Helen Presentation Classics 217

Helen Presentation Classics 217 - Background First...

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Background First performed in 412 BC in Athens City was @ war w/Sparta for 20 yrs.; suffered famine, plague, devastation for an imperial cause that by this time was hopelessly lost and discredited Year earlier, Athens’ huge armada was completely destroyed at Syracuse by the Greek colonies of Sicily over which Athens tried to exert its control Written in context of a strong sentiment of disillusionment with war. Values and assumptions of the existing civic and cultural order in Athens had suffered an irreversible blow, with only meaningless death and brutality remaining. Rebirth, reexamination of ethical order was badly needed. Euripides responded to this in Helen. Play was written to be performed during the festival of Thesmophoria, in which female initiates enacted rituals in honor of the Earth Mother Demeter and her daughter Persephone, queen of the underworld (prominent in Helen; I will get back to this later). Theme: principle of “life from death.” Helen personifies the “love and death” paradox; she represents beauty and desire, like Aphrodite. But Aphrodite can also be a goddess of death as Trojan War proved. However, in Euripides’ version of the story, Helen is also like the innocent Persephone, who is abducted and then made into a scapegoat for sufferings she did not cause. By producing Helen for Thesmophoria Euripides
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This note was uploaded on 01/10/2009 for the course CLASS 217 taught by Professor Pucci during the Fall '07 term at Cornell.

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Helen Presentation Classics 217 - Background First...

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