Category Archives: Euripides

EURIPIDES: The Bacchantes

In the Bacchantes, Euripides relates the tale of Dionysus’ revenge on the people of Thebes. Dionysus is the Greek god of wine, theater, and ecstasy. The people of Thebes refuse to acknowledge this new god of the Greek pantheon. In retaliation, Dionysus drives the women of the town mad, sending them into the surrounding forests to dance and perform rites associated with the cult of Dionysus. King Pentheus abhors the women’s behavior, and wishes to put an end to their revelry. Dionysus persuades Pentheus to disguise himself as a woman so that he can spy on the mysterious rites. Pentheus’ mother Agave and the other woman discover Pentheus, who appears to them as a wild lion because Dionysus has concealed Pentheus’ true identity from them. The women tear Pentheus apart with their hands. Agave returns to Thebes with Pentheus’ head on a stake. The play ends when her wits return to her, and she realizes that she has killed her son. Continue reading EURIPIDES: The Bacchantes

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EURIPIDES: Trojan Women

In the Trojan Women, Euripides describes the aftermath of the Trojan War. The play opens with Poseidon grieving over his beloved city of Troy, which the Greeks have conquered. Athena appears, and implores Poseidon to aid her in bringing woe to the Greeks during their voyage home. Though she helped the Greeks defeat Troy, they incurred her wrath by profaning her temple. Poseidon agrees, and the gods exit. The remainder of the play is concerned with the griefs of the vanquished women of Troy as they mourn the loss of their loved ones and lament their fate as slaves to the victorious Greeks. In a particularly disturbing scene, Greek messengers tear Astyanax – the baby boy of the slain Trojan hero Hector– away from his mother Andromache, and cast him from the walls of Troy to his death. Continue reading EURIPIDES: Trojan Women

EURIPIDES: Hippolytus

In the Hippolytus, Euripides presents the tragic nature of love. Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love, is the first character to appear on stage. She gives a soliloquy, in which she informs the audience that she will avenge herself upon Hippolytus because he does not revere her. She accomplishes her design by making Hippolytus’s step mother Phaedra fall in love with him. Phaedra commits suicide, and accuses Hippolytus of raping her. Theseus, Hippolytus’s father and Phaedra’s husband, believes her deathbed confession, and curses Hippolytus, invoking Poseidon to kill Hippolytus. Poseidon grants Theseus’s wish. The god sends a bull from the ocean that startles Hippolytus’s horses. Hippolytus falls from his chariot and dies. Continue reading EURIPIDES: Hippolytus