At the heart of Iphigenia’s enduring story are an ambitious, opportunistic, and indecisive leader and the daughter whose life he is willing to sacrifice. In The Iphigenia Plays, poet Rachel Hadas offers a new generation of readers a graceful, clear, and powerful translation of Euripides’s two spellbinding (and very different) plays drawn from this legend: Iphigenia in Aulis and Iphigenia among the Taurians.
Even for readers unfamiliar with Greek mythology or drama, these plays are suspenseful, poignant, and haunting. Euripides’s ability to evoke emotion and raise difficult questions has long engaged viewers and readers alike. Taken together, the two plays illuminate timeless human conflicts, showcasing individuals and families ensnared by the fury of war, of politics, of religion, and of ambition. Euripidean characters are always second-guessing themselves; now new readers can also ponder their dilemmas.
Poet and translator Rachel Hadas highlights the lyricism, emotion, and sheer humanity of Euripides’s plays. Mordant humor is here; so are heartbreak and tenderness. Hadas offers an Iphigenia story that resonates with our own troubled times and demonstrates anew the genius of one of the world’s supreme dramatists.
“Rachel Hadas’s new translation of the Iphigenia plays carves out its own space among recent translations of Euripides. None of them are quite so vivid, so contemporary, or (above all) so full of poetic interest. For those serious readers of poetry, Hadas’s translation will also stand out as constantly intriguing, inventive, and various.”—John Talbot, author of Rough Translation: Poems
“These renderings illuminate again a character woven intensely in the fabric of the classical world. They also resound present concerns and cares, alongside the acuities of a translator who is also a poet. Hadas produces here some sublime passages, driven by an unfailing sense of rhythm and deep understanding of Euripides’ moral nightmares.” —Paschalis Nikolaou, author of The Return of Pytheas: Scenes from British and Greek Poetry in Dialogue
"How fortunate are we to have both of Euripides’ plays about Iphigenia together in one volume, in fluent and lively verse translations, eminently readable and playable, an equal joy for readers and actors alike. Rachel Hadas has accomplished this as only a poet with a deep knowledge of the classical tradition and an impeccable technique could have done." —Charles Martin, translator of The Poems of Catullus and Ovid's Metamorphoses
"I liked reading these plays but I don’t like summarizing because the beauty’s in the reading. Anytime a seasoned poet’s at work, you can be sure the language is worthy of the story. Hadas spent three years translating these. They deserve more than short mention: They deserve to be read in full." —Grace Cavalieri, The Washington Independent Review of Books
"Rachel Hadas’s fresh and lucid new translations of Euripides’ tragedy and romance about Iphigenia (bride-to-be, victim, martyr, heroine, priestess) invite us to reread these plays with new appreciation for their topicality, as the characters attempt to navigate the colliding spheres of public and private, state and individual, celebrity and notoriety, duty and desire. The characters speak in a clear contemporary vernacular, while never letting us forget that these plays are poetry. Hadas’s verses are nimble of foot, while the music of organically-occurring full and slant rhymes (such as “altar,” “daughter” and “slaughter”) underscores the themes." —A. E. Stallings