read some of Homer and Sophocles but that was about it. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I enjoyed these plays, with the exception of The Suppliants, which I thought was too slow and a bit boring. I liked Vellacott's translation. I can't comment on the accuracy of it, but I do think he did a good job bringing the plays to life. Once I got into the plays themselves, I could sense a rhythm for each one and made it pretty easy and fun to read. His introduction is short-a brief note about the playwright and then some background information on the plays themselves-a brief synopsis and the main themes of the plays. He doesn't overwhelm you with background information in the introduction. There are a few pages of footnotes. They weren't overly footnoted, which I liked because they didn't break the flow of the dialog.

If you have no knowledge of Greek mythology, I'd suggest some brief background reading before diving into the plays to familiarize yourself with some of the main players in the plays. Worth checking out for sure.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Of dozens of plays written by Aeschylus, only 7 survive. Three comprise the great Oresteia and the other 4 are brought together in this anthology. Most are the surviving members of trilogies. All are at least interesting and contain much powerful language. None have the impact of the Oresteia, though its impossible to know what impression they would make if read or performed with the missing components of the trilogies. The Persians, written not long after the catastrophic Persian defeat at Salamis, is a surprisingly sympathetic portrayal of the Persian court learning of the defeat. Seven against Thebes, part of Aeschylus' rendering of the Oedipus myth, shows an interesting aspect of the story with language recalling Homeric epics. The somewhat static Suppliants, which seems to have been essentially a prologue with its lost successors in a trilogy, is the least interesting. Prometheus Bound is the most interesting, largely because of the powerful and sympathetic figure of Prometheus. Aeschylus' Prometheus is no stick figure of virtue; arrogant, even sarcastic in his defiance of the Olympian Gods, he is a compelling champion of humanity. Somewhat like the Oresteia, a major theme of Prometheus Bound and presumably the whole trilogy is the conflict of reason and power.
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Prometheus Bound and Other Plays: Prometheus Bound, The Suppliants, Seven Against Thebes, The Persians (Penguin Classics)
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