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New Translations of Sophocles

On Sale August 7, 2012


Aias

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Sophocles - Aias med.jpgAmong the most celebrated plays of ancient Athens, Aias is one of seven surviving dramas by the great Greek playwright, Sophocles, now available from Harper Perennial in a vivid and dynamic new translation by award-winning poet James Scully. Still powerful and remarkably timely thousands of years after its creation, Aias is the moving story of a soldier returning home victorious from the Trojan War, only to discover he has lost his life’s purpose. This is Sophocles, vibrant and alive, for a new generation.

A suspenseful and necessary new translation of Sophocles' provocative drama that demystifies the death of a warrior and challenges the civic value of Greece's heroic legacy

Achilles is dead. Aias, Greece's next greatest warrior, should inherit his armor, but Agamemnon and Menelaos award it to Odysseus. Enraged, Aias sets out to kill them all, but Athena deludes him into slaughtering the war spoil of the Greek army: defenseless sheep, goats, oxen, and herdsmen. When Aias realizes what he has done, his shame is irremediable. His only recourse is one final, desperate act that will leave all who depended on him to fend for themselves. In place of a heroic ethos in which everyone relies on one towering individual, the survivors embrace a social ethos based on the interdependence of all—including, here, a speechless child.

In this masterful translation, James Scully puts readers and actors in touch with the performative dynamism of the drama, which resonates with issues crucial to our own time. This rendering enables the emotions and arguments of Sophocles' era to register on the pulse of a contemporary audience.

 


Philoketes

A New Translation

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Sophocles - Aias med.jpgAmong the most celebrated plays of ancient Athens, Philoketes is one of seven surviving dramas by the great Greek playwright, Sophocles, now available from Harper Perennial in a vivid and dynamic new translation by award-winning poet James Scully. A powerful tale born out of the blood and chaos of the Trojan War, Philoketes tells the story of a wounded soldier exiled by Odysseus, and the devastating consequences of the abandoned warrior’s dangerously conflicted emotions when his former commander realizes Troy will not fall without Philoktetes and attempts to recruit him once more. This is Sophocles, vibrant and alive, for a new generation.

One of the most celebrated plays of ancient Athens in a vivid and dynamic new translation by award-winning poet James Scully

Fate, free will, and the sacredness of the social bond are all challenged and reassessed in this tale torn from the midst of the Trojan War.

The soldier Philoktetes was abandoned with a festering, god-inflicted foot wound on the desolate island of Lemnos by the Greeks under Odysseus, who could no longer stand the stench or the soldier's screams of pain. Now, ten years later, the Greeks realize they will never take Troy without Philoktetes and the bow given to him by Herakles. But Philoktetes refuses to rejoin the Greek army, vowing to kill his enemy Odysseus instead—so Neoptolemos, son of the slain hero Achilles, is dispatched to trick Philoktetes into returning. Philoktetes and Neoptolemos, however, are constantly at sea, their minds shifting and re-shifting amid mixed feelings, deceptions, suspicions, and qualms as they struggle with themselves and their strangely evolving relationship.

James Scully's remarkable translation of Sophocles' classic Philoktetes achieves an accurate yet accessibly idiomatic rendering of the Greek original, suited for reading, teaching, or performing. This is Sophocles for a new generation, certain to strike a powerful chord with contemporary audiences everywhere.