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Euripides IV: Rhesus / The Suppliant Women / Orestes / Iphigenia in Aulis

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In nine paperback volumes, the Grene and Lattimore editions offer the most comprehensive selection of the Greek tragedies available in English. Over the years these authoritative, critically acclaimed editions have been the preferred choice of over three million readers for personal libraries and individual study as well as for classroom use.


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In nine paperback volumes, the Grene and Lattimore editions offer the most comprehensive selection of the Greek tragedies available in English. Over the years these authoritative, critically acclaimed editions have been the preferred choice of over three million readers for personal libraries and individual study as well as for classroom use.

30 review for Euripides IV: Rhesus / The Suppliant Women / Orestes / Iphigenia in Aulis

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    Rhesus: 3/5 The Supplicant Women: 3/5 Orestes: 4/5 Iphigenia in Aulis: 5/5

  2. 4 out of 5

    Grady Ormsby

    Rhesus by Euripides is about an event told in Book Ten of Homer’s Iliad. It is a short play. It’s interesting but without the dramatic impact of Medea, Orestes or Electra. The play contains spying, disguises, deception, murder, mistaken identity, manipulation by the gods, horse theft and even a resurrection with immortality. The themes are some of the common ones found in ancient Greek tragedy; destiny, loyalty, friendship and sacrifice. The authorship of Rhesus has been disputed since antiquity, Rhesus by Euripides is about an event told in Book Ten of Homer’s Iliad. It is a short play. It’s interesting but without the dramatic impact of Medea, Orestes or Electra. The play contains spying, disguises, deception, murder, mistaken identity, manipulation by the gods, horse theft and even a resurrection with immortality. The themes are some of the common ones found in ancient Greek tragedy; destiny, loyalty, friendship and sacrifice. The authorship of Rhesus has been disputed since antiquity, but who, besides a few scholars, cares? I suppose Euripides might care, but he’s dead. Regardless of who wrote it, I enjoyed it. Check out the Classics. There are reasons they have stood the test of time. Orestes by Euripides is from the catalog of classic Greek drama. Start with two sisters. They marry two brothers. One of the sisters, Helen, runs off, not to Paris, but with Paris. The two brothers start a war to get the errant wife to come back home. They are gone for ten years. When he returns home, the brother who left his wife behind discovers both sisters are unfaithful bitches. The stay-at-home wife is not only unfaithful; she is murderous. She and her boyfriend kill her husband. Understandably, their son, Orestes, is pretty upset by all this. He kills his mom and her boyfriend. With much debate the people in the town are going through the process of developing their notions of law, courts, justice and punishment. Seeing right away that a conspiracy is always better than a simple crime, they decide that Orestes, his sister and his best friend must all die. They ignore Orestes’ classic argument of five-year-olds everywhere, “The devil made me do it.” (Actually instead of devil, he said Apollo.) Orestes’ uncle returns with the straying Helen. Orestes tries to get him to persuade the town folk to go easy on him. The uncle, forgetting how Orestes’ dad went to war for him, refuses. The three condemned kids decided that since they are doomed anyhow, Helen must die and her daughter should be taken hostage in order to pull off an escape. While the Greeks were working out the foundations of justice, law, democracy and the rest of Western Civilization, they were also grappling with religion. One central problem they contended with was why the gods were so often ungodly, and behaved so much like mortals. They were jealous, vindictive, scheming, angry, capricious, and often without mercy or rationally. In a classic deus ex machina rescue Apollo finally appears and admits that he did indeed cause Orestes to commit his murderous deeds. Without explaining why such disorder and mayhem was necessary he restores harmony and everyone, except the dead people, live happily ever after. So there you have it. Who said our times are the most troubling and complicated in history? In 408 BCE Euripides gives us infidelity, murder, revenge, kidnapping, honor, courage, dishonesty, selfishness, greed, friendship, madness, hallucinations, grief, betrayal, powerful emotions and tragic despair. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. The creativity of Euripides is in the writing. His culture provided him with ready-made mythical plots with very real and human conflict and characters often involved in somewhat bizarre and unlikely situations. The Suppliant Women has a familiar backstory. After Oedipus leaves Thebes, his sons fight for control. Polynices lays siege to the city against his brother Eteocles. The invaders lose the battle, and both brothers die. Creon takes power and decrees the invader’s dead are not to be buried. The women of Argos, mothers of the dead, seek help to reverse this policy, so their sons can be buried. They ask Aethra, the mother of the Athenian king Theseus, to intervene for them. The story is the nexus for the intersection of a wealth of themes. On the human level there is grief, inhumanity, retribution and the power of gender. On the social and political levels there are the questions of the balance between law and tradition, the struggle between democracy and despotism and the intricacies of leadership.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Taka

    Pretty good-- This is another uneven collection of Euripides' plays, Rhesus, The Suppliant Women, Orestes, and Iphigenia in Aulis, the last two of which are, I think, substantially better than the first two. Rhesus takes place dead in the middle of the Trojan War, based on the night sortie episode from Homer's Iliad where Dolon the Trojan spy meets his unlucky death at the hands of Odysseus and Diomedes, who, the Achaean spies themselves, skulk to the Trojan camp and slaughter those who are sleep Pretty good-- This is another uneven collection of Euripides' plays, Rhesus, The Suppliant Women, Orestes, and Iphigenia in Aulis, the last two of which are, I think, substantially better than the first two. Rhesus takes place dead in the middle of the Trojan War, based on the night sortie episode from Homer's Iliad where Dolon the Trojan spy meets his unlucky death at the hands of Odysseus and Diomedes, who, the Achaean spies themselves, skulk to the Trojan camp and slaughter those who are sleeping and defenseless, and scramble back home in a stolen chariot - in short, a hell of a heroic episode. Euripides remolds this pathetic episode into tragedy by making Rhesus - some obscure, minor character in Homer's epic - mightier than Achilles and Ajax and having Athene announce to Odysseus and Diomedes that if he doesn't die tonight, he'll single-handedly exterminate the Achaeans the next day. So Odysseus and Diomedes kill him while sleeping (which is really not that tragic, but well, considering that the Trojans would've wiped the Achaeans in a rout and ended the war if Rhesus had survived, it is, in a way, tragic). The Suppliant Women is a better play than Rhesus, but still weak in that the protagonist is the suppliant women represented by the chorus, rendering it difficult to sympathize with what's happening (Adrastus does come close to being a principal character, but not quite), although it is still tragic in that the "happy" ending of Theseus bringing back the dead soldiers for proper burial is not really a "happy" ending, even though the suppliant women's wishes are fulfilled, for their husbands and sons are, after all, dead. Orestes is far superior to the above two in that it is an exciting play with quick actions and escalating conflict. Orestes and Electra are condemned to death for matricide while their uncle, Menelaus basically refuses to help them. Pissed off at their uncle, they decide to kill his wife and daughter who happen to be visiting the palace. With the help of their ultra-loyal friend Pylades, they round up Helen's servants and try to kill Helen only to see her disappear into thin air. Forced to give the first murderous scheme up, they take hostage of Herimone and threaten to kill her and raze the palace to the ground unless Menelaus bails them out AND restore Orestes to the throne. Hearing this outrageous demand, Menelaus in turn gets pissed off, and tries to storm into the palace with the whole Argos population at his heel when Helen's literally divine brothers, Castor and Pollux appear and solve everything in an incredibly lame ex deus machina way. So the play had everything right up till the very last moment, I think. Finally, Iphigenia in Aulis is quite excellent in the treatment of Agamemnon, who has to sacrifice his beloved daughter against his will, and his daughter and wife, who are, understandably, aghast to learn that their husband/father is intending to kill his daughter. Menelaus comes off almost comically as a jackass when he demands that his brother sacrifice his daughter so that he can bring back his adulterous wife, Helen. Seeing Agamemnon bawling his eyes out, he relents and they make up and everything seems to be going well until Clytemnestra arrives there with Iphigenia, intending to marry her daughter off to Achilles. Clytemnestra meets Achilles and learns that it was her husband's ruse to get Iphigenia there so he can sacrifice her. Blowing up (not literally) at this revelation, they confront Agamemnon, and grill and roast the shit out of him (again, not literally), but he runs away. Then Achilles, who swore that he'd protect his alleged betrothed, comes fumbling in and tells them that the WHOLE Greek army is against him (even his good ol' Myrimidons) and wants to see her die (but of course he can, being Achilles, tak'em all out singlehandedly if his beloved betrothed would just give him a token nod of go-ahead). Being the saintly child that she is, Iphigenia gives up her life and volunteers to be sacrificed. Pretty sad, I know, but a good story.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    Orestes *** This has a rather modern feel for a 2,500 year old play. I’m not sure if that’s in the original or if it is Arrowsmith’s translation. In the play, Euripides moves the ancient story of Orestes to what for him was modern times. Unlike Aeschylus’ Orestes, Euripides’s Orestes must face contemporary legal punishment. It’s all a rather odd take on the tale. There’s a good bit of posturing and melodramatic dialogue that gets a bit dull, but the odd tone is rather interesting. (09/17) Iphigen Orestes *** This has a rather modern feel for a 2,500 year old play. I’m not sure if that’s in the original or if it is Arrowsmith’s translation. In the play, Euripides moves the ancient story of Orestes to what for him was modern times. Unlike Aeschylus’ Orestes, Euripides’s Orestes must face contemporary legal punishment. It’s all a rather odd take on the tale. There’s a good bit of posturing and melodramatic dialogue that gets a bit dull, but the odd tone is rather interesting. (09/17) Iphigenia at Aulis *** Not one of Euripides’ more compelling works. Iphigenia accepts her fate to die on the sacrificial altar. In what appears a later addition, Iphigenia is replaced by Artemis with a hind. Iphigenia’s change of heart is explained about as well as it could. It is impossible to deny the gods. (09/18)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Of all the books of Euripides' plays, this is the easiest to skip over. His treatment of Orestes in the days after the murder is interesting in the way that he seems to extend the characters he created in Electra, but it is an unsatisfying play dramatically. The Rhesus isn't particularly good, nor is it thought to be authentically by Euripides. It's a story better told in the Iliad. Iphigenia in Aulis is interesting as one of the last known works of Euripides, but again, it is not a terribly com Of all the books of Euripides' plays, this is the easiest to skip over. His treatment of Orestes in the days after the murder is interesting in the way that he seems to extend the characters he created in Electra, but it is an unsatisfying play dramatically. The Rhesus isn't particularly good, nor is it thought to be authentically by Euripides. It's a story better told in the Iliad. Iphigenia in Aulis is interesting as one of the last known works of Euripides, but again, it is not a terribly compelling play to read. I would come to this book last of all the plays of Euripides.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mark Woodland

    What can I say? All of the well-known Greek playwrights are important reading, both for their historical significance as well as the fact that they're excellent plays. They haven't remained famous for 2,400 years because they're not worthy of it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Yanniey

    . The loeb translation makes no sense to me. Lattimore's is always the best.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karl

    Orestes.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    And another great collection of Greek tragedies that have also influenced modern writers.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sailor_doom

  11. 5 out of 5

    Reading

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sloan

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brook Martin

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joshua F

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lily

  16. 5 out of 5

    Vanya

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kayla

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lady

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Lucas

  20. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Mai

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maya

  22. 5 out of 5

    J

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anu Shaji

  24. 4 out of 5

    Neci McCullen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emily Clayton

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chamila Athale

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gemma

  28. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jorge E.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sandyd

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