The Greek Tragedy Collection brings together the works of the three most important Greek tragedians—Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles. Though numerous tragedies were written in fifth-century Greece, the plays of these men are the only full-length texts to survive.
Aeschylus, the “father of tragedy,” is credited with presenting the first-ever trilogy of plays (included in Aeschylus, vol. 2) and for adding a second actor to the stage, allowing for more dialogue and dramatic variety. The young Sophocles defeated Aeschylus, the undisputed master poet, in a dramatic competition and continued to innovate by adding a third actor to the stage and relying less on the chorus for advancing plot. Works like Oedipus the King and Electra transformed the spirit and focus of Greek drama. The moral and religious themes of Aeschylus gave way to the decisions and plights of individuals in the tragedies of Sophocles.
Euripides continued to change the face of Greek tragedy with his treatment of the protagonist. His heroes are often ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and their focus is mainly internal as they present monologues to express motives and feelings. These dramatic shifts give the modern reader a peek into the history of ancient Greece and the cultural changes it underwent during the lives of these great poets. The 33 plays included in this collection are the best examples of tragedy from the men responsible for creating the genre.
Each text includes the original Greek and an English translation for easy side-by-side comparison. Logos’ language tools allow you to go deeper into the Greek text and explore Aeschylus’, Sophocles’, and Euripides’ elegant language. Use the dictionary lookup tool to examine difficult English words used by the translator. Students of literature, history, mythology, religion, and the dramatic arts will enjoy these works and appreciate their significance.
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Aeschylus (ca. 525–456 BC) is the dramatist who made Athenian tragedy one of the world’s great art forms. He witnessed the establishment of democracy at Athens and fought against the Persians at Marathon. He won the tragic prize at the City Dionysia 13 times between ca. 499 and 458 BC, and in his later years was victorious almost every time he put on a production.
Euripides (ca. 485–406 BC) is one of antiquity’s greatest poets. He has been prized in every age for the pathos, terror, surprising plot twists, and intellectual probing of his dramatic creations. He wrote nearly 90 plays, and of these, 18 have come down to us from antiquity.
Sophocles (ca. 496–406 BC), with Aeschylus and Euripides, was one of the three great tragic dramatists of Athens, and is considered one of the world’s greatest poets. The subjects of his plays were drawn from mythology and legend. His plays contain at least one heroic figure—a character whose strength, courage, or intelligence exceeds the human norm, but who also possesses extraordinary pride or self-assurance. This combination of qualities leads to a tragic end for his characters.