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The electra

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The electra.pdf | Language: ENGLISH

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This book was digitized and reprinted from the collections of the University of California Libraries. It was produced from digital images created through the libraries’ mass digitization efforts. The digital images were cleaned and prepared for printing through automated processes. Despite the cleaning process, occasional flaws may still be present that were part of the original work itself, or introduced during digitization. This book and hundreds of thousands of others can be found online in the HathiTrust Digital Library at

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Book details

  • PDF | 112 pages
  • Euripides.(Author)
  • University of California Libraries (January 1, 1907)
  • English
  • 3
  • Arts & Photography

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Review Text

  • By Lawrance Bernabo on December 21, 2002

    The murder of Clytemnestra by her son Orestes is unique in Greek mythology because we have versions of the tale staged by all three of the Greek tragic poets. One of the things that makes this remarkable, especially given how few of the ancient plays have survived to the present day (think of what it would be like if Shakespeare's work was reduced to about five plays), is that after Aeschylus wrote his version for "Cheophoroe," the central member of the "Orestia" triptych, any one would want to give a different telling of the tale. I think this interpretation is supported by two key points: first, that both Sophocles and Euripides titled their plays "Electra," focusing on the daughter/sister of the two main characters, and, second, that both of these other versions avoid having the pivotal scene between Clytemnestra and Orestes that is the dramatic highpoint of the Aeschylus play.The Euripides version of "Electra" is certainly representative of his dramatic work overall in that it focuses more on the psychology and emotions of the characters rather than the philosophical or spiritual implications. The murder of Clytemnestra by her son is no longer another sordid chapter in the curse on the house of Atreus and the appearance of the Dioscuri as a deus ex machina stands in stark contrast to the rest of the "Orestia." Still, Euripides ends the play on themes of sorrow as both Orestes and Electra can only speak of their remorse over what has happened and say their pathetical farewells to one another. Having finally found each other after years of separation, they are again forced apart by fate. As the chorus says at the end: "The moral who can fare well, not broken by trouble met on the road, leads a most blessed life."There are those who characterize this "Electra" as being more of a melodrama than a traditional tragedy, and that is certainly a valid interpretation. The Euripides version is clearly the weakest of the three, but that is almost by default. Aeschylus is creating the greatest trilogy in Greek history and Sophocles focuses on an Electra who is debating whether or not the responsibility for avenging the death of her father means that that the obligation to slay Clytemnestra falls to her. For Euripides the key twist is that when Electra reached maturity Aegisthus, the lover of Clytemnestra, feared that the young girl would marry some powerful prince and seek vengeance for the murder of Agamemnon. Aegisthus seeks to solve this problem by marrying Electra off to a peasant, who knows he is unworthy of the honor and has never consummated the marriage.Some critics have made light of Clytemnestra's refusal to condone the execution of her daughter given the fact she murdered her husband. But given that the prime reason for Agamemnon's murder was his sanctioning the sacrifice of their oldest daughter Iphigenia, the queen's decision seems consistent to me. This also fits with the idea that Electra is indeed the central character of the drama, even when Orestes arrives upon the scene. Euripides is clearly interested in the story of a royal princess who effectively loses her entire family and becomes a frustrated, embittered woman. She desires not merely justice, but rather a cruel vengeance (which, significantly, repudiates the lesson of the "Orestia"). There is a sense in which Clytemnestra deserves to die in this play, not because of the murder of Agamemnon, but because of her callous treatment of her surviving daughter. Yet, even this does not make Electra much of a sympathetic figure since she is consumed by the idea of her mother being murdered. When this is achieved, there is nothing left to the character and she is a hollow shell."Electra" is not going to be one of the first Euripides plays you would read, and I have found that most times when it is considered it is within the context of comparing it to the parallel works by Aeschylus and Sophocles. However, an analog with Euripides' "Medea" would also be informative for students. As always, the key consideration would be which of the various Greek tragedies you had access to in your classroom.

  • By LF on April 1, 2014

    I enjoy reading the classics. When it comes to reading translations, such as the ancient Greek classics, I have learned to trust Penguin because their translators keep the story moving in a very accessible way. They are the most readable translations, allowing you to enjoy the story rather than consider it a chore to get through.

  • By elsie b on November 5, 2017

    needed for school. shipped well and in good condition!

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