Bakkhai

Bakkhai

Bakkhai

Bakkhai

Synopsis

Regarded by many as Euripides' masterpiece, Bakkhai is a powerful examination of religious ecstasy and the resistance to it. A call for moderation, it rejects the temptation of pure reason as well as pure sensuality, and is a staple of Greek tragedy, representing in structure and thematics an exemplary model of the classic tragic elements. Disguised as a young holy man, the god Bacchus arrives in Greece from Asia proclaiming his godhood and preaching his orgiastic religion. He expects to be embraced in Thebes, but the Theban king, Pentheus, forbids his people to worship him and tries to have him arrested. Enraged, Bacchus drives Pentheus mad and leads him to the mountains, where Pentheus' own mother, Agave, and the women of Thebes tear him to pieces in a Bacchic frenzy. Gibbons, a prize-winning poet, and Segal, a renowned classicist, offer a skilled new translation of this central text of Greek tragedy.

Excerpt

“The Greek Tragedy in New Translations is based on the conviction that poets like Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides can only be properly rendered by translators who are themselves poets. Scholars may, it is true, produce useful and perceptive versions. But our most urgent present need is for a re-creation of these plays — as though they had been written, freshly and greatly, by masters fully at home in the English of our own times.”

With these words, the late William Arrowsmith announced the purpose of this series, and we intend to honor that purpose. As was true of most of the volumes that began to appear in the 1970s — first under Arrowsmith's editorship, later in association with Herbert Golder — those for which we bear editorial responsibility are products of close collaboration between poets and scholars. We believe (as Arrowsmith did) that the skills of both are required for the difficult and delicate task of transplanting these magnificent specimens of another culture into the soil of our own place and time, to do justice both to their deep differences from our patterns of thought and expression and to their palpable closeness to our most intimate concerns. Above all, we are eager to offer contemporary readers dramatic poems that convey as vividly and directly as possible the splendor of language, the complexity of image and idea, and the intensity of emotion of the originals. This entails, among much else, the recognition that the tragedies were meant for performance — as scripts for actors — to be sung and danced as well as spoken. It demands writing of inventiveness, clarity, musicality, and dramatic power. By such standards we ask that these translations be judged.

This series is also distinguished by its recognition of the need of nonspecialist readers for a critical introduction informed by the best recent scholarship, but written clearly and without condescension.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.