born April 11, 1939 in Tel Aviv, is a poet and translator. He spent his childhood on Kibbutz Merhavia. After his military service, he studied Greek and philosophy, graduating from Hebrew University in 1966. His doctoral dissertation Home and Family in the Tragedies of Aeschylus was researched at the Sorbonne and defended at the Hebrew University in 1979. In the years 1972-1985 Shabtai taught Greek drama at the Theatre Department of that university. From 1990 to 2006 he was a lecturer in Greek literature at the Poetics and Comparative Literature Department of the University of Tel Aviv.
Since 1966 Aharon Shabtai has published nineteen books of poems. Two of those have appeared in French: Le Poème Domestique (1987) and La Première Lecture (1990). His books available in English are the selection Love and Other Poems (1997) and J’Accuse (2003), a collection of political poetry which he had been writing since 1998. His poems have appeared in such journals as American Poetry Review, London Review of Books and Parnassus: Poetry in Review.
Shabtai has also published Greek Mythology (1999). His interest in Greek literature has resulted in a truly impressive translation project: a series of translations of Greek drama subsidized by the Ministry of Education’s Art and Culture Council. The translations published to date include Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, The Eumenides, Prometheus Bound, The Persians; Sophocles’s Antigone, Oedipus the King, Philoctetes, Oedipus at Colonus, Electra and Ajax; Euripides’s Medea, Alcestis, Bacchae, Electra, Andromache, Iphigenia in Tauris; Aristophanes’s Lisistrata, The Frogs and Hesiod’s Works and Days.
For his poetic achievement Shabtai has received the Prime Minister’s Prize twice (1979, 1993) and for his work as a translator, the Tschernichovsky Prize (1999). He has represented Israel at the international poetry festivals in Rotterdam (1988) and Jerusalem (1993, 1995), as well as a number of literary festivals in Europe and America.
Shabtai’s poetry is varied, comprising both controversial erotic poems and engagé political texts. Famous for his sharp views and outspokenness, the poet is decidedly against Israel’s policy concerning the Arab territories and is highly critical of the violation of the Palestinians’ rights. In 2006 he protested against the bombing of Lebanon and consequently boycotted the Eizenberg Shalom International Poetry Festival in Jerusalem.