The Trojan Women (Greek Tragedy in New Translations)
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Among surviving Greek tragedies only Euripides' Trojan Women shows us the extinction of a whole city, an entire people. Despite its grim theme, or more likely because of the centrality of that theme to the deepest fears of our own age, this is one of the relatively few Greek tragedies that regularly finds its way to the stage. Here the power of Euripides' theatrical and moral imagination speaks clearly across the twenty-five centuries that separate our world from his. The theme is really a double one: the suffering of the victims of war, exemplified by the woman who survive the fall of Troy, and the degradation of the victors, shown by the Greeks' reckless and ultimately self-destructive behavior. It offers an enduring picture of human fortitude in the midst of despair. Trojan Women gains special relevance, of course, in times of war. It presents a particularly intense account of human suffering and uncertainty, but one that is also rooted in considerations of power and policy, morality and expedience. Furthermore, the seductions of power and the dangers both of its exercise and of resistance to it as portrayed in Trojan Women are not simply philosophical or rhetorical gambits but part of the lived experience of Euripides' day. And their analogues in our own day lie all too close at hand.
This new powerful translation of Trojan Women includes an illuminating introduction, explanatory notes, a glossary, and suggestions for further reading.
unleash an avalanche of rain And pummeling hail and gale storms black as night. He’s promised to let me hurl his thunderbolt 90 Against the Greeks, to blast their ships to nothing, But as for you, your task is the Aegean sea, To roil it up with towering waves and whirlpools Till Euboea’s deep bay churns with corpses, So that from now on Greeks will learn to revere My awesome power, and honor all the gods. poseidon Consider it done. What you’ve asked me to do Needs only doing, not long
amounts to nothing. For even when Hector was at his peak in battle, With thousands of comrades fighting by his side, We still fell, all of us, one by one, and now, Now that the city’s gone, and we’re all destroyed, You’re still afraid of him, this little child. I loathe this fear no reason penetrates. (turning to the body of astyanax) And you, beloved child, how miserably you’ve died. If you had grown to manhood, and had married, 1380 And come into possession of a kingdom Godlike in
grandsons The grandsons of Pelops are Agamemnon and Menelaus; the whole phrase suggests that the army as a body has ratified a decision of the two leaders. 828 / 721 Odysseus known for his unscrupulousness (see note on 304–23) and for his powers of persuasion; in the Palamedes, both were on display. 840–1 / 731–2 We’re capable of doing whatever we want with you, / Just one woman Literally, ‘‘we are capable of doing battle with one woman.’’ These words have seemed overly harsh to some, but
chiseled / Stonework of Apollo Apollo, along with Poseidon, built the walls (see note on 5–6). When Laomedon denied them their wages, Poseidon sent the sea monster from which Heracles rescued Hesione— and was denied his own reward, hence his anger at Troy. 931 / 817 Twice in two pummeling storms This transition returns our focus to the current destruction of Troy. 934–5 / 821–2 Useless son / Of Laomedon Euripides’ genealogy of the Trojan kings differs from that of Homer (Iliad 5.265–6),
known collectively as the Dioscuri. After their deaths, they were taken to the heavens as gods and became known for rescuing those in danger, especially mariners at sea. charybdis: A sea monster whose swallowing and disgorging of great quantities of water, producing the effect of a whirlpool, made it dangerous to sail near her. Odysseus, when first passing be- tween her and Scylla, another monstrous creature, escapes unharmed; returning, he is caught up in the whirlpool and only saves