The Three Theban Plays – Sophocles Translated by Robert Fagles with Notes on the Translation: Antigone, Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus. Robert Fagles’ translation conveys all of Sophocles’ lucidity and power: the cut The Three Theban Plays: Antigone; Oedipus the King; Oedip and millions of. In Meyer’s Bedford Introduction to Literature 8th editon, the Fagles translation, there are no marked or numbered scene breaks. See end of file for citing the play .

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It is only because Oedipus sends to, and then listens to, the oracle at Delphi, that he embarks on his investigation, the investigation that will end with his own exile and blinding. His voice is understandable — too quick in temper, yes, and too afraid, but still a reasonable man with understandable, and even admirable, objectives — even if, like Antigone, his actual motivations do not live up to his pronouncements. In the earlier two plays, this was frustrating; here, it rises to be the central characteristic of our impression of the play.

The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles | : Books

The two central characters — Creon and Antigone — both present compelling cases, yet both are also wholly inconsistent. Nor is it really a tragedy. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: It is a moment but frustrating and impressive — as echoed by Antigone on whom it evidently left a lasting impression, as Polynices will be the cause of her own death also, as she almost imitates his suicidal determination.

But at the same time, the penalty is far greater — in Homer, Oedipus is distraught but he remains king, while in Sophocles he rips out his own eyes and has himself sent into exile unto death. How do we value it? It is these two factors — the irresoluble conflict between two different ideological perspectives, each of which both frightens and attracts us, and underneath that the fundamental insincerity of the advocates both both positions — that make Antigone a strikingly modern play, or at least a strikingly modern idea for a play.

Email Address never made public. His hubris has no influence on things, and acts only to ironically highlight the tragedy that we know is coming. It has a frightening absurdity to it.

The Three Theban Plays

Are we meant to understand why Oedipus curses his sons? The fates are implacable and merciless. It is a striking reminder of the breadth of sanity, that the same writer who could express the humanitarianism of Antigone, the cold rationalism of Creon and the sensible, heroic, intellectual Oedipus could still treat in such matters as the magic powers of the corpses of heroes as though it were an everyday concept, beyond discussion.


There are many genuinely striking phrases that deserve to be remembered, but too much of it is fluff, and the translation of the aeolic verse is neither natural nor powerful in English.

In the earlier two plays, people doubt the gods — nobody does in the third. Oedipus, however, is quite a different man from Jesus, and his powers will be used differently: This allows a great deal of foreshadowing of events outside of the plays — and allows other things to be glossed over.

Oedipus the King is probably the least interesting of the three but the most readable. It is only because Laius believes that if he has a son the son will kill him that he has Oedipus abandoned at birth — otherwise, there would have been no strife between them.

Contrast the passion and concern shown by Haemon and Ismene toward her with her own attitude toward them.

Good, but I caveat all this assessment with large asterisks — both the antiquity fagless works and the fact they are plays and not prose put them beyond the remit of these reviews, and this review should be read less as a review and more as an attempt to imagine what the review would be like if transalted them were possible. If Oedipus the King is the most understandable, Oedipus at Colonus is the least. Oedipus is, frankly, Jesus by this point.

The Theban Plays, by Sophocles, tr. Robert Fagles | Occasional Mumbling

Faglse that conclusion has a flaw, it is that the crimes related no longer seem so horrific as they did to Sophocles, and thus the punishment seems less merited. It is very hard to know how to approach the Theban plays. You are commenting using your Facebook account. He is a pragmatist, and he cares about measurable things. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email.

Antigonenaturally, is the most immature of the plays, even to an unstudied eye.

The Theban Plays, by Sophocles, tr. Robert Fagles

Reading these was a totally different experience for me. In Antigone, the first answer is characterisation. Post was not faglss – check your email addresses!

Striking and memorable, both for the good lines and for the themes gy characters — but too distant to really endear themselves. In practice, all the long speeches and easily-roused tempers feel very distant and literary.


It is only because Laius is journeying in a small party to gain wisdom from an oracle that he meets, attacks, and is killed by Oedipus.

Yes, Oedipus dies, but this seems to improve his standing and power dramatically — and beside, although they speak of his corpse being buried, it seems that in the end Oedipus simply ascends into heaven. Nor does Oedipus even set in motion his own downfall, leaving the moral that human excellence will be punished — no, everything has been set in place long ago.

I found myself, reading these, asking not what Sophocles did wrong, but simply: Oedipus — and Athens — seem to revel in the self-caused nature sntigone their downfall. There are incredibly powerful emotions here, but they are very distant — made so by the language, the structure, the unreadable symbols of a dead culture, and simply by the fact that this is a play, and designed to be spoken and sung and not read, and at a different pace.

What can we appreciate? It is hard to know what to make of it. You are commenting using your WordPress. Modern translations have often shown her as a translatdd fighter and Creon as a tyrant — but it is equally valid to read Creon as the realist and Antigone as a suicide bomber. Slowed down by over-long speeches, but the choral structure ensures amtigone there is never any break, and just enough pause to raise the heartbeat of impatience.

The idea of an Athenian army defeating a Theban one by translatwd gift of Oedipus must have been a very dear dream at the time — Thebes had fought against Athens in the war, and argued strongly ronert its complete, punitive, annihilation in the peace, with only Sparta graciously allowing their sworn enemies to survive.

And of course, Greek literature above all is dependent on its context — unlike most modern fiction, these tragedies were intended to be experienced by people who knew the plot and the characters and the details all in advance. And yet at the same time Creon is also the voice of reason.