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The Oresteia: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides

(Oresteia #1-3)

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  30,223 Ratings  ·  795 Reviews
Alternate cover edition can be found here, here, here, here

In the Oresteia—the only trilogy in Greek drama which survives from antiquity—Aeschylus took as his subject the bloody chain of murder and revenge within the royal family of Argos.

Moving from darkness to light, from rage to self-governance, from primitive ritual to civilized institution, their spirit of struggle an
Paperback, 335 pages
Published February 7th 1984 by Penguin Books USA Inc. (first published -458)
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Vilhelm Schmidt Less accessible than Macbeth ehh? Guess it’ll be getting bumped down on my list. I don’t consider myself a total dunce, but Macbeth has always been a…moreLess accessible than Macbeth ehh? Guess it’ll be getting bumped down on my list. I don’t consider myself a total dunce, but Macbeth has always been a bit too Shakespearean for my taste, and I love Shakespeare. The “walking shadow” soliloquy is immortally epic, but the play itself is pretty dry. It’s no Titus Andronicus, at any rate.(less)

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Apr 06, 2015 added it
Shelves: greek, theatre, poetry

Let good prevail ! So be it ! Yet what is good ? And who is God?

As many deeply conservative societies have discovered time and time again - societies in which there is only one right order and this order is warranted by the highest authorities recognized by the society - when change comes, and come it always must,(*) not only do those in power tumble, but the authority of the gods/priests, ancestors, laws, whatever the highest authorities happen to be in that society, comes into question. New
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is pretty fantastic. I'm surprised. I think I like this old Greek trilogy of plays better than all the others that I've read. That's including Oedipus. :P

The translation is pretty awesome, the tragedy is beautiful, and the underlying theme of justice and the balance of power between men and women is stark and heavy.

But isn't it about murder and eye-for-an-eye taken to extremes? Yeah, but it's still more than that.

It's mainly about honoring your children and honoring your parents. It's not a
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I can only vouch for this Robert Fagles' translation, but yes, astonishingly gripping after more than 2,400 years.
نقد روز
اورستیا سه گانه ای است که آیسخولوس، نمایشنامه نویس کلاسیک یونانی در قرن پنجم پیش از میلاد نوشت. این اثر شامل سه نمایشنامه به هم مرتبط به نام های آگاممنون، نیازآوران و الاهگان انتقام است. کل این سه نمایشنامه در سال ۴۵۸ پیش از میلاد در یونان اجرا شد و از آن همیشه به عنوان یکی از تحسین شده ترین و بزرگ ترین کارهای آیسخولوس یاد می شود. داستان درباره فراز و نشیب های خاندان آترئوس است، از قتل آگاممنون توسط همسرش شروع می شود و انتقام پسر او به نام اورستس و عواقب بعدی آن را ادامه می دهد.

اورستیا تنها نما
Luís C.
1st Part. Agamémnon
"Agamemnon" is based on the victorious return of the hero to Argos after winning the Trojan War and avenged the honor of his brother Menelaus, husband of Helen, who had fled to Paris. The wife of Agamemnon, Climnestra, in turn, also betrays him, and architect husband's murder with her lover.

2nd Part. Coephori
In "Choephori" Orestes and Electra, children of Agamemnon, avenges his death by killing his mother and her lover. The Climnestra's anger is materialized in the Furies.

Teresa Proença
"... que cidade ou homem poderá venerar a Justiça, se viver sem sombra de medo no seu coração?"

Atreu e Tiestes são irmãos gémeos. Quando Atreu (rei de Micenas) descobre que o irmão é amante da sua mulher, decide vingar-se: mata os filhos de Tiestes e convida-o para um banquete, dando-lhos a comer. Salva-se o mais novo, Egisto.
Atreu é pai de Agamémnon. Durante o tempo em que este esteve ausente, na guerra de Tróia, Egisto torna-se amante da mulher do primo, Clitemnestra, e planeia vingar-se do cr
Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing

....Just passed the Libation Bearers. Aeschylus has a way with ironic, monumental dialogues which portend tremendous climaxes. The language is so deep and seeps into the interaction- apparantly he suggests that there are no good options in life, merely the best of the worst, and that one must take their place amid the roil. Wisdom. This resonates with me, in the way that a drama read on the page will, as I imagine the perfect language and staging to bear witness to it....bigger review to follow,
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The penguin classics version is to be particularly recommended - The translation works very well and the 90 page introduction is just brilliant.

As for the plays, well...they are essential reading obviously. And like all great works in translation, one should really read 2 or 3 different versions in order to get as close as possible to the “original”. The Fagles translation should certainly be one of those versions.
A Reading of 'The Oresteia': The Serpent and the Eagle

--The Libation Bearers
--The Eumenides

The Genealogy of Orestes
Select Bibliography
Elie F
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Aeschylus' prose certainly deserves five stars, so dense and moving. Even though his primary focus in Oresteia was ethics, justice, crime/punishment, and changes in social order, the subjective emotions and psychologies of characters are conveyed powerfully. Orestes is not really "heroic" in a Homeric sense, but he presents a less egoistic and more god-fearing type of man in a tormenting pursuit of righteousness. The Oresteia combines both tragic and comic elements, and presents both optimism an ...more
Even compared to other Greek tragedies, the Oresteia stands out. It's not just about the family drama or the bloody cycle of revenge. It's more than that. It's about peering deeply into the darkness of the human soul, stripping any semblance of control over one's destiny, and seeing what would result--madness.

Orestes was driven by forces more ancient and far bloodier than his mere judgment. In a society divinely centered on the family, Orestes was ordained to avenge his father's death, even if i
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: play, poetry
মহৎ সাহিতয করতে হেন করতে হবে তেন করতে হবে এইটা মনে হয় খুব বেশি সতয না, এখন, বা অযাসকাইলাসের আমলেও। মানে, এই লোক আর কী করছে, নিজেদের চারদিকে ছড়ানো কাহিনীরে ইচছামত পালটাইছেন, নিজের সময়ের সমসযাগুলি ধরে রাখতে, বযস, হয়ে গেলো -

আমি খুবই অবাক হইলাম বইয়ের শেষের উচচারণের লিষটি থেকে জানতে পেরে যে অযাসকাইলাসের নাম নাকী অযাসকাইলাস না, ঈসকিলাস বা আয়সকিলাস। এদদিন ধরে ভুলভাল ডেকে আসছি এই লোকেরে - অবশয নামসংহারে কীই বা উলটে যায়। গলপে আসি -
পরথম নাটক আগে একবার পড়া ছিলো, গেলো বছর সমভবত। এই তিনের সেরাটা পরথমটাই আমার
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ماجرا چیست؟
پاریس، شاهزادۀ زیبای تروا، حق نمک میزبان را بهجای نمیآورد و از سرزمین آخایی (یونان)، هلن، همسر زیبای منلائوس، برادرِ فرمانروای یونان، آگاممنون را اغوا میکند و با خود به تروا میآورد. آگاممنون با هزاران کشتی به سمت تروا لشکر میکشد، اما در میانه گرفتار طوفان میشود و در دریاها سرگردان. ندایی غیبی به او میرسد که چارۀ کار، قربانی کردن دخترش برای پوزئیدون، خدای دریاها است. او این کار را میکند و اینگونه دریاها را رام میکند؛ اما خشم همسرش کلوتایمنسترا را که در یونان به جای او فرمانروایی میکند
Riku Sayuj

Agamemnon (Oresteia, #1):The First Strike

The Libation Bearers (Oresteia, #2): The Course of The Curse

Eumenides (Oresteia, #3): Pending

Alexander Santiago
Mar 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Yes
This is perhaps ancient Greece's most famous tragic trilogy that has survived antiquity. "Agamemnon" deals with the treacherous murder of King Agamemnon, just returned from the Trojan war, at the hands of his wife, Clytemnestra, and his brother (who had an affair with his wife and coveted the throne). "The Libation Bearers" brings karmic and bloody retribution upon Clytemnestra at the hands of her only son, Orestes, avenging the death of his father. "The Eumenides" deals with Orestes flight from ...more
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: u-of-c
Q: How many great authors were inspired by the characters in these plays?
A: Bazillions, give or take.
The Furies-- wrathful, smelly, wraith-like she-beasts-- are among the most fascinating creatures ever spawned by our collective unconscious. (Delivered by Dr. Aeschylus, no doubt via one putrid and grizzly c-section) these girls predate the Olympian pantheon and specialize in erasing people who murder their own family members.
Every time I experience a taste for revenge (and it happens more freque
Connie (Ava Catherine)
At the beginning of the fifth century, it was customary for each of the tragedians competing at the festival of Dionysus to present a trilogy of three plays on a related theme, followed by a satyr-play. The Oresteia is the only surviving example of a Greek tragic trilogy, so it has immense importance in the history of drama.

Each of the plays is self-contained; however, the endings of the first two plays transition naturally into the following plays. Each play has its own chorus and an almost se
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
I actually read this twice. Back-to-back in the style of Mortimer Adler. The first time through I read it with only some of the initial commentary of the translator. Additionally, I had some background provided by a Great Courses lecture. The second time through I read along with the translator's entire commentary. I would have enjoyed the trilogy very much without the second reading but it was with the second reading that I developed a real appreciation for the work.

Mind you, I'm a skeptic when
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Robert Fagles' translation is excellent.

The Oresteia was written as a trilogy, and according to the scholars is the only Greek drama that survives as such. I would definitely recommend reading all 3 parts together, as they build one after the other. This trilogy is deceptively simple, in some ways, but the excellent introductory essay by W.B. Stanford, titled "The Serpent and the Eagle", helped me to see the much deeper issues that are explored in the play. I don't want to put any spoilers in th
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: black-metal
Overall, The Oresteia was a brutal work, savage and eloquent. I highly recommend you listen to Norwegian black metal whilst reading this, as it really adds to the experience. Then again, I find that listening to Norwegian black metal adds to the experience of such activities as driving to the grocery store, so I may be a tad bit biased there.

Some of my favorite excerpts:

“…we must suffer, suffer into truth.
We cannot sleep, and drop by drop at the heart
the pain of pain remembered comes again,
Justin Evans
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-and-drama
I tried to read 'Prometheus Bound' years ago, and couldn't finish it. Clearly I should have waited a while- The Oresteia, in the Fagles translation, is one of the most remarkable books I've ever read. Darker and more violent than anything the 20th century could come up with, it's also brighter and more hopeful than anything from the 19th century. It's as if someone had written both Schiller's 'Ode to Joy' and Eliot's 'Waste Land', and it was one book, only there was far deeper social, political ...more
May 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Like so many other things that I've been reading lately, Aeschylus's trilogy is concerned with human beings thrown into the crucible of extremest intensity, pressured from every direction my conflicting obligations, driven to violent action and violent remorse. Few poets are as willing as Aeschylus to stare into the profound darkness of human suffering and name the curse that seems to hold us to the wheel of our own violence. Yet, even fewer are ultimately as hopeful about the possibility of our ...more
Jun 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un antico proverbio è diffuso tra gli uomini, che la felicità dei mortali, raggiunto il suo culmine, partorisce, non muore sterile: dalla fortuna germoglia alla stirpe dolore insaziabile.


Chiunque è incline a piangere con l'infelice; ma il morso del dolore non gli penetra fino nell'infinito; così, per mostrare di gioire con chi è felice, sforza il suo volto che fa resistenza al sorriso.

May 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama
“I have suffered into truth.” Orestes makes that declaration in The Eumenides, the third of the trilogy of plays dealing with the House of Atreus’s tendency to take empassioned revenge as their only acceptable call to action in a crisis. You expect excellence from Robert Fagles. His translations of Homer are superb. And you also expect it from Aeschylus, whose surviving plays endure and thrive in the hands of translators of craft and imagination across the centuries.

Aeschylus presents a generati
Fenomenal, a Oresteia: Agamémnon e Euménides em primeiro, em mérito equiparáveis; Coéforas em segundo, não por isso menos notável.

Surpreendi-me ao pensar que o final da primeira peça pudesse ser o ponto alto da trilogia, pois revejo nas Euménides o expoente máximo da perícia lírica de Ésquilo. Embora a primeira seja, de facto, a peça que mais explora o «carácter trágico da tragédia», é nesta última que o poeta revela toda a sua mestria e irreverência, no bom sentido do termo, a ponto de adulter
Oct 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
A dramatic trilogy for both Gods and men. Aeschylus' ability to weave and connect his tragedies seems second nature in today's world of sequels, trilogies, and Star Wars prequels, but Aescheylus' genius existed both in the original form and the brilliant substance of his surviving plays. I can understand how Swinburne could call the Oresteia trilogy the "greatest spiritual work of man." The Oresteia is at once brilliant, creepy, and infinitely tragic (only family dramas can be so damn full of pa ...more
Nidhi Mahajan
Highly recommend it if you enjoy Ancient Greek Literature. The trilogy presents the development of early democratic elements in the Greek city-states within the larger narrative of a chain of murders. The character of Clytemnestra, Aeschylus' giving a voice to minor characters in society, and the debate surrounding Zeus' Will, Fate, and Justice are interesting aspects in the plays. Looking forward to studying it for class and writing about it.
I read Robert Fagles translation; it is accessible while retaining the powerful and subtle language and imagery of Aeschylus’ work. This (Penguin Classics) edition includes a well-written and very useful introductory essay, The Serpent and the Eagle – A Reading of 'The Oresteia', written in collaboration with W. B. Stanford (as are the notes). The introduction, about 75 pages long, gives a wealth of background information to complement the reading experience of the dramatic trilogy itself – this ...more
I enjoyed reading this back in school after I had read The Iliad & The Odyssey. I haven't read them in years, but still remembered a lot of the names. Still, I thought I should read a summary of this first since it is an audio play, complete with the chorus. It was really good & I'm glad that I did read the Wikipedia article first. You can find it here:

The twisty way the gods used men & people used each other makes this fascinating. Glad I listen
Oct 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
I had in my mind that the these plays were full of mythology of the pantheon of Greek gods.

There are gods, yes, and other mythological creatures like the Furies, but there is so much more there, themes of duty, of humility, hubris, sin and forgiveness, the weight and fullness of history (the Trojan War) and family.

Out of these three plays Aeschylus sharply defined characters that still are echoed today. Clytemnestra, Cassandra and Iphigenia are still used as descriptions and figures today.

I lik
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  • Euripides V: Electra / The Phoenician Women / The Bacchae
  • Sophocles II: Ajax/Women of Trachis/Electra/Philoctetes (Complete Greek Tragedies 4)
  • Frogs and Other Plays
Aeschylus (525 BC – 456 BC)
Greek Αισχύλος , Ésquilo in Portuguese; Esquilo in Spanish; Eschyle en français.

Aeschylus, an ancient Greek playwright, is often recognized as the father or the founder of tragedy. He is the earliest of the three Greek tragedians whose plays survive extant, the others being Sophocles and Euripides. According to Aristotle, he expanded the number of characters in plays to

Other books in the series

Oresteia (4 books)
  • Agamemnon (Oresteia, #1)
  • The Libation Bearers (Ορέστεια, #2)
  • Eumenides (Ορέστεια, #3)
“Nothing forces us to know
What we do not want to know
Except pain”
“Oh, the torment bred in the race,
the grinding scream of death
and the stroke that hits the vein,
the hemorrhage none can staunch, the grief,
the curse no man can bear.

But there is a cure in the house, and not outside it, no,
not from others but from them,
their bloody strife. We sing to you,
dark gods beneath the earth.

Now hear, you blissful powers underground --
answer the call, send help.
Bless the children, give them triumph now.”
More quotes…