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About the book
  • Published: 6 February 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448155958
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 128

Bacchae




A bold new translation of this shockingly modern classic work by Forward Prize-winning poet, Robin Robertson

This stunning translation, by the acclaimed poet Robin Robertson (Forward Prize, Man Booker shortlist 2018), has reinvigorated Euripides' devastating take of a god's revenge for contemporary readers, bringing the ancient verse to fervid, brutal life.

Dionysus, god of wine and ecstasy, has come to Thebes, and the women are streaming out of the city to worship him on the mountain, drinking and dancing in wild frenzy. The king, Pentheus, denouces this so-called 'god' as a charlatan. But no mortal can deny a god and no man can ever stand against Dionysus.

'The dialogue is taut, volcanic and often exquisitely beautiful... Euripides deserves to have his exquisite verse transformed into modern speech, and in Robertson I believe he has found a poet who can do that.' Edith Hall, Literary Review

  • Pub date: 6 February 2014
  • ISBN: 9781448155958
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 128

About the Author

Euripides Euripides

Euripides is thought to have lived between 485 and 406 BC. He is considered to be one of the three great dramatists of Ancient Greece, alongside Aeschylus and Sophocles. He is particularly admired by modern audiences and readers for his characterization and astute and balanced depiction of human behaviour. Medea is his most famous work.

Date: 2013-08-06
Euripides is thought to have lived between 485 and 406 BC. He is considered to be one of the three great dramatists of Ancient Greece, alongside Aeschylus and Sophocles. He is particularly admired by modern audiences and readers for his characterization and astute and balanced depiction of human behaviour. Medea is his most famous work.

Robin Robertson is from the north-east coast of Scotland. He is the author of three collections of poetry: A Painted Field (1997), winner of the 1997 Forward Poetry Prize (Best First Collection), the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Prize and the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award; Slow Air (2002); and Swithering (2006). He is also the editor of Mortification: Writers' Stories of their Public Shame (2003). In 2004, he was named by the Poetry Book Society as one of the 'Next Generation' poets, and received the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Robin Robertson's third poetry collection, Swithering (2006), was shortlisted for the 2005 T. S. Eliot Prize and won the 2006 Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year). In 2013 Robin Robertson was awarded the Petrarca-Preis. He lives and works in London.

Euripides, the youngest of the three great Athenian playwrights, was born around 485 BC of a family of good standing. He first competed in the dramatic festivals in 455 BC, coming only third; his record of success in the tragic competitions is lower than that of either Aeschylus or Sophocles. There is a tradition that he was unpopular, even a recluse; we are told that he composed poetry in a cave by the sea, near Salamis. What is clear from contemporary evidence, however, is that audiences were fascinated by his innovative and often disturbing dramas. His work was controversial already in his lifetime, and he himself was regarded as a 'clever' poet, associated with philosophers and other intellectuals.

Towards the end of his life he went to live at the court of Archelaus, king of Macedon. It was during his time there that he wrote what many consider his greates work, the Bacchae. When news of his death reached Athens in early 406 BC, Sophocles appeared publicly in mourning for him. Euripides is thought to have written about ninety-two plays, of which seventeen tragedies and one satyr-play known to be his survive; the other play which is attributed to him, the Rhesus, may in fact be by a later hand.

Also by Euripides Euripides

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Praise for Bacchae

“‘Euripides’s Bacchae is one of the most powerful poems in Greek literature...one of the hardest texts in Western literature to translate. The astute Scottish poet Robin Robertson has already shown with his Medea, published in 2008, that he can translate Euripides into chiselled English poetry ripe for theatrical delivery. Bacchae is even better. In the choral odes, sung by the titular Bacchants, he has radiantly evoked the ritual solemnity, supported by assonance and percussive drive, that makes these sung poems so otherworldly. The dialogue is taut, volcanic and often exquisitely beautiful... Euripides deserves to have his exquisite verse transformed into modern speech, and in Robertson I believe he has found a poet who can do that. This translation cries out for realisation by multiple voices on radio or in live theatre”

Edith Hall, Literary Review

“Robin Robertson is the great Euripides translator of our time. The clarity and power of his Medea is unmatched, and his Bacchae is just as direct, unhindered and fluid, perfect for revealing such madness.”

David Vann

“I can recommend the clarity of the translation...Robertson maintains a robust and exuberant style. It’s time to brush up on our Greek theatre and here’s a stunning chance”

Grace Cavalieri, Washington Independent Review of Books

“It's 2,400 years old, yet it is so compelling and absolutely modern”

Deborah Warner

“I portray men as they should be, but Euripides portrays them as they are”

Sophocles, Aristotle's 'Poetics'


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