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Aeschylus: Eumenides (Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics) 0th Edition
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I found this edition of the third play of Aeschylus' Oresteia very fine and very complete, and I was able to read all of the Eumenides with it -- and I am only in my second year of Greek (although my dedication may be above average). Sommerstein hits all the notes and remains balanced. The emendations are eminently well-defended; the meters are clear; the notes are thick and well-written. The historical overview of the years leading up to 458, when the play was produced, is unusually thorough for a book like this and deserves to become the standard for all such introductions. The cross-referencing with lines from other Greek literature is exhaustive and complete; much of the cross-referencing to different articles and works by modern authors impresses as well, with one caveat below.
Depending on which kind of an Oresteia scholar you are, you may become frustrated with this book. In his notes, Sommerstein evades many of the gender issues that are seen by some as essential to the play. This is done with the utmost in skill, though, so if you didn't know (or couldn't read or think) you might think there were no gender issues in the play. Hand-in-hand with this fact, he ignores important American writing on the Oresteia (done by Froma Zeitlin in her bold, some might venture to say excessive, but nonetheless important 1977 article "The Dynamics of Misogyny," for example) and does subscribe to a view of the Oresteia with which I have great sympathy, but that some may find naively progressive. To wit, Sommerstein believes the Oresteia to be about joy, triumph, cooperation in Athens, and a new era.
Overall, regardless of these matters this book is very fine. I would certainly use it were I to teach a reading class on the play.
The furies basically take the role of the chorus in the 3rd chapter. Basically, the furies do Zeus' dirty work for him. (Kind of along the line odf a Devil's Advocate.)Well, Zeus's son Apollo is confident the outcome will turnout in Orestes's favor. (Why not? Apollo is Zeus's son, and he commanded Orestes to avenge Agamemnon. And his 1/2 sister Athena is going to be the judge.)
Orestes places in faith in Apollo. For one final time Clytemnestra (now a ghost) appears and demands vengeance for her murder. (It would appear that Aeschylus knows that murder and revenge transcend life and death.)
When Apollo tells the furies to get out, he almost sounds like a priest performing an exorcism: "Out, out! Be off, and clear of this holy place /of your foul pestilence..." Interestingly, when Apollo confronts the furies with the full story, they have a mafia like theory. It was alright for Clytemnestra to kill Agamemnon, because he wasn't family by blood. It was wrong for Orestes to kill Clytemnestra because she was his mother.
but we can trust that Athena (goddess of wisdom) will bring reason to this dispute. Interestingly, Apollo continues to sound like a priest combating evil: "I would not have your powers, even as a gift."
Orestes continues to place his trust in Athena and Apollo. Throughout the trial, the furies emphasize their distance from the gods.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I find this Greek tragedy very relevant today! What is law? What is judgment? Whsat is punishment - today or 5000 years ago.Published on November 21, 2012 by ruth berdick
There is no denying The Eumenides' greatness and profound importance; it is a foundational text not only in drama but in literature itself and remains a clear masterpiece after... Read morePublished on March 5, 2010 by Bill R. Moore
Aeschylus' The Eumenides is the third part of the Orestia Trilogy, recounting the murder of king Agamemnon and the blood bath that comes afterward. Read morePublished on September 14, 2003 by Justin Baas