In this outstanding new translation, commissioned by Ireland's renowned Abbey Theatre to commemorate its centenary, Seamus Heaney exposes the darkness and the humanity in Sophocles' masterpiece, and inks it with his own modern and masterly touch.
Sophocles' play, first staged in the fifth century B.C., stands as a timely exploration of the conflict between those who affirm the individual's human rights and those who must protect the state's security. During the War of the Seven Against Thebes, Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, learns that her brothers have killed each other, having been forced onto opposing sides of the battle. When Creon, king of Thebes, grants burial of one but not the "treacherous" other, Antigone defies his order, believing it her duty to bury all of her close kin. Enraged, Creon condemns her to death, and his soldiers wall her up in a tomb. While Creon eventually agrees to Antigone's release, it is too late: She takes her own life, initiating a tragic repetition of events in her family's history.
About the Author
Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. His poems, plays, translations, and essays include Opened Ground, Electric Light, Beowulf, The Spirit Level, District and Circle, and Finders Keepers. Robert Lowell praised Heaney as the "most important Irish poet since Yeats."
Sophocles (est. 497-406 B.C.E.) was a celebrated Greek playwright who won more drama competitions than Aeschylus and Euripides combined. He is known for his advancements in character development and for adding a third character to his plays, relying less on the chorus. Though he wrote over 120 plays, only seven remain today, the most famous of which are Oedipus Rex and Antigone.
“Heaney has created something imperishable and great that is stainless--stainless, because its force as poetry makes it untouchable by the claw of literalism: it lives singly, as an English language poem.” —James Wood, The Guardian on Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf