'.'1
Introduction
This book explores how Euripides' poetic imagination shaped his
vision of tragedy in three plays: Alcestis, Hippolytus, and Hecuba. The
first two have long been recognized as masterpieces of Greek drama
and remain among the most discussed works of Greek literature.
Hecuba, neglected in this century, has recently begun to regain the
high esteem it enjoyed from antiquity through the sixteenth century.
1
All three plays belong to the early phase of Euripides' maturity. The
Alcestis was presented in 438
B.C.,
the Hippolytus in 428, and the Hecuba
probably in the mid-420S. All three examine the divisions and con-
flicts of male and female experience. All three also experiment with
the limits of the tragic form. Alcestis combines tragedy and the satyr
play and, in what is still the most economical explanation for its
peculiarities, was probably presented in place of the satyr play that
usually followed the three tragedies at the dramatic festivals.
2
Hippo-
lytus not only introduces a new kind of tragic protagonist-a male
virginal devotee of Artemis with mystical tendencies
3
-but, like Al-
cestis, resumes Aeschylus' bold device in the Eumenides, presented
thirty years earlier, framing the action by the conflict of two divine
powers who appear onstage. Hecuba is the only extant tragedy to
begin with a ghost; yet, after this striking opening, divinity com-
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