Hecuba Synopsis

Hecuba Synopsis - Synopsis Euripides Hecuba takes place...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Synopsis Euripides’ Hecuba takes place immediately after the Greek victory at Troy. The Greeks have attempted to set sail for home but have been forced by a lack of wind to camp on the small Thracian promontory across from Troy. 1 They have the captive Trojan women with them and they have been stranded for three days when a ghost appears to Hecuba in her sleep. It is Polydorus, Hecuba’s youngest son, whose welfare she and Priam had entrusted during the war to the Thracian king Polymestor along with a significant amount of gold. 2 The ghost has much to report in the form of a prologue for the play. He not only details his own death to Hecuba and to the play’s audience, but prophesies the death of his sister. As long as Troy stood, the ghost reports, Polymestor cared for him. But when the city was taken, the Thracian king murdered him for the gold and threw his body carelessly into the sea. Now the ghost has begged the gods in Hades for a proper burial by his mother’s hands, and they have granted his request. But there is more. According to Polydorus, the ghost of Achilles appeared above his tomb as the Greeks were leaving Troy and demanded the sacrifice of Polyxena (daughter of Hecuba, sister of Polydorus) as a final prize of war. Polydorus implies that this is what has stayed the ships at Thrace. And the sacrifice shall come to pass, he says, because the friends of Achilles will honor him. The chorus in the Hecuba is made up of enslaved Trojan women, former handmaidens to the queen. When they hear Hecuba’s panicked voice, they race to her side from the various tents of their new Greek masters. But they also come with news: 1 The lack of winds indicates that something is out of order and must be addressed. The same problem plagued the Greeks when they originally set sail for Troy. On that occasion, the sacrifice of Agamemnon’s own daughter, Iphigenia, finally allowed the Greeks to set sail. 2 Polydorus was too young to manage the heavy armor of battle and was therefore useless to the Trojan war effort. The name Polydorus literally means “much gold”.
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
the Greeks have already met in full assembly and debated Achilles’ demand. Agamemnon, we are told, argued against the sacrifice of Polyxena. But his motives were called into question by the two sons of Theseus, who charged him with caring more for the family of his personal slave Cassandra (Polyxena’s sister) than the honor of the Greek’s best soldier. 3 And the debate was balanced, according to the chorus, until Odysseus, “that wily-minded, babbling, sweet-talking crowd-pleaser” persuaded the army to vote for Polyxena’s death (132-133). 4 Hecuba is overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness. She is frail with old age, a slave without husband or sons to defend her. She barely has time to convey the horrible news to Polyxena and to grieve with the child before Odysseus is upon them. He has come to collect Polyxena for the sacrifice and instructs Hecuba not to resist his power. But Hecuba does resist in one of the only ways left open to her: she tries to persuade
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 6

Hecuba Synopsis - Synopsis Euripides Hecuba takes place...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online