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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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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: 5.2 x 0.4 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Aeschylus was born of a noble family near Athens in 525 BC. He took part in the Persian Wars and his epitaph, said to have been written by himself, represents him as fighting at Marathon. At some time in his life he appears to have been prosecuted for divulging the Eleusinian mysteries, but he apparently proved himself innocent. Aeschylus wrote more than seventy plays, of which seven have survived: The Suppliants, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes, Prometheus Bound, Agamemnon, The Choephori, and The Eumenides. (All are translated for Penguin Classics.) He visited Syracuse more than once at the invitation of Hieron I and he died at Gela in Sicily in 456 BC. Aeschylus was recognized as a classic writer soon after his death, and special privileges were decreed for his plays.

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Customer Reviews

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It's required reading.
John Cullom
The Persians must have been received very well by the Athenians because it casts Persia and her king Xerxes in a pitiful light.
Daniel Jolley
Once I got into the plays themselves, I could sense a rhythm for each one and made it pretty easy and fun to read.
Michael Kumpf

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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 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 500 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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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By John Cullom on May 22, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ok, missed these in college, but I think you have to read these, and quite frankly, they're a little better with some age on you. Prometheus Bound is more interesting after you have had a chance to watch people (perhaps yourself) let their ego run away with them and get them in horrible trouble. Otherwise, at 18-22 Prometheus is an unmittigated hero, and that's less interesting. As a bonus, Prometheus was used as a model for Milton's Satan, and that Satan is pretty much the coolest Devil. If the Fonz had a big brother, wouldn't you want to meet him? Fantastic lines in this one, and the translation is excellent. "Do you think I quake and cower before these upstart gods?" Use it in your next salary negotiation.

The Suppliants is kind of a waste of time. It's obviously the introduction to the action, and not much to reflect on unless you know a woman in an unhappy marriage, and then you can supply them with the line, "I would rather meet my fate in a drawn noose/ Than give my flesh to a husband I abhor;/ Sooner let Death possess me!" That'll add zazz to any domestic argument.

Seven Against Thebes is fantastic and serves as the end to the Oedipus trilogy if you want to read it that way. Lots of great slams on the boastful and praise to the quiet effective types. It's required reading.

The Persians is great reading right now if you're not thrilled with the way America is headed under current leadership. It's about the most powerful empire in the world shattering its massive army in a war of folly. Superior wealth and technology (bridge of boats across the ocean) are squandered in the wastelands. It's from the point of view of the losers, and I can't help but think it's cautionary to the Greeks rather than celebratory. America should read it that way as well.
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