Translating and Adapting Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes in the United States


Giovanna Di Martino
Oxford University


Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes, La Mama, New York Theatre Workshop


After centuries of neglect, Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes has gained increasing prominence worldwide and in the United States in particular, where a hip-hop production caught the public imagination in the new millennium. This study analyses three translations of Aeschylus’ tragedy (by Helen H. Bacon and Anthony Hecht, 1973; Stephen Sandy, 1999; and Carl R. Mueller, 2002) and two adaptations (by Will Power, 2001-2008; and Ellen Stewart, 2001-2004). Beginning in the late 1960s, the Seven Against Thebes has received multiple new readings: at stake are Eteocles’ and Polynices’ relationships with the (past and present) Labdacid dynasty; the brothers’ claims to the Theban polis and to their inheritance; and the metatheatrical implications of their relationship to Oedipus’ legacy. This previously forgotten play provides a timely response to the power dynamics at work in the contemporary US, where the fight for ethnic, cultural, economic, and linguistic recognition is a daily reality and always involves dialogue with the individual’s own past and tradition.

ISBN 979-12-200-6189-6



July 24, 2020

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