A thrilling, accessible translation of Sophocles' Oedipus plays.
While many in today's self-determined audience might have trouble swallowing the bitter pill of fate Sophocles serves up, one need only look to the nearest newsstand to find contemporary examples of the same familial tragedies he dramatized so powerfully nearly two-and-a-half millennia ago. In Bagg's capable hands, these shocking tales of lurid but unwitting acts pack the emotional force that rocked Sophoclean Athens. Bagg's supple translation, framed by illuminating commentary and notes co-authored by Mary Bagg, evokes deep sympathy for Oedipus, tragedy's most poignantly "god-crushed man," as well as members of his doomed household. Throughout, Bagg's language is spare yet unstilted, modernized but not so contemporary as to be colloquial; the stateliness of Sophocles' poetry sings out as Bagg captures the subtle nuances of acts both verbal and physical that distinguish these classic texts. Bagg's commentary reminds us that, for Aristotle, Oedipus epitomized tragedy, and one of the devices Sophocles so masterfully employed was irony. From Oedipus' early lament-"Yet, sick as you are, / not one of you suffers a sickness like mine" (Oedipus the King)-to Haimon's final warning to his father-"Then she will die, and dead, kill someone else" (Antigone)-Bagg reflects the full spectrum of Sophocles' dramatic irony. Through word and deed, these characters succumb to their fates with a painful wallop, and Bagg's winning collection of all three works allows readers to consider the entire Oedipal saga from a number of revealing angles.
The only tragedy greater than those presented here with such rigorous beauty would be missing this collection.