Essay 2_Euripides defense-good Tragedian-due may29.09

Essay 2_Euripides defense-good Tragedian-due may29.09 -...

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Yilan Shi Classics 10, 29 May 2009 Professor: Dr. Andrew Koh, TA: Mac Marsten Hippolytus: Tragedy at its Best Athens was famous not only for its practice of democracy and its philosophers, but also for being the birthplace of fine literature and drama. Tragic plays became an integral part of society in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE because they were a popular form of entertainment and form of cultural expression. Euripides was a famous tragedian who has come under the scholarly criticism for his plays. Some say that he represents the decline of quality Athenian Tragedy. However, Aristotle states quite the opposite; he supports that Euripides’ tragedies adhere strongly to the six aspects of tragedy discussed in Aristotle’s Poetics. Using Euripides’s drama Hippolytus as a case study, four of these six aspects – diction, thought, character, and plot – will be detailed below to support Aristotle’s defense of Euripides as one of the most successful Athenian tragedians. Euripides’ use of diction is masterful and appropriate for the scenes and actions he tries to convey. For instance, Aristotle states in Poetics that “the perfection of style is to be clear without being mean” (Poetics part XXII). In other words, a well-crafted tragedy should contain words that are not vernacular or arcane, but be easy to understand for the audience. But diction and syntax should also contain some metaphorical quality or uniqueness to “raise it above the commonplace” (Poetics part XXII) and improve the artistry of the drama. Euripides does just this in Hippolytus. In describing how Hippolytus worships Artemis at her temple, the virtuous young man praises the following: “Loved mistress, here I offer your this coronal; It is a true worshipper’s hand that give it you
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To crown the golden glory of your hair” ( Hippolytus lines 81-83). The words “mistress,” “this” and “worshipper” all have the “s” sounds. The words “loved,” “offer,” “coronal,” “golden” and “glory” all contain the “o” sounds. The golden hair invokes a pristine, angelic image of a beautiful goddess. Soft “s” sounds, “o” constants and ethereal imagery are employed to convey Hippolytus’ endearment and admiration for Artemis. Hippolytus’ choice of devotion to the Maiden Goddess indicates that he desires a virtuous and abstinent existence. This character trait becomes a focal point later on and is in fact what brings about his demise as a tragic hero. So by the simple utilization of the tools of diction, Euripides was able not only to illustrate Hippolytus’ devotion to Artemis, but also to reveal Hippolytus central character trait. Thought is another aspect of a good tragedy Aristotle discusses. Aristotle states that thought is
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Essay 2_Euripides defense-good Tragedian-due may29.09 -...

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