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.
coronet round her head discharged a stream Of unnatural devouring fire: while the fine dress [1188–1221] Your children gave her – poor miserable girl! – the stuff Was eating her clear flesh. She leapt up from her chair, On fire, and ran, shaking her head and her long hair This way and that, trying to shake off the coronet. The ring of gold was fitted close and would not move; The more she shook her head the fiercer the flame burned. At last, exhausted by agony, she fell to the ground;
Priam, dearest friend! Hecabe, no less dear! The fate that you and Troy have suffered, and the death Of your dear daughter, bring the tears into my eyes. Nothing is lasting; fair fame and prosperity Alike may be reversed. The gods dispose our fortunes This way and that in sheer confusion, so that we May reverence them through fear of the unknown. And yet, What is the use of lamentation? It helps no one To overcome his troubles. When you first arrived I was away up-country, as it
Goodness before god and man; These we deliver from their troubles, And bring them success. Therefore let none plot wickedness, Nor sail in the same ship with perjured men. I, a god, give this warning to mortals. Exeunt DIOSCORI. CHORUS: Farewell, sons of Zeus! To be able to fare well, To avoid the frustration of misfortune: That, in this world, is happiness. HERACLES * Characters: AMPHITRYON, known as the father of Heracles MEGARA, wife of Heracles and daughter of Creon,
Heracles [12–46] Led her as bride home to my house. Later, my son Left his wife Megara and all her family here in Thebes, Where I had settled, and set out for the Cyclopian Fortress of Argos, eager to claim it as his home. I had left Argos when I killed Electryon; And so, to end my exile, and himself return To the land of his fathers, Heracles undertook to cleanse The earth of brutal violence. This was the high price He offered Eurystheus for his own recall to Argos. Whether Hera’s
and the Cyclopian walls, with pick and bar Heaved, hammered, burst the door-posts, and with a single shot Dispatched both wife and child. Then he went charging back [1001–1035] To kill his father. But a phantom came – it seemed To us like Pallas, with plumed helmet, brandishing A spear, and hurled a boulder full against his chest, Which checked his murderous fury, stunned him, and he fell Senseless to the ground, striking his back against a pillar Which, broken in two by the collapsing