translated by Emily Townsend Vermeule, Elizabeth Wyckoff, William Arrowsmith
"Electra": Very good, though not as good as Sophocles' work. I thought
Electra was a self-pitying, hypocritical whiner, and apparently that's
just what Euripides wanted me to think. Orestes wasn't so bright
either. The intro really clued me in to Electra's sexual frustrations,
envy of Clytemnestra and jealousy/hatred of her mother's lover
Aegisthus. Electra & Orestes' shock at everything still being bad,
even after killing their mother, was well done – it brought the point
home dramatically: No one's in the right, no one's all bad or good, and
violence rarely solves things, even in god-sanctioned "justice." A
"The Phoenecian Women": It was very good, holding
my interest despite my familiarity with the plot. The character
development, again, didn't quite hold up to Sophoclean standards, but
the drama and dialogue were superb. The ending (when Creon takes
charge) was especially gripping. Oedipus played a minor role, but his
lines were pure poetry, with quite a bit of clever use of "light" and
"dark" metaphor (he being blind and all).
"The Bacchae": Before I
read the insightful intro by W. Arrowsmith, I was going to pan the
play, but now I see the meaning and message of the play that I missed
(although I still think character development is lacking). I now see
the conflict between Pentheus and Dionysius is central as person vs.
person, not merely hubris vs. a god. And what I thought was disorder
and sloppiness – Dionysius' transformation from the traditional
Olympian in disguise to something like a force of nature – I now see
is intentional. I did like the way, minutes after the reader's sympathy
has shifted from Dionysius to the torn-apart Pentheus and Agave, the
Chorus also shows its humanity by ceasing its ecstatic reveling at
Pentheus' death and pitying Agave, gently helping her regain her sanity.
A good play, and even though this is my second read, perhaps it bears
even further investigation.