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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Every step of the tragedy is made by humans acting from free will. Two last things to say. In her implacable universalism, her religious fanaticism, she is the most selfish character in the play. Slowed down by over-long speeches, but the choral structure ensures that there is never any break, and just enough pause to raise the heartbeat of impatience. At the same time, it is in some ways the most interesting.

The fates are implacable and merciless. Nor is it a curse of academic value only: I decline to judge.

Modern translations have often shown her as a freedom fighter and Creon as a tyrant — but it is equally valid to read Creon as the realist and Antigone as a suicide bomber. 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.

Her system of values cannot be comprehended by Creon — she is adament in following the law of the gods regardless of the consequences, and wholly callously.

Sophocles can hint at something, with a gesture that bears the full weight of his civilisation… and two and a half thousand years later, the hint remains, but the weight is gone, like a single poem surviving to a point where all the rules of poetry it followed have become unknown. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. So much is lost in that translation — the rhythms and rules of Greek poetry, even if they are followed by the translator, do not carry their import with them.

I found myself, reading these, asking not what Sophocles did wrong, but simply: The entire plot is mysterious to us — the mystical power that will be gained by the corpse of Oedipus once it is buried, and the importance of burying it in one place or another. 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.


To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: Email Address never made public. 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. Are we meant to understand why Oedipus curses his sons?

The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles | : Books

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.

Oedipus the King is probably the least interesting of the three but fagled most readable. What can we appreciate? They are not a trilogy — they were written across a span of decades, with little attempt at continuity, and the earliest written is set the latest in the story. Nor is it really a zntigone.

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

Ttanslated is particularly true of Antigone, who justifies her actions many times over, but never the same way, and by the end seems almost to embrace their nihilistic motivelessness.

If you see what I mean, sort of. This is even more the case at Oedipus at Colonus, where pages at a time are wasted in lamenting the unutterable abomination of incest. How do we value it? But at the same time, the penalty is far greater — in Homer, Oedipus is distraught but he remains king, while orbert Sophocles he rips out his own eyes and has himself sent into exile unto death.

You are commenting using your Twitter account. 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. There are incredibly powerful emotions here, but they are very distant — made so by the language, the structure, trznslated 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.


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.

Oedipus, however, is quite a different man from Jesus, and his powers will be used differently: Notify me of new comments via email. The idea of an Athenian army defeating a Theban one by the gift of Oedipus must have been a very dear dream at the time — Thebes had fought against Athens in the war, and argued strongly for its complete, punitive, annihilation in the peace, with only Sparta graciously allowing their sworn enemies to survive.

I do use that word advisedly — but I use it because, despite its pagan credentials, this is a antigoje with very Christian parallels. As Oedipus dies in the play, so faglles does the Athens of the audience — as it was being written when Sophocles, like Oedipus, could see his own death approachingthe city was engaged in the final existential struggle against Sparta faglew which the Athenians, with Oedipal hubris, refused to accept the surrender of Sparta even at the verge of their own destructionand by the time the audience could see the play performed, Athens had surrendered, its walls, fleet, port and empire destroyed, and was entirely dependant on the continued mercy of the Spartans.

This allows a great deal of foreshadowing of events outside of the plays — and allows other things to be glossed over. And they transltaed not prose, but plays, and I have not seen them staged, and something is lost in that. It is very hard to know how to approach the Theban plays.

The Three Theban Plays

I found it the hardest to read by far. I think that Antigone is meant to be seen as irrational; maybe too Oedipus, and through him the war, is meant to be seen a inexplicable. Hers is a familiar madness — the madness of religious fundamentalism. Sophocles brings the ancient myths into his own age with a terrible acuity. Contrast the passion and concern shown ribert Haemon and Ismene toward her with her own attitude toward them.