Achilles (play)


Achilles (play)

"Achilleis" is the convenient modern designation [The trilogy's title "Achilleis", widely accepted by modern scholars, is not attested in ancient sources (Michelakis 1999).] of a trilogy of plays written by the Greek tragedian Aeschylus. It follows the Greek hero Achilles during the Trojan War, wherein he defeats Hector and eventually gets killed by Paris when an arrow punctures his heel.

The triad of plays, of which a fragment of the first, " Myrmidons", exists, and scattered quoted lines from the other plays had been known to exist—"Nereids" and "Phrygians", sometimes referred to as the "Ransom of Hector"— due to a parody in Aristophanes' "The Frogs" (lines 911-13), where the provocative and disruptive silence of the Aeschylean Achilles is one of the focal points. The often-discussed theme of the Aeschylean silence revolves around this fragment of "Myrmidons". There are other references to the individual plays and their titles. The known fragments are assembled in H.J. Mette, "Die Fragmente der Tragoedien des Aischylos" (Berlin), 1959. A layman's sense of the pace at which additions to this corpus are made can be had from the fact that a papyrus fragment containing seven letters on three lines that could be fitted over a two-line quote from Justin Martyr' dialogue "Trypho", to show that the quote was in fact from the opening of "Myrmidons" was worth publishing in a note in "Classical Philology", 1971. [Mae Smethurst, "Aeschylus' Myrmidons (Frag. 224 Mette)" "Classical Philology" 66.2 (April 1971), p. 112.]

The trilogy has long been considered lost. [The great fire of the Library of Alexandria is sometimes referenced in this respect.] However, "in the last decades archaeologists found mummies in Egypt which were stuffed with papyrus, containing excerpts of the original plays of Aeschylus," according to press releases from Andy Bargilly, director of the National Theatre of Cyprus, in November 2003 [Releases: [http://www.babelmed.net/index.php?menu=155&cont=381&lingua=en "Greek Play to be performed for first time in 2050 years"] .] The fragments purported to have been discovered have not even yet been reported in the academic press, which would be a remarkable omission. Pantelis Michelakis' "Achilles in Greek Tragedy" (Cambridge University Press, 2002) had appeared the previous year, discussing the existing fragments of "Myrmidons" in chapter 2. Among recently discovered papyrus fragments from Oxyrhyncus a fragment of a scholium on "Myrmidons" has been published. [In Guido Bastianini, Michael Haslam, Herwig Maehler, Franco Montanari, Cornelia E. Römer, "Commentaria et Lexica Graeca in Papyris reperta" (CLGP), part 1, vol. 1, fascicle 1. (Munich 2004).] Along with extant fragments of the play, these new verses were used to reconstruct a playable version. "We do think it is a faithful adaptation to a large extent, but nobody can say 100 percent," Bargilly was reported as saying. [ [http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/15/1068674416942.html "Play to be restaged after script found in mummy".] ]

A Greek author, Elias Malandris, worked on the project for over a decade, it was reported in 2003. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3269965.stm BBC News] .] He characterized his work as based on newly discovered material and a wide array of references to Achilles, found in ancient texts, such as Homer's "Iliad", he pointed out, and other Greek plays.

A small number of verses from these three of Aeschylus' lost works had been saved: fifty-four from "Myrmidons", seven from "Nereids" and twenty-one from "Phrygians." Elias Malandris first translated the remaining material and then - in the first attempt at a reconstruction of this scope - made the recompilation of the three tragedies. In this sense, a trilogy "Achilleis" was born. ["Partzilis said that the trilogy will be called "Achilleis" and will refer to the events of the Trojan War, with Achilles as the leading character." ( [http://greekembassy.org/Embassy/content/en/Article.aspx?office=3&folder=419&article=12488 "Aeschylus’ ‘Achilleis’ trilogy to be restored and played"] , 21 November 2003)]

The reconstructed play was performed by the Cyprus National Theatre (Th.o.C) on August 6 and 7 2004, with Mario Frangoulis as Achilles.

Notes

References

*S. Radt, 1985. "Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta", Vol. 3. Aeschylus (Göttingen) 113. (in Greek)
* [http://www.playbill.com/news/article/82819.html Playbill.com] News report.
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/news/story/0,11711,1084699,00.html "Manchester Guardian"] : 14 November 2003. News report.
* [http://www2.open.ac.uk/ClassicalStudies/GreekPlays/Conf99/michelakis.html Pantelis Michelakis, 1999. "The Spring Before It Is Sprung: visual and non-verbal aspects of power struggle in Aeschylus' "Myrmidons"] Bibliography, including references to previous reconstructions of the "Achilleis".
*Pantelis Michelakis, 2002. "Achilles in Greek Tragedy", (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) ISBN 0-521-81843-5.
*Michelakis (2002) reviewed by David Fitzpatrick [http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2003/2003-06-45.html Bryn Mawr Classical Review 20]
* [http://www.greekembassy.org/Embassy/content/en/Article.aspx?office=1&folder=419&article=12488 "Aeschylus’ ‘Achilleis’ trilogy to be restored and played "] 21 November 2003


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