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.
too, from me. HECABE: Others fare well: for me that word is meaningless. POLYXENA: My brother Polydorus too, far off in Thrace. HECABE: If he still lives. Can even one joy be left to me? POLYXENA: He lives, mother; and when you die he’ll close your eyes. HECABE: Sorrow and suffering have destroyed me. I am dead. POLYXENA: Take me, Odysseus. Wrap my cloak over my head. While death is still before me, my heart melts to hear [434–467] My mother weep; and her heart melts to see my tears. O
bleeding eyes? Ah! Hush! I heard a stealthy step – That’s one of them! If I catch her I’ll tear her flesh and break her bones, I’ll make my meal on these savage beasts; I’ll do to them what they’ve done to me, I’ll have my revenge. Where can I go? Must I leave my children To be torn in pieces by fiends of death? Leave them as food for dogs, Their bleeding flesh cast on the mountain-side? Where can I furl sail like a sea-going ship? Where can I stop and rest? Let me find the place
old to serve the Muses, Who taught me their secrets. Triumph-songs are sung by girls of Delos As they turn in the graceful dance by the temple doors Of Leto’s glorious son; And I will sing a triumph here at your door, Raising my swan-song from grey-bearded lips. I have a splendid theme: Heracles Is the son of Zeus; And has surpassed the glory of his birth With the labours of his noble life; By destroying beasts of which men lived in terror He won for us the tranquillity we enjoy.
CHORUS: You were a muiderer; for all your wickedness This is just revenge; you must endure it. Who was the man of mortal flesh Who, uttering lawless blasphemy, Challenged with foolish words the gods of heaven, And said they have no power? Friends, that wicked man is dead. The house is silent. Come, dance for joy; Our hopes are answered; those we love have won. The music of dance and feast Rings through the holy city of Thebes. Fortune has turned – tears are forgotten; Fortune has
turned – troubles are ended, Songs of joy are born. [768–797] The usurper has gone; Our former king rules again, Safe home from the harbour of death; Hope beyond all hopes has come to us. The gods, the gods take heed of men; They observe wickedness and goodness. Gold, with good fortune, Yoked to the chariot of mortal life, Speeds it along the course of pride; On their flank is harnessed unscrupulous power. The reckless driver gives never a glance At the return course, the time yet