medea shortened script - ". EURIPIDES MEDEA AND OTHER PLAYS...

This preview shows page 1 - 4 out of 30 pages.

The preview shows page 2 - 4 out of 30 pages.
".EURIPIDESMEDEAANDOTHERPLAYSMEDEA·HECABEELECTRA·HERACLESTranslatedwithan IntroductlonbyPHILIPVBLLACOTTPENGUINBOOKS
NTRODUCTION*f':7sMEDEA(431B.C.)OFthe four plays in this volume, three have in common a pointofspecial interest for their first audience.Medea,Electra,andHerac1esareset respectively in Corinth, Argos, and Thebesjbut for the'solution oftheir dilemmas, the cleansingoftheir guilt, they all looktoAthens.This observation perhaps illumines one aspect oftheunique greatnessofAthens. ThehypOCriSYofneglected idealshasoften been condemnedasa major sin;butin the moral worldasin the romantic,itisbettertohave loved and lostthannevertohave loved. The Athenians in theiractions were certainlyascruel,asdishonest,asgreedy,asrevengeful.asirreligious,asother Greeks;butin their thoughts and aspirationsmanyofthem loved and honouredjustice,integrity, and generosity, andloved their cityasthe shining embodimentofthose virtues -whichitwasnot. Faith without works, may be dead -but faithisseldolDen-tirely without works; andtheworksofthe tragedians kept alivethefaithofAthenians in the beautyofgoodness,and inwhat their cityhad some-times triedtobe, even ifsuccess had beenrare: the sanctuaryofHelIas.InElectra,Orestes' guiltwasincurred wittingly -but at the com-mandofagod; inHerac1es,the crimewascommitted in pure innocence.Bycontrast, Medea's only excusewasher natural passion for revenge;yet she, no lessthanthe others, could rely on sanctuary in Athens.The ChorusofCorinthian women follow their celebratedh.~ofpraise for Athens with questions voicing the instinctive protest thatthere are degrees of wickedness which pollute sanctuary -but thatcannot changethestory. That this principleofthe open gate still hadsignificanceinhistorical timesisshown byThucydides' insistence onitinPericles' Funeral Speech (in Bookii),where itisstated with pridethat Athens allowed free coming and going throughhercitygates.InMedeaEuripides' complimenttohiscity inthishymn of praise appearsin,some measuretocompensate for the effect of the preceding scene•• AgeneralIntroduction to the life and workofEuripidesIsgivenIDAlcertlsaud0t1wPIty's(Penguin Classics).'1
INTRODUCTIONThekingofAthens andhis&iendly offertoMedeawerepartoftheunalterable legend, and would be acceptedassuch bytheAthenianaudience;butthe treatmentoftheepisodeinthisplay isnotonlycuriously arbitrary and unrelatedtotherestoftheaction,butmorethana little satirical;andthe figureofAegeus provides the one Bickerofreliefinthe otherwise uniform sombrenessofthedrama.This,the earliest extant tragedyofEuripides(itis preceded only byAIcutls),shows a moral pattern similartothatofhislast work,71HBacchae.Itopenswithan oppressed victim claiming the sp:npathyofChorus and audience.Asthe action develops inevitably, andthepunishment shows itself twiceaswickedasthe

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

End of preview. Want to read all 30 pages?

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

Term
Fall
Professor
William Weeks

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture