This month my online book club went back to the classics and read Agamemnon. I got Oliver Taplin’s translation from the book above that had the entire Oresteia trilogy. Taplin’s translation was smooth poetry that was quite easy to understand but I wanted some footnotes so I wouldn’t have to look up all the specifically Greek terms like threnody and such.
Aeschylus takes the audience and readers on a fierce journey with powerful people betraying each other, killing their daughters, and getting revenge as they story examines whether people have free will or not. It’s a swift read that still has power today. The play is stark with few extras. Whereas contemporary stories have lots of walk on parts, the Greeks had the chorus do most of the exposition, analysis and commentary on the characters. Aeschylus wisely knows that he’ll cause the audience to become involved by creating complicated characters who do terrible or foolish things and deserve punishment, but since those inflicting the punishment are even worse people, who articulate their side well, that your mind will spend days turning the story over in their minds.
I’m glad I read this powerful play because it showed me that paring down a story to its essentials and making characters bold makes a story stronger. Even though Clytemnestra gives Lady Macbeth a run for her money, the story’s so absorbing that I stayed with it.
There’s a reason people still read the ancient Greeks and Shakespeare. I liked this translation so much that I will read the other two plays.
This week Sepia Saturday prompts us to seek out photos of dancers, Greek goddesses or silly poses. I found the photos below on Flickr Commons. Dancers and thespians certainly were ethereal when portraying ancient Greeks. Modern folks are much more earth bound.
Talk about a mouthful – ostrobogulous, but it has tickled my fancy. How to work it into conversation? I’ll try to find a way.
Pronunciation: Brit. /ˌɒstrəʊˈbɒɡjᵿləs/, U.S. /ˌɑstroʊˈbɑɡjələs/
Etymology: Apparently irregularly < oestrous adj. + -o- connective + either bog n.1 or bog n.4 + -ulous suffix, attributed to Victor Benjamin Neuburg, British writer (1883–1940); compare:
1973 Times Lit. Suppl. 27 July 871/2 It was sick, dirty, or more precisely, ‘ostrobogulous’, which according to Victor Neuburg..meant etymologically full of (Latin, ulus) rich (Greek, ostro) dirt (schoolboy, bog). Chiefly humorous.
Used after Neuburg to designate something that is slightly risqué or indecent. Also applied arbitrarily to things which are bizarre, interesting, or unusual in some other way (see quots.).
1951 A. Calder-Marshall Magic my Youth i. 31 ‘Ostrobogulous’ was Vickybird’s favourite word. It stood for anything from the bawdy to the slightly off-colour. Any double entendre that might otherwise have escaped his audience was prefaced by, ‘if you will pardon the ostrobogulosity’.
1952 A.Graves Ostrobogulous Pigs 7 Once upon a time there were..five ostrobogulous skipperty flipperty filthy grubby muddy little pigs.
1963 Sunday Times 29 Dec. 19/2 (heading) An ostrobogulous year for the toy men.
1965 J. O. Fuller Magical Dilemma V. Neuburg i. iv. 58 Some of the entries were not printed because they were ostrobogulous. This was a wonderful word of Vicky’s. It was used in the place of indecent or pornographic, and had the advantage..that it implied no moral attitude.
1972 Times Lit. Suppl. 30 June 757/4 His career, fabulous, prestigious, sordid, sinister, and in the word of Victor Neuburg ostrobogulous.
ostroboguˈlation n. nonce-wd.
1952 A. Graves Ostrobogulous Pigs 11 ‘I can no longer endure the odorous and objectionable ostrobogulations of those creatures,’ said Angelina Boghurst-Fisher.
ostroˈbogulatory adj. nonce-wd.
1952 A. Graves Ostrobogulous Pigs 10, I can no longer endure this ostrobogulatory behaviour.