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The Tragedies of Euripides - Volume 1


Book Overview: 

Like Euripides' Trojan Women, this play takes place after the sack of Troy. Hecuba, widow of King Priam, suffers the loss of her daughter Polyxena and her son Polydore, and is hungry for revenge on those who have wronged her.

In accordance with the advice of the god Apollo, Orestes has killed his mother Clytemnestra to avenge the death of his father Agamemnon at her hands. Despite Apollo’s earlier prophecy, Orestes finds himself tormented by Erinyes or Furies to the blood guilt stemming from his matricide. The only person capable of calming Orestes down from his madness is his sister Electra. To complicate matters further, a leading political faction of Argos wants to put Orestes to death for the murder. Orestes’ only hope to save his life lies in his uncle Menelaus, who has returned with Helen after spending ten years in Troy and several more years amassing wealth in Egypt. In the chronology of events following Orestes, this play takes place after the events contained in plays such as Electra by Euripides or The Libation Bearers by Aeschylus, and before events contained in plays like The Eumenides by Aeschylus and Andromache by Euripides. As Buckley's translation of the argument concludes, "The play is among the most celebrated on the stage, but infamous in its morals; for, with the exception of Pylades, all the characters are bad persons."

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .l, having this calamity in common with my brother?

MESS. I chanced indeed to be entering the gates from the country, anxious to hear both what regarded thee, and what regarded Orestes; for at all times I had a favorable inclination toward thy father: and thy house fed me, poor indeed, but noble in my conduct toward friends. But I see the crowd going and sitting down on an eminence; where they say Danaus first collected the people to a common council, when he suffered punishment at the hands of Ægyptus. But seeing this concourse, I asked one of the citizens, "What new thing is stirring in Argos? Has any message from hostile powers roused the city of the Danaids?" But he said, "Seest thou not this Orestes walking near us, who is about to run in the contest of life and death?" But I see an unexpected sight, which oh that I had never seen! Pylades and thy brother walking together, the one indeed broken with sickness, but the other, like a br. . . Read More