Aeschylus: Agamemnon. Hall, Edith (9781800856288). Hardback.

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The first revenge drama, the first great female role, the first tragedy set on the cusp between public space and private household, the first part of the only surviving tragic trilogy—the foundational status of Aeschylus’ monumental Agamemnon cannot be over-estimated. Agamemnon’s entry on a chariot, arrogant passage over purple carpets, death in the bath and display as a corpse, along with the inspired prophetess, his war booty Cassandra, make this tragedy visually electrifying; the poetry, especially in Clytemnestra’s orations and the choral odes, in magniloquence and vivid imagery surpasses anything in classical literature. This new edition, with Greek text, critical introduction, accessible translation and detailed commentary, is the first on this play authored by a woman;  along with consistent support in construing the ancient Greek and appreciating the aural power of Aeschylus’ language and rhythms, it draws on cutting-edge scholarship to provide unprecedented illumination of sociological and performative aspects of his play: the chorus’ struggle to maintain representation for ordinary Argives, the different responses of Clytemnestra and Cassandra to the inequities imposed on them by patriarchy, the sensory experience of poetry imbued with prompts to taste, smell, touch and hearing as well as vision, the challenges and opportunities presented by the text to directors and actors both ancient and modern, and the thrilling control of the tragic medium by its undisputed founding father.

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