The Oedipus Plays

  • by Sophocles, Ian Johnston - translator
  • Narrated by Jamie Glover, Hayley Atwell, Michael Maloney, Samantha Bond, Julian Glover, David Horovitch
  • 5 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The three Theban plays by Sophocles - Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone - are one of the great landmarks of Western theatre. They tell the story of Oedipus, King of Thebes, who was destined to suffer a terrible fate - to kill his father, marry his mother, and beget children of the incestuous union. He does this unknowingly but still has to suffer terrible consequences, which also tragically affect the next generation.
These three plays were written around 450 BC, with the playwright following the established convention of presenting the story through main characters but using a chorus - sometimes one voice, sometimes more - as an independent commentator that also occasionally participates in the drama. When the audiences of ancient Athens went to the amphitheatres to see the plays, they would have known the basic story of poor Oedipus.
Nevertheless, the power of Sophocles' retelling made the Theban plays deeply horrifying and affecting - and this is still true now, some 2,500 years later. There is also a strong contemporary resonance for us, for in the 20th century the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud famously adopted the story to illustrate his Oedipus complex, which, he argued, was a condition of the unconscious mind in boys - that they want to sleep with their mothers. It is interesting that through the character of the queen, Jocasta, in Oedipus the King, Sophocles states this unequivocally.
Oedipus the King is well known. The other two are less so: Oedipus at Colonus, which deals with his last days, and Antigone, which casts the spotlight on his daughter, who, as part of the accursed blood line, chooses to act in a way she believes is right, whatever the consequences. Yet they are equally powerful and moving.
This audio production, with Jamie Glover as Oedipus and Hayley Atwell as his daughter, Antigone, is a world premiere audio recording of all three plays.
With the authoritative but modern translation by Ian Johnston, specially commissioned new music from the English composer Roger Marsh, and a cast of outstanding actors, this Audible Original presentation of Sophocles' Theban plays will be listened to not once but many times.


What the Critics Say

"This outstanding full cast, and Roger Marsh's original music, serves Ian Johnston's vigorous verse translation of Sophocles very well. None of the actors can be singled out; they're all marvelous at combining the original declamatory tradition with modern ideas about portraying character and emotion. The result is a moving dramatic experience that is enhanced by, but does not require, a background in the classics. This is a first-rate example not only of why the classics endure, but also of what can be done with the medium of audio." (AudioFile magazine)
"The casting is first rate, as are Ian Johnston's strong, simple lines and the startlingly effective music." (The Times)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


I liked the way the play was transfermed in an audio book!!! Great readrs too!!! Thank you for providing it for free!
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- Anna Maria Rusanova

In the harsh Sophoclean Light

Each time I read (or in this case listen to) Oedipus The King, it grows more devastating. I read it first as a student some 13 years ago and it moved me then despite my tender age. I tought the play when I became a teacher, and renewing my aquaintance with it again at 32, thanks to this excellent production, I find that it has grown even more powerful. You need age and success on your side to truly understand the dreadful implications of this story of a good but proud man brought to ruin by an inescapable destiny. Anyone interested in Theatre or Literature should get this. you don't need a grounding in Greek mythology to enjoy it as most actions are explained by the characters, but be advised it isn't an easy listen. The production values are good and the acting is for the most part excellent; Johnstone's translation is indeed authoritative, but it it sometimes lacks the pithiness of Robert Fagles' translation. this is made up for by the strength and pathos of the main performers, and the occasional clunkiness of the translation is most apparent in the lines of the chorus; watch out for Jonathan Oliver, something about his voice suits his role in the chorus perfectly. I look forward to listening to the two remaining Theban plays, but I think Oedipus will haunt me forever. I've learned to count no man truly happy until he is dead, and you don't forget lessons like that in a hurry.
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- Dr

Book Details

  • Release Date: 14-06-2016
  • Publisher: Audible Studios