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Athens of the fifth century B.C.E. represents one of the towering achievements of civilization. It is the crucible in which Western Civilization was given form. It created democracy: rule by the people. Of the three supreme tragedians of Classical Athens; Aeschylus, Sophokles and Euripides, Euripides (480's-406 B.C.E.) is the most modern. His people are no longer the heroes of Aeschylus, inspired by Homer and the Heroic world of war and warriors. Nor are they the more humanistic characters of Sophokles, who created men and women of grand moral integrity. Rather, Euripides' people are pyschologically drawn, they are frequently petty, conniving, and conflicted. In other words, they are like us. The plays included are: TROJAN WOMEN IPHIGENEIA IN TAURIS ION HELEN CYCLOPS
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Athens of the fifth century B.C.E. represents one of the towering achievements of civilization. It is the crucible in which Western Civilization was given form. It created democracy, not in its modern parliamentary or representative form, but a direct democracy, one in which the Athenian citizen governed himself, which is what democracy means: rule by the people. Along with this gift to civilization came trial by jury, and from there the flowering of a culture whose achievement has led the world ever since: Philosophy, sculpture, architecture, poetry-and by no means least-theater. Of the three supreme tragedians of Classical Athens, Aeschylus, in the first half of the century, took his tales largely from Homer and the Heroic World of war and warriors. Sophokles regarded man more humanistically, and created characters of grand moral integrity. Euripides, the last of the three, created his image of man less heroically, less idealistically. His image of man reflected what Athens became from mid-century onward: a super wealthy world power, a cruel colonist, and an ever-present danger to its Greek neighbors, a threat that precipitated the devastating Peloponnesian War (431–404) which was to end with the fall of Athens. The glory of Athens, then, from mid-century onward, degenerated fast into a world of collapsing political and moral structure, and this is the world that Euripides mirrors in his characters. His people are no longer the heroes of Aeschylus, the moral giants of Sophokles, but men who are frequently petty, conniving, small minded, out for themselves and their own aggrandizement. They are psychologically drawn, they are conflicted, they are frequently mad-in a word, they are us, if only we look deeply enough. Euripides is the most modern of the Greek tragedians. Volume I: Alkêstis, Mêdeia, Children of Heraklês, Hippolytos. Volume II: Andromachê, Hêkabê, Suppliant Women, Êlektra, The Madness of Heraklês.Volume III: Trojan Women, Iphigeneia in Tauris, Ion, Helen, Cyclops. Volume IV: Phoenician Women, Orestês, Bakkhai, Iphigeneia in Aulis, Rhesos. Of Mueller’s Aeschylus translations, PAJ (Journal of Performance and Art) has written: “For those who want their Greek alive and kicking (and screaming and bleeding), these translations of Aeschylus’s extant works will serve as a vital and exhilarating read. But more importantly, they will serve as superb acting texts of the world’s earliest playwright for today’s directors and designers.” And Library Journal writes of his Sophokles co-translations: “These contemporary English translations . . . bring Sophokles dramatically to life and serve to enhance our appreciation of the timelessness of his work.”About the Author:
CARL R. MUELLER has since 1967 been professor in the Department of Theater at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he ahs taught theater history, criticism, dramatic literature, and playwriting, as well as having directed. He was educated at Northwestern University, where he received a B.S. in English. After work in graduate English at the University of California, Berkeley, he received his M.A. in playwriting at UCLA, where he also completed his Ph.D. in theater history and criticism. In addition, he was a Fulbright Scholar in Berlin in 1960-1961. A translator for more than forty years, he has translated and published works by Büchner, Brecht, Wedekind, Hauptmann, Hofmannsthal, and Hebbel, to name a few. His published translation of von Horváth’s Tales from the Vienna Woods was given its London West End premiere in July 1999. For Smith and Kraus, he has translated volumes of plays by Schnitzler, Strindberg, Pirandello, Kleist, and Wedekind, as well as Goethe’s Faust, Parts I and II. In addition to translating the complete plays of Euripides and Aeschylus for Smith and Kraus, he has also co-translated the plays of Sophokles. His translations have been performed in every English-speaking country and have appeared on BBC-TV.
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