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Antigone defending her integrity and ideals to the death, Oedipus questing for his identity and achieving immortality - these heroic figures have moved playgoers and readers since the fifth century BC.
Towering over the rest of Greek tragedy, these three plays are among the most enduring and timeless dramas ever written. Robert Fagles' translation conveys all of Sophocles' lucidity and power: the cut and thrust of his dialogue, his ironic edge, the surge and majesty of his choruses and, above all, the agonies and triumphs of his characters.
"From the award-winning translator of The Iliad and The Odyssey
comes a brilliant new translation of Virgil's great epic"
Gripping listeners and readers for more than 2,700 years, The Iliad is the story of the Trojan War and the rage of Achilles. Combining the skills of a poet and scholar, Robert Fagles brings the energy of contemporary language to this enduring heroic epic. If The Iliad is the world's greatest war story, then The Odyssey is literature's greatest evocation of every man's journey through life. Here again, Fagles has performed the translator's task magnificently, giving us an Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery. Each volume contains a superb introduction with textual and critical commentary by renowned classicist Bernard Knox.
The Iliad is the first and the greatest literary achievement of Greek civilization - an epic poem without rival in the literature of the world, and the cornerstone of Western culture.The story of the Iliad centres on the critical events in the last year of the Trojan War, which lead to Achilleus' killing of Hektor and determine the fate of Troy. But Homer's theme is not simply war or heroism. With compassion and humanity, he presents a universal and tragic view of the world, of human life lived under the shadow of suffering and death, set against a vast and largely unpitying divine background. The Iliad is the first of the great tragedies.
Ovid's epic poem whose theme of change has resonated throughout the ages is one of the most important texts of Western imagination, an inspiration from Dante's times to the present day, when writers such as Salman Rushdie and Italo Calvino have found a living source in Ovid's work. Charles Martin combines a close fidelity to Ovid's text with verse that catches the speed and liveliness of the original. Martin's Metamorphoses will be the translation of choice for contemporary readers in English. This volume also includes endnotes and a glossary of people, places, and personifications."
"The literature of the classical world that has survived is a pitiful remnant of what once existed...". So begins Bernard Knox's preface to an anthology that introduces the modern reader to the enormous breadth and rich variety of that "pitiful remnant" - the foundation of Western literature and culture, the inspiration for writers from Dante to Shakespeare to T. S. Eliot. However much - or little - of it we may have read, classical literature has shaped our world and how we perceive it. Yet for most of us classical writing is little more than a narrow circle of legendary figures. The names of Homer, Aeschylus, Plato, Virgil, and Saint Augustine are familiar, but behind their work lies a vast fellowship of writers with a common mythological and artistic heritage. The Norton Book of Classical Literature thus includes not only the "greats" but also significant though lesser known figures and traditions: archaic lyric poets, Alexandrian Greeks, and Roman satirists, for example. Also recovered for us are the breathtaking variety of forms that literature took - epic, lyric, ode, dithyramb, tragedy, comedy, history, dialogue, idyll, epigram, satire, to name a few. The translations selected for this collection, from classic nineteenth-century versions to as yet unpublished manuscripts, reflect the diversity of the works themselves and bring them to us with eloquence and clarity. In his brilliant introduction - an account of the development of classical literature from the origins of the Greek language and Homer to the fall of Rome and Saint Augustine - Knox distills for the general reader a complex literary tradition and allows even those with a thorough knowledge of classical writing to seethat tradition anew. Informative notes throughout the book allow works - some long forgotten, ignored, or misinterpretedto emerge, as vital and compelling today as they were so many centuries ago. From the lyrical precision of Archilochus and Sappho to the epic sweep of Apollonius and Virgil; from the storytelling genius of Herodotus and Ovid to the philosophical ruminations of Marcus Aurelius; from the sobering histories of Thucydides and Tacitus to the satires of Petronius and Juvenal; from tantalizing papyrus fragments only recently unearthed to the complete Antigone, Sophocles' tragic masterpiece - The Norton Book of Classical Literature revives what for many of us has become a lost tradition.
The first two chapters of this book isolate and describe the
literary phenomenon of the Sophoclean tragic hero. In all but one
of the extant Sophoclean dramas, a heroic figure who is compounded
of the same literary elements faced a situation which is
essentially the same. The demonstration of this recurrent pattern
is made not through character-analysis, but through a close
examination of the language employed by both the hero and those
with whom he contends. The two chapters attempt to present what
might, with a slight exaggeration, be called the "formula" of
Linked by the events of Bernard Knox's remarkable life, the twenty-five chapters of "Essays Ancient and Modern" cover subjects ranging from Hesiod, Homer, and Thucydides to Auden, Forster, and the Spanish Civil War. With a masterful eye for the telling detail, Knox continually reminds us that we share the present with antiquity's living past. A soldier in Italy finds a battered book in the rubble of a bombed-out firehouse-- and opens it to read Virgil's denunciation of war. An illiterate Greek bard composes a garbled Homeric song to celebrate the recent heroism of local partisans. A traveler heading north from modern Athens must choose between the Sacred Way-- or the NATO Road.
Whether the subject is the role of women in ancient Athens or the novelists of modern Italy, the wit and erudition of Bernard Knox never fail to instruct and delight. Now in paperback, "Essays Ancient and Modern" takes it place alongside the distinguished essays of Knox's "Word and Action," a book whose title brings together, in the words of Anthony Hecht, "the double strand of his admirable career."
"Prospective readers puzzled by the somewhat enigmatic title Backing into the Future may well come to the conclusion that it is a reference to the amusing film produced in 1985, called Back to the Future. But in fact the source of the title is much older. The phrase is based on a number of expressions found in ancient Greek literary texts: the chorus's description of its bewilderment in Sophocles's Oedipus the King, for example -- 'not seeing what is here nor what is behind' -- or the characterization of an older man in Homer's Odyssey as 'the one who sees what is in front and what is behind.' The natural reaction of the modern reader is to understand the first of these expressions as 'not seeing the present nor the past,' and the second as 'who sees the future and the past.' But the Greek word opiso, which means literally 'behind' or 'back,' refers not to the past but to the future. The early Greek imagination envisaged the past and the present as in front of us - we can see them. The future, invisible, is behind us. Only a few very wise men can see what is behind them; some of these men, like the blind prophet Tiresias, have been given this privilege by the gods. The rest of us, though we have our eyes, are walking blind, backwards into the future." --from the Foreword
"Martin's complete text is clearly something to look forward to with high expectations."—Bernard Knox, New York Review of Books
Should the ancient Greeks-"the oldest dead white European males"-be kept alive in our collective memory? Why study them at all if, by passing their destructive ideas to the Romans and eventually to the rest of Europe, they may ultimately be responsible for much of what's wrong with American society? In this "supremely lucid and elegant" book (The New Yorker), Bernard Knox poses and answers such fundamental questions, helping us to remember the astonishing originality of the ancient Greeks and all that we have learned-and continue to learn-from them.
This series provides individual textbooks on early Greek poetry, on Greek drama, on philosophy, history and oratory, and on the literature of the Hellenistic period and of the Empire. Each part has its own appendix of authors and works, a list of works cited, and an index. This volume studies the revolutionary movement represented by the more creative of the Hellenistic poets and finally the very rich range of authors surviving from the imperial period, with rhetoric and the novel contributing a distinctive flavour to the culture of the time. Appropriately enough, the volume closes with a survey of books and readers in the ancient world, which draws attention to the bookish nature of Greek literature from the Hellenistic period onwards and points forward to its survival into the Middle Ages.
In this widely praised book, an eminent classicist examines Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus in the context of fifth-century B.C. Athens. In attempting to discover what the play meant to Sophocles' contemporaries-and in particular in disentangling Sophocles' ideas from Freud's psychoanalytical interpretations-Bernard Knox casts fresh light on its timeless and universal nature. For this edition, Knox has provided a new preface and a list of suggested readings. "What a joy it is to welcome this book back in print. As perennial as Sophocles' great play itself, Knox's work has never gone out of date, and never will."-Robert Fagles Reviews of the earlier editions: "A superb analysis, demonstrating that when classical study is aware of Freud and the techniques of modern literary criticism, it can be as exciting nowadays as it must have been during the Renaissance."-New Yorker "A superb critical and textual investigation."-New York Times "One of the major contributions to Sophoclean and to Greek studies in recent years."-Virginia Quarterly Review "A magnificent contribution ... which is really required reading."-Cedric Whitman, American Journal of Philology "A brilliant piece of work combining the best of classical scholarship with the best of modern literary criticism."-John E. Rexine, Hellenic World
The period from the eighth to the fifth centuries B.C. was one of extraordinary creativity in the Greek-speaking world. Poetry was a public and popular medium, and its production was closely related to developments in contemporary society. At the time when the city states were acquiring their distinctive institutions epic found the greatest of all its exponents in Homer, and lyric poetry for both solo and choral performance became a genre which attracted poets of the first rank, writers of the quality of Sappho, Alcaeus and Pindar, whose influence on later literature was to be profound. This volume covers the epic tradition, the didactic poems of Hesiod and his imitators, and the wide-ranging work of the iambic, elegiac and lyric poets of what is loosely called the archaic age. The contributors make use of recent papyrus finds (particularly in the case of Archilochus and Stesichorus) to fill out the picture of a cosmopolitan and highly sophisticated literary culture which had not yet found its intellectual centre in Athens.
This series provides individual textbooks on early Greek poetry, on Greek drama, on philosophy, history and oratory, and on the literature of the Hellenistic period and of the Empire. A chapter on books and readers in the Greek world concludes Part IV. Each part has its own appendix of authors and works, a list of works cited, and an index.
This volume ranges in time over a very long period and covers the Greeks' most original contributions to intellectual history. It begins and ends with philosophy, but it also includes major sections on historiography and oratory. Although each of these areas had functions which in the modern world would not be considered 'literary', the ancients made a less sharp distinction between intellectual and artistic production, and the authors included in this volume are some of Europe's most powerful stylists: Plato, Herodotus, Thucydides and Demosthenses.
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