Comparitive Study Between Euripides' Alcestis and Hippolytus

Topics: Tragedy, Euripides, Aphrodite Pages: 7 (2447 words) Published: February 3, 2010
Euripides, youngest of the three great Greek tragedians, was born c.485 BC though he was scarcely a generation younger than Sophocles, his world view better reflects the political, social, and intellectual crises of late 5th-century Athens. Euripides' enormous range spans contradictory tendencies:  He was both a rationalist and a romanticist; he both criticized the traditional gods and celebrated religious phenomena He incorporated the new intellectual and scientific movements into his works but also conveyed the irresistible power of the irrational.  Original and experimental, he parodied the conventions of tragedy and also used new theories about the illusionist and deceptive powers of language.  He created tragicomic plots. His Alcestis and Hippolytus are his two great plays. We will notice many similarities in Euripidean plays. There are many similarities in Alcestis and Hippolytus and also have some dissimilarities. Comparative studies between these plays are discussed below.

In ancient Greek tragedy there has several parts—Prologue, Parados, Episode., the first Stasimon the second Episode, the second Stasimon, the third Episode, the third Stasimon, the fourth Episode, the fifth Stasimon and Exodos. The plot structures of both plays are same. In both play we find Prologue, Parados, Episode, the first Stasimon the second Episode, the second Stasimon, the third Episode, the third Stasimon, the fourth Episode, the fifth Stasimon and Exodos and also choral ode with strophe and antistrophe. In both play the unity of time, place and action have been maintained. Both plays are written in Iambic Pentameter.

Both Alcestis and Hippolytus open with prologue or monologue which is a common characteristic of Greek plays .In both plays the audience have lost their interest from the very beginning because everything has been told before in the prologue. The play Alcestis begins with the prologue of the god Apollo. Here Apollo stops death from taking the life of Admetus and predicts that Alcestis will die instead of Admetus. He also predicts that Alcestis’ life will be saved by Heracles, the demi god. Similarly the play Hippolytus also begins with the monologue of the goddess Aphrodite. In the play Aphrodite the goddess of love, is angry with Hippolytus because of his devotion to Artemis, the goddess of chastity and hunting. So she makes a plan to ruin the life of Hippolytus, phadra and Theseus as well. Chorus plays a very significant role in Greek plays. The appearance of chorus is mandatory in Greek plays. In the plays of Sophocles the chorus continually present on the stage. In Euripides the picture is quite different. His plays are relatively complex. He experienced difficulties in retaining chorus. In Alcestis The entry of the chorus, or the "parodos" sequence, follows: a chorus of fifteen men of Pherae, led by a "coryphaeus" (chorus-leader), enter the orchestra of the theatre. The chorus-leader complains that they are in a state of suspense, ignorant of whether they ought to be performing mourning rituals for their queen. The chorus' lyrical ode, to which they dance as they sing, consists of two paired stanzas of strophe and antistrophe. They sing of the silence that greets their search for signs of mourning, the evidence of Alcestis' death. "When goodness dies," they lament, "all good men suffer, too." The chorus-leader concludes by dismissing the chorus' search for hope in the situation: "The King has exhausted every ritual." The Chorus is significant here and active. They informed the audience about what is happening inside the palace. Unlike Seneca’s chorus, the chorus is very active and plays a very important role. In Hippolytus the chorus is composed of fifteen women of Troy. In this play the chorus is mostly passive. For in a Sophoclean play the chorus announces new comers. In Hippolytus the chorus is not as active as Sophoclean tragedy. They inform the audience of the death of his wife. But under no circumstances...
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