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.
her golden hair. She cannot resist such loveliness, such heavenly gleaming; She will enfold herself In the dress and the wreath of wrought gold, Preparing her bridal beauty To enter a new home – among the dead. So fatal is the snare she will fall into, So inevitable the death that awaits her; From its cruelty there is no escape. And you, unhappy Jason, ill-starred in marriage, You, son-in-law of kings: Little you know that the favour you ask Will seal your sons’ destruction And fasten
feet, You must go to her – Daughter, Polyxena! Come out, come out here to your unhappy mother! Hear what I have to tell you, child – What a terrible, terrible word they have brought me – About your life. Enter POLYXENA. POLYXENA: Mother, mother, why are you crying? Why did you call me so loudly As if you were scaring a bird from a bush? HECABE: Oh, my child! POLYXENA: What is the matter? It must be something dreadful. HECABE: Oh, child! Your life, your life! POLYXENA: Speak out,
HECABE: A name to signify My transformation? POLYMESTOR: Cynossema, the Dog’s Grave; A sign for sailors. HECABE: I care nothing. I am avenged. POLYMESTOR: There’s more to tell. Cassandra shall be murdered too. HECABE: No! Never! May the gods fulfil such words for you! POLYMESTOR: Agamemnon’s wife, who waits implacably at home, Shall kill her. HECABE: Gods prevent such madness! POLYMESTOR: She shall raise Her axe on high, and murder Agamemnon too. AGAMEMNON: Here – are you mad? or
for his head; We meanwhile will dance to delight the Muses. Now our own true king, Of the line that we loved in the old days, Has destroyed the usurper And holds his rightful rule in Argos. Come, let heart and voice rise together. ELECTRA returns carrying two crowns or wreaths, as ORESTES enters with PYLADES, followed by others bearing the body of AEGISTHUS. ELECTRA: Welcome, brave conqueror! Welcome, Orestes, worthy son Of him who conquered Troy! Come, let me bind your hair With this
she bore me! How can I take her life? ELECTRA: How? As she took our father Agamemnon’s life. ORESTES: Phoebus, your oracle is blind brutality! ELECTRA: Whose eyes can hope to see, then, if Apollo’s blind? ORESTES: It is wrong to kill my mother! Yet you said I must. ELECTRA: You avenge your father – what harm comes to you from that? ORESTES: Avenging him I am pure; but killing her, condemned. ELECTRA: If you neglect to avenge him you defy the gods. ORESTES: But if I kill my mother, shall I