Sunday, August 18, 2019

Free Essay on Hecabe :: Hecabe Essays

Free Essay on Hecabe Euripides' play Hecabe, produced in 425 b.c.e., begins with an introduction from the ghost of Polydorus -- Priam and Hecabe's youngest son who was sent away with treasures to stay with a family friend, Polymestor, in Thrace for safekeeping. Troy has fallen now, and when news reached Polymestor, he killed Polydorus and flung his corpse into the sea. It's due to float ashore today. Meanwhile, the ghost of Achilles has appeared to the Greeks and demanded sacrifice: Polyxena, another daughter of the former Trojan royal couple. Priam is dead. His widow has much to bear soon. Hecabe has dreamt of these two children and bad omens. A Chorus of Trojan women, now slaves of Agamemnon, reports of the demands of the dead Achilles and the recent Greek debate. A woeful Hecabe informs Polyxena but the girl seems more sorry for her mother's grief than for the loss of her own life. Odysseus arrives and Hecabe appeals to his sense of honor: she reminds him that she alone recognized him in his disguise when he sneaked into Troy once but did not rat him out. So take her, Hecabe, instead of the girl. Odysseus employs some sophistry to weasel out of such a deal. He and Polyxena exit. The Chorus speculates on where it will end up now. Thessaly? Athens? A Greek herald, Talthybius, wonders, "is all our belief in gods a myth, a lie / Foolishly cherished, while blind hazard rules the world" (77). He has the lamentable duty to inform Hecabe of Polyxena's noble death, who "even as she died, took care to fall / Becomingly, hiding what should be hidden from men's view" (79). Now Hecabe must prepare the body for funeral rites. She sends an old attendant to fetch a jar of sea-water. Polydorus' corpse is discovered, and Hecabe requests from Agamemnon the right to have vengeance against Polymestor. Agamemnon thinks that "women -- can't do anything" (89), but whatever. Polymestor is sent for and brings his two young sons. He puts on a hypocritical yet cursory display of sympathy. "The gods dispose our fortunes / This way and that in sheer confusion, so that we / May reverence them through fear of the unknown" (92).

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