Dan Sandman

35: Antigone by Sophocles

In Books, Fiction, Plays on 28/08/2015 at 12:00 pm

Antigone by SophoclesThis Cambridge edition of Sophocles’ play is easy to follow. The new translation is in clear English and sticks to the original plot. Next to the text itself, on adjacent pages, are notes to help engage readers with the play. These notes fulfill several functions, providing explanation and analysis, as well as stimulating thought and discussion.

For the laymen, such notes are an excellent idea. Two and a half thousand years is an extremely long time, and the book’s detailed commentary is designed to help close the cultural time gap. Instead of having to look up Bacchus in a classics dictionary, his story is summarized on the opposite page (lines 1075-1114). Time and time again, I found myself enjoying these notes, which have obviously been written directly with students in mind.

As I prepare for postgraduate study, I am looking forward to studying this timeless Greek drama. From my initial research, I am beginning to understand more about classical literature. This understanding has helped me to appreciate my favourite English poets and dramatists in a more informed way. Just as Shakespeare frequently referenced Greek gods and characters within in his plays, the Romantics also looked back to this ‘golden age’ for inspiration. In particular, Sophocles is credited by Aristotle for inventing the ‘tragic hero’ form. This device, whereby a character such as Antigone or Creon is doomed by a ‘tragic flaw’, has been used by playwrights ever since.

Arguably.

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