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.
the king went to Troy – the son, Orestes, Aegisthus was resolved to kill; but an old slave Who had once looked after the boy’s father, took him off To Phocis, and gave him to Strophius to bring up. Electra stayed at home; when she was marriageable, And nobles from all Hellas came to beg her hand, Aegisthus, fearing, if her husband were a prince, Her son would take revenge for Agamemnon’s death, Kept her at home, and would let no one marry her. But this plan too seemed dangerous; she
Would you be resolute to help him kill your mother? ELECTRA: I would – with the same axe by which my father died. ORESTES: I’ll tell him, then, that you are steadfast? ELECTRA: When I have shed Her blood to requite his, then I can die content. ORESTES [after a pause, realizing that she is twice as resolute as he]: I wish Orestes could be by, to hear you speak. [283–316] ELECTRA: Friend, if I saw him I should not recognize him. ORESTES: No, naturally; you were both young when you were
tossing – at the starting-point, Silent, his rolling eyeballs full of maniac fire; Breathing convulsively, and with a terrible Deep bellow, like a bull about to charge, he shrieks To all Hell’s fiends – I’ll plague you worse yet! You shall dance In terror to my piping! – Iris, wing your way Back to Olympus. I’ll enter this house unseen. Exit IRIS, above; MADNESS enters the palace. CHORUS: O city of Thebes, weep and lament! Your choice flower is cut down. Unhappy Hellas, you will lose
coward’s act; For one who cannot face the blows of Fate will quail Before a spear held by a man. I will await My death with patience; and I will come with you to Athen s; And for your generous gifts I thank you heartily. Theseus, I know the taste of pain and weariness. I’ve shirked nothing; never allowed my eyes a tear. I little thought that I should come to tears at last. We are slaves to Fortune; and we must accept our bonds. Father, you see I am exiled from Thebes; you see My hands
hear what my mistress is saying, Clamouring to Themis, hearer of prayer, And to Zeus, who is named guardian of men’s oaths? It is no trifling matter That can end a rage like hers. CHORUS: I wish she would come out here and let us see her And talk to her; if she would listen Perhaps she would drop this fierce resentful spirit, This passionate indignation. As a friend I am anxious to do whatever I can. [180–213] Go, nurse, persuade her to come out to us. Tell her we are all on her side.