Andromache, Hecuba, Trojan Women by Euripides (Review)

Andromache, Hecuba, Trojan Women by Euripides

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About the author

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Euripides (Ancient Greek: Εὐριπίδης) (ca. 480 BC–406 BC) was the last of the three great tragedians of classical Athens (the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles). Ancient scholars thought that Euripides had written ninety-five plays, although four of those were probably written by Critias. Eighteen of Euripides’ plays have survived complete. It is now widely believed that what was thought to be a nineteenth, Rhesus, was probably not by Euripides. Fragments, some substantial, of most of the other plays also survive. More of his plays have survived than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles together, partly because of the chance preservation of a manuscript that was probably part of a complete collection of his works in alphabetical order.

Blurb

Diane Arnson Svarlien’s translation of Euripides’ Andromache, Hecuba, and Trojan Women exhibits the same scholarly and poetic standards that have won praise for her Alcestis, Medea, Hippolytus. Ruth Scodel’s Introduction examines the cultural and political context in which Euripides wrote, and provides analysis of the themes, structure, and characters of the plays included. Her notes offer expert guidance to readers encountering these works for the first time.

Review

I got this book because Trojan Women is a set text that I am studying for my course but I must admit that I enjoyed reading Trojan Women so much I read the whole book.

I found the introduction and notes by Ruth Scodel hugely informative and really helpful with my research but also not too in depth and easy to read which was wonderful because sometimes introductions can be a bit of bore I find.

Andromache

I loved this play and my heart bled for poor Andromache, she really has not had the best of lives having already suffered losing her child and husband in Troy she now suffers in her new home as Neoptolemus’ concubine and risks losing everything including her life again.

Andromache is a wonderful character who tries to do everything she can to save her own life and her child’s and works out a plan that if it works should keep them both safe.

Hermione is a spoilt brat who is used to getting her own way and will do anything to get it and her father will let her get her own way. I found her character rather annoying but you could tell that was what Euripides was after.

My favourite character was Peleus, he was a true gentleman who though mature in years was not frightened to stand up for the weak and vulnerable and send Menelaus scurrying off with his tail between his legs.

I loved this play and would love to see it on stage one day.

Hecuba

Wow! What a character Hecuba is in this play. After everything she has been through with the fall of Troy and the knowledge that her future is bleak she still has strength.

Hecuba has lost her kingdom, her husband, most of her children but she believes her one son and some Trojan treasure is safe with a family friend Polymestor. However, she discovers that her beloved son Polydorus is no longer safe and Hecuba seeks revenge.

Agamemnon in this play seems very different to the Agamemnon that I am used to. He listens to Hecuba’s plea and lets her carry out her plan. He shows pity and in my opinion almost reverence for the fallen queen.

I loved this play because it showed the true power of a woman who seeks revenge.

Trojan Women

This play was heart breaking, you can’t help but feel sorry for the women of Troy and see the unfairness of war on those who are left behind.

Hecuba in this play disappointed me slightly because when she was mourning what she had lost the main thing she kept focusing on was her kingdom and the fact she was no longer queen. Her lost family always seemed to be an after thought.

Cassandra was perfect in my opinion and a hard act for any actress to perform. Poor Cassandra who has been dealt such a hard blow and is now mad.

Andromache, the perfect wife who is now left with nothing who you can’t help but pity. A stark contrast to Helen that you can’t help but hate.

Helen, the woman who brings destruction wherever she goes but gets away with it because of her beauty. Menelaus was basically a lamb to slaughter where Helen was concerned. As much as the women of Troy hated her and Hecuba made the case pretty clear that Helen should be punished, you just know that Menelaus will buckle and let Helen get away with her deeds.

All in all I loved these plays and thought the translation by Diane Arnson Svarlien was really well done, the added stage directions were also excellent. I give this book a big 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Trojan Women by Seneca (Review)

Trojan Women by Seneca (Translated by Frederick Ahl)

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About the author

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Lucius Annaeus Seneca (often known simply as Seneca) (ca. 4 BC – 65 AD) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero. While he was later forced to commit suicide for alleged complicity in the Pisonian conspiracy to assassinate Nero, the last of the Julio-Claudian emperors, he may have been innocent.

Blurb

This free and eloquent translation skilfully reproduces the imagery, power, and frequent irony and sarcasm of Seneca’s language.

Review

I recently read this play because it is required reading for my course, however before this my course had made me read Euripides’ Trojan Women and I find that personally I much prefer Euripides’ interpretation.

The play is about the aftermath of the war of Troy and is about the fate of the survivors of Troy which is sadly the women of Troy who no longer have husbands, fathers or brothers. They are on their own and their fates are left in the hands of the Greeks and those fates will not be good. There are also two tragedies left in the play for the audience to see.

I did enjoy Seneca’s interpretation but I did find it very long winded and some of the speeches just seemed to drag for me and because of this I found it hard to visualise the play on the stage. I also found the language quite stilted but this could be because of the translation by Frederick Ahl.

The other issue I did not like was I found the play overly graphic in places and found it hard to read. I just found the detail of the gore rather overboard but I suppose this is what the Romans enjoyed on stage.

I liked the play and must admit that if I had not read Euripides’ version first I might have enjoyed it more but Euripides’ version is faster paced and I could not put it down but Seneca’s version I was quite happy to have a break from.

I also really enjoyed the introduction by Frederick Ahl and found it very informative but did find it rather amusing to see differences between Ahl’s information and information from what I have discovered in my research.

Overall I found this play ok but it just lacked the wow factor for me, maybe I prefer the Greek playwrights to the Roman playwrights but it was a good read and I am glad I have discovered the works of Seneca and hope to read more. I give this play and translation 3 out of 5 Dragons.

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A P. G. Wodehouse Pick-Me-Up! by P. G. Wodehouse (Review)

A P. G. Wodehouse Pick-Me-Up! Goodbye to All Cats by P. G. Wodehouse

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About the author

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Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse wrote more than ninety novels and some three hundred short stories over 73 years. He is widely recognised as the greatest 20th- century writer of humour in the English Language. In 1936 he awarded the Mark Twain Prize for ‘having made an outstanding and lasting contribution to the happiness of the world’. He was made a Doctor of Letters by Oxford University in 1939 and in 1975, aged 93, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. He died shortly afterwards, on St Valentine’s Day.

Blurb

A Wodehouse pick-me-up that’ll lift your spirits, whatever your mood.

Review

I picked up this book when I was last in Bath. I picked it up at the counter. I must admit a lot of bookshops tend to sell me an extra book at the counter.

This is a very quick read but a very fun read that contains three short stories.

Goodbye to All Cats

This story is the first in the book and I must admit my favourite and made me laugh out loud a lot! This story is all about Freddie’s experience with cats that made him dislike all cats in general for the foreseeable future.

The story is hilarious but at the same time I did feel sorry for Freddie who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ukridge’s Dog College

I was surprised by this story as I had just presumed all the stories would be cat related. I was so pleased to see this assumption was wrong because I love dog stories. This story focuses on the eccentric Ukridge, who will do anything to make a quick fortune that doesn’t involve hard work. A fantastic little read for dog lovers.

Ukridge’s Accident Syndicate

This is an interesting story but for me lacked the humour of the other two stories. I just found the story dragged a little. The basic concept is a group of friends who pool all their money to buy insurance for their friend and wait for the friend to have an accident. Oh and it does involve a dog, which is always good.

All in all I loved the book and think I will purchase the other three books in the series as they are quick fun reads that you can read in one sitting or one story a day. I highly recommend the book especially for animal lovers and anybody who just wants to read a light hearted fun book. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons! Pan loves the book as well.

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Emma by Jane Austen (Review)

Emma by Jane Austen

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About the author

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Jane Austen born 16th December 1775 died 18th July 1817 was an English novelist known for her six major novels. Austen’s novels are known for social comedy and accurate depiction of human relationships.

Blurb

Emma Woodhouse is one of Austen’s most captivating and vivid characters. Beautiful, spoilt, vain and irrepressibly witty, Emma organises the lives of the inhabitants of her sleepy little village and plays matchmaker with devastating effect.

Review

This is a reread for me and thankfully a better read than when I first read it in 2002. I must admit when I first read Emma I swore never to read it again as I really did not enjoy the book. However, this year I plan on giving some books another chance and this was the first one on the list. In 2002 I rated this book 2 out of 5 stars.

I really enjoyed reading this book for about the first third of the book but I must admit the middle did drive me a little insane. It comes across as long winded and rather overly written and I must admit I just wanted it to get to the happy ending.

The second time of reading I felt rather differently about the characters, I still disliked the Elton’s greatly and found Frank Churchill a spoilt brat who should never have been forgiven for his awful behaviour. Mrs Bates I felt very sorry for living in ever increasing poverty and with a daughter who means well but does not give anyone a moment’s peace. Miss Bates’ dialogues I will be honest I skipped over in places because they just made me cringe.

Mr Woodhouse bless him was more of an old fuss pot than I remembered but he made me smile. Emma was her annoying vain self but thankfully Mr Knightley as usual rescued the situation. Harriet I found very endearing this time and it was nice to see her journey through the book.

I must admit I enjoyed Emma but my rating has only increased slightly to 3 out of 5 Dragons. I will be watching the new film adaptation this year to see if it beats my favourite  adaptation starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Still my least favourite Austen novel but I do not hate it and would read it again.

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The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde (Review)

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

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About the author

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Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. He was a playwright, poet, novelist and short story writer.

Blurb

Everybody in the county knows that the great manor of Canterville Chase has been haunted for 300 years. But when the American minister Mr Otis moves in with his wife and  family, they refuse to be frightened by something as Old World as a ghost.

The Canterville Ghost vows to have his revenge and terrify them all to death with his most despicable deeds. But after the minister offers practical solutions such as Pinkerton’s Champion Stain Remover for the bloodstain in the sitting room, and the twin boys torture him by pelleting him with their peashooters, it’s the poor ghost who is left severely spooked.

Can he possibly rescue his reputation, or will the family offer him a chance to finally lay his – detachable – head down forever?

Review

I was very excited to find this book whilst looking for Christmas presents at Waterstones. I love the film of this story where the ghost is played by Patrick Stewart.

This is a super little short story where you can not help but feel sorry for the poor ghost. He has spent all his ghostly life haunting and terrifying the residents of the manor and now all of a sudden he has a family he can not scare and who delight in scaring him instead. He tries all his tricks but to no avail and slowly it starts to affect his health. That’s if ghosts actually do have ill health?

The Otis family are stereotypically American and a real good laugh. They take everything in their stride and are not fazed by anything. Thankfully one member of this family can also be the ghost’s biggest aid.

I love this little story, I find it sweet and funny and just generally a fun read. I highly recommend this book to everyone and give it a massive 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare (Review)

Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare

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About the author

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William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet, playwright and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in English history. He wrote 39 plays, 154 sonnets and other verses.

Blurb

Venus and Adonis is Shakespeare’s narrative poem about the love of the goddess Venus for the mortal youth Adonis, dedicated partly to his patron, the Earl of Southampton (thought by some to be the beautiful youth to which many of the Sonnets are addressed). The poem recounts Venus’ attempts to woo Adonis, their passionate coupling, and Adonis’ rejection of the goddess, to which she responds with jealousy, with tragic results.

Review

I decided after reading Twelfth Night that I wanted to read more Shakespeare and so reading through his list of works I thought I would go for something that I have never heard of before from Shakespeare and this is what I chose. Sadly I was rather disappointed.

I will be honest it started off well, I soon got into the flow of the poem and was enjoying it, but then it just kept going. It seemed to go on forever and I will be honest before the end I kept checking to see how much more I had left to read and even contemplated giving it up.

This really was not for me and I think it was mainly due to length, I just felt that it could have been shorter and although the language was beautiful and a lot of innuendos were clearly in the text it just seemed to be a bit waffly for my tastes.

All in all this was not my cup of tea and I think I will stick with Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets in the future. Only 2 out 5 Dragons from me this time.

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Exciting News!

Hello everyone

As some of you know I have been doing a Level 3 Accredited Diploma in Diet and Nutrition. Today I can officially say I have passed! I am so happy about this as it was a completely different field of study for me so I was rather worried about it but after reading a lot of books and all my course material I managed to complete all my assignments and pass.

Now I love a challenge so this week I started my next challenge which will take me two years to complete. I have started a Masters in Classical Studies with the Open University and I am very excited! This will be a new challenge which I am hoping will include a lot of reading because I love reading! I’m also looking forward to learning a bit about archaeology as well because that is also included in the course.

So if my reviews and books change to a more classical theme you now all know why.

Wish me luck!

I would love to hear from anyone who is also taking Classical studies or has taken classical studies.

Happy Reading.

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