Medea and Other Plays
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Medea, in which a spurned woman takes revenge upon her lover by killing her children, is one of the most shocking and horrific of all the Greek tragedies. Dominating the play is Medea herself, a towering and powerful figure who demonstrates Euripides' unusual willingness to give voice to a woman's case. Alcestis, a tragicomedy, is based on a magical myth in which Death is overcome, and The Children of Heracles examines the conflict between might and right, while Hippolytus deals with self-destructive integrity and moral dilemmas. These plays show Euripides transforming the awesome figures of Greek mythology into recognizable, fallible human beings.
golden sun. [638–670] Now pain and cruel compulsion Are round us in an unbreakable ring. By one man’s folly a whole nation, All who drink from the river Simois, Are destroyed and die together At the onset of aliens. The judgement made on Mount Ida, When the quarrel of three immortal goddesses Was settled by a herdsman – That word brought war and slaughter And the ravaging of my home. And not only here; but by the clear Eurotas Some Spartan wife is sitting in her house Lost in
AGAMEMNON: Was it the king You sent him to, Polymestor? HECABE: Yes, to Polymestor. We sent gold with him; that cost him his life. AGAMEMNON: Why, what Happened to him? Who murdered him? HECABE: Who? Why, who else? Our Thracian friend. AGAMEMNON: A murderer! All to get the gold? HECABE: Yes, when he learnt that Troy had fallen. AGAMEMNON: Who brought him here? Where was he found? HECABE: This woman found him on the shore. AGAMEMNON: Looking for him, or at some other task? HECABE: She
gods, and make This murderous friend of yours pay fitly for his crime, If we could find some way to carry out your wish [855–887] Without letting the army think I have connived At killing Polymestor for Cassandra’s love. One point disturbs me specially: the Greeks regard This Polymestor as an ally, and your son As an enemy; the fact that he’s your son does not Concern them. So think what you’d better do. You’ll find me Eager to help you, but slow to take any step Likely to invite
of Lycean Zeus, Settle in a city which shall take its name from you. Such is your destiny. The dead Aegisthus here Men of Argos shall bury in a tomb of earth. As for your mother, Helen her sister and Menelaus Shall bury her. They have just now reached Nauplia, So many years since Troy was taken. Helen, in fact, Never saw Troy; she has just come from Proteus’ palace In Egypt. Zeus sent off to Troy a phantom Helen To stir up strife and slaughter in the human race. Let Pylades, his virgin
carefully considered Your problem, and come now, in spite of everything, To see that you and the children are not sent away With an empty purse, or unprovided. Exile brings With it a train of difficulties. You no doubt Hate me: but I could never bear ill-will to you. MEDEA: You filthy coward! – if I knew any worse name For such unmanliness I’d use it – so, you’ve come! You, my worst enemy, come to me! Oh, it’s not courage, This looking friends in the face after betraying them. It is not