The University of Wisconsin Press
Drama / Classics / Literature & Criticism
Wisconsin Studies in Classics
Patricia A. Rosenmeyer, Laura McClure, and Mark Stansbury-O’Donnell, Series Editors
“A great work of world literature has at last become a great poem in English. Mulroy’s translation is far superior to other available English verse translations.”
—Robert J. Rabel, editor of Approaches to Homer, Ancient and Modern
Oedipus Rex is the greatest of the Greek tragedies, a profound meditation on the human condition. The story of the mythological king, who is doomed to kill his father and marry his mother, has resonated in world culture for almost 2,500 years. But Sophocles’ drama as originally performed was much more than a great story—it was a superb poetic script and exciting theatrical experience. The actors spoke in pulsing rhythms with hypnotic forward momentum, making it hard for audiences to look away. Interspersed among the verbal rants and duels were energetic songs performed by the chorus.
David Mulroy’s brilliant verse translation of Oedipus Rex recaptures the aesthetic power of Sophocles’ masterpiece while also achieving a highly accurate translation in clear, contemporary English. Speeches are rendered with the same kind of regular iambic rhythm that gave the Sophoclean originals their drive. The choral parts are translated as fluid rhymed songs. Mulroy also supplies an introduction, notes, and appendixes to provide helpful context for general readers and students.
David Mulroy is professor of classics at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He has translated The Complete Poetry of Catullus, also published by the University of Wisconsin Press. Sophocles (ca. 497/6–407/6 BCE) was the most acclaimed dramatist of his era, winning more than twenty festival competitions in ancient Athens. He is believed to have written 123 plays, but only seven have survived in a complete form.
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