On Euripides and War: An Historical Analysis of Hecuba, Trojan Women, and Iphegenia at Aulis
History is written. It did not happen. What did happen can only be described and recorded. Of the records that exist today society judges which are "fact," which are and which are "fictional." One striking feature that all records share is a preoccupation with war. This is not surprising, however, since a convolution of all records during a specific time span will show that somewhere war was being waged. What exactly this says about humanity is not here discussed. Instead, a singular instance of one particular consequence of war is discussed. War is waged by humans, that is to say, war is effected by humans. Humans are in turn affected by war. The record of these affects is incomplete because the affects are infinitely numerous, interconnected, and subtle. Consequently, some humans have tried to make sense of these affects through means other than records and standard analysis. One such instance is Euripides, the ancient Greek dramaturge.
Euripides, who lived from 480-406 B.C., is said to have been born on the day of the Battle of Salamis; a great victory for Athens. During his lifetime, Athens was often at war. Three of his several works that deal with war were written during or just after the Peloponnesian war; a war that lasted most of Eurpides' life. Hecuba was written in 426 B.C., Trojan Women was written in 416 B.C., and Iphegenia at Aulis was written around 407 B.C.; each is a reaction to some particular part of the abstracted idea of war. Critics throughout the past have acknowledged the greatness of these works. Many wish to lift the plays out of historical context, contending that the themes found therein are universal and a historical analysis is unnecessary. This is largely true. The Hecuba, for example, explores ideas about revenge, justice, and friendship; each of those ideas can be investigated outside of history. However, to ignore the fact that...
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