All extant Greek tragedies were performed as part of the spring festival of the god Dionysus. The religious dimension appears strongly in the Oresteia trilogy of Aeschylus, where human events manifest the will—the purposes—of the gods: cross-generational violence in the House of Atreus leads to the divinely ordained establishment of the jury in ancient Athens. Seeing the drama is itself a religious exercise, taking the minds and emotions of the spectators away from their mundane concerns. Focusing on his translation of the Agamemnon, Merrill suggests that the religious, even ritual, aspect of the play is conveyed in the music of choruses and lyric dialogues. The formal meters, which he represents in English as closely as possible, enhance the experience. Hearing him recite passages from his translation helps a modern audience to appreciate the exciting musical rhythms of the Greek meters and understand how they reinforce the dramatic impact.
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Translating Ancient Greek Ritual Music-Drama: The Agamemnon of Aeschylus
Florence Gould Theater, Legion of Honor
Dr. Rodney Merrill
This lecture is free to the public; suggestion donation of $5 is welcome