The Agamemnon of Aeschylus: A Commentary for Students

The Agamemnon of Aeschylus: A Commentary for Students


By (author) David Raeburn, By (author) Oliver Thomas


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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 148mm x 218mm x 30mm | 522g
  • Publication date: 13 January 2012
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199595607
  • ISBN 13: 9780199595600
  • Illustrations note: 1 map
  • Sales rank: 1,610,202

Product description

This commentary discusses Aeschylus' play Agamemnon (458 BC), which is one of the most popular of the surviving ancient Greek tragedies, and is the first to be published in English since 1958. It is designed particularly to help students who are tackling Aeschylus in the original Greek for the first time, and includes a reprint of D. L. Page's Oxford Classical Text of the play. The introduction defines the place of Agamemnon within the Oresteia trilogy as a whole, and the historical context in which the plays were produced. It discusses Aeschylus' handling of the traditional myth and the main ideas which underpin his overall design: such as the development of justice and the nature of human responsibility; and it emphasizes how the power of words, seen as ominous speech-acts which can determine future events, makes a central contribution to the play's dramatic momentum. Separate sections explore Aeschylus' use of theatrical resources, the role of the chorus, and the solo characters. Finally there is an analysis of Aeschylus' distinctive poetic style and use of imagery, and an outline of the transmission of the play from 458 BC to the first printed editions.

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Author information

Oliver Thomas graduated from New College, Oxford in 2004. He completed his doctorate in 2009, and is currently a Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, Oxford.

Review quote

"David Raeburn and Oliver Thomas have made a difficult but rewarding play accessible to students with this the first commentary on Aeschylus' Agamemnon to be published in English since 1958. It offers an impressively wide-ranging introduction to the play that also sets it in the broader context of the Oresteia as a whole. Raeburn and Thomas prove to be dependable guides who offer judicious readings of difficult passages; they are even-handed in presenting variant readings or interpretations, and provide the resources necessary for readers to engage with scholarly debate."--Eric Dugdale, Classical Journal"Anyone who has labored at teaching this great play to students who come to the Agamemnon with no experience in Attic tragedy beyond reading, say, Euripides' Alcestis (perennial favorite of elementary Greek classes for its relative brevity and simplicity) will rejoice at Raeburn and Thomas's book. At the same time, those who have been through the text more times than they can remember will find much here that is new and valuable.... This is an excellent commentary, perfectly aimed at its primary audience, yet obligatory for veteran Aeschyleans."--Victor Bers, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Table of contents

ABBREVIATIONS ; INTRODUCTION ; 1. Agamemnon and the Oresteia ; 2. The historical context of the Oresteia ; 3. Aeschylus and previous versions of the myth ; 4. The ideas in Agamemnon ; 5. Aeschylus use of his medium ; 6. Dramatic technique: the power of words ; 7. The chorus ; 8. The solo characters ; 9. Language, imagery, and theme ; 10. The transmission of Agamemnon ; TEXT ; COMMENTARY ; APPENDIX: SOUND AND RHYTHM ; WORKS CITED ; INDEX