The Trojan Women and Other Plays (Oxford World's Classics)
Euripides, James Morwood
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This volume of Euripides' plays offers new translations of the three great war plays Trojan Women, Hecuba, and Andromache, in which the sufferings of Troy's survivors are harrowingly depicted. With unparalleled intensity, Euripides--whom Aristotle called the most tragic of poets--describes the horrific brutality that both women and children undergo during war. Yet, in the war's aftermath, this brutality is challenged and a new battleground is revealed where the women of Troy evince an overwhelming greatness of spirit.
We weep for the aged Hecuba in her name play and in Trojan Women, while at the same time we admire her resilience amid unrelieved suffering. Andromache, the slave-concubine of her husband's killer, endures her existence in the victor's country with a stoic nobility. Of their time yet timeless, these plays insist on the victory of the female spirit amid the horrors visited on them by the gods and men during war.
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first of all I wish to sing my swan-song over the blessings of my life. In this way I shall enhance the pathos of my sufferings. I was of royal blood,* I married into a royal house, and there I gave birth to the best of children—yes, they were no mere ciphers but the foremost men of the Phrygians. No Trojan woman, no Greek or barbarian could boast that she had borne such children. And I saw them fall beneath the Greek spear and had this hair of mine shorn at their corpses’ graves.* As for 480
gift, a crown and glory to gleaming Athens,* you came, you came from Greece, with Alcmena’s son, the bowman,* your partner in noble deeds, to sack Troy, Troy, the city that once was ours, when, cheated of the mares,* he led the finest flower of Greece, and checked his sea-voyaging oar 810 by the fair-flowing Simois,* and fastened the cables from the sterns, and from the ships he took his trusty bow which brought death to Laomedon. He destroyed the walls of stone, Phoebus’ fine
of the white-winged Day,* friendly to mortals, looked on the destruction of our land, 850 looked on the ruin of Pergamum, though she had in her bedroom a husband from this land to give her children,* the man whom the starry four-horsed chariot of gold, snatched up and took away to be a great hope for his fatherland. But Troy’s love charms over the gods are no more. Enter MENELAUS with attendants. MENELAUS. This day’s sun—with what splendid radiance it 860 shines!—this day on which I
Menelaus has gone off from the house to get him. ANDROMACHE. O my sorrow! Has he discovered that I sent 70 my son away? However did he find out that? How wretched I am! All is over with me. SERVING WOMAN. I don’t know. I heard this from them. ANDROMACHE. So it is all over. O my child, the pair of vultures will take you and kill you, while the man they call your father is still lingering in Delphi.* SERVING WOMAN. Yes, I think you would not be in such a sorry plight if he were here. But as
contrast with Sophocles’ attested appointments to high office, may suggest a neutral emotional detachment from public affairs. Yet Euripides was profoundly engaged with the intellectual and ethical questions which the war had asked and which underlay the policy debates in the Athenian assembly. For these appear in thin disguise in his tragedies, which repeatedly confront notions of patriotism, pragmatism, expediency, and force majeure with the ideals of loyalty, equity, justice, and clemency.