Euripides, “Hecuba” and Crimes during Wartime


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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4 Responses

  1. Avatar Will says:

    I am totally unfamiliar with “Hecuba,” but after reading this post, I’m struck by how outside the Athenian mainstream Euripides’ anti-war moralizing must have been. His audience was a city that condoned the Siege of Melos – not to mention many other, lesser, atrocities – and had no qualms about maintaining an extensive overseas empire through force of arms. It’s kind of astonishing that the city’s most famous playwright was such an outspoken anti-war critic.Report

    • Avatar lukas says:

      @Will, in that, Athens is quite like 21st century America.Report

    • Avatar Rufus says:

      @Will, Yeah, Euripides is really something else. I’m really amazed at how sympathetic he is towards the plight of women and of slaves. He was certainly successful as a playwright, although an old story held that he did run afoul of powerful citizens because of his plays and some of his friends were murdered over them. This is often mentioned in books on Euripides, but I don’t think there’s any conclusive evidence. He was, however, attacked by Aristophanes who accused him of being an atheist, which I actually find pretty plausible.

      What’s fascinating to me about his plays on war is that there were always stories about how miserable and fruitless war is- starting with the Iliad- but he seems to argue that military victory is just as worthless and corrupting. And that does strike me as a commentary on the decline of Athens.Report