As in Aeschylus' Persians, Euripides takes the bold step of focusing on the suffering of those defeated at the hands of the Greeks. It may seem unjust that in the Prologue the gods determine that the Greeks shall have to suffer, but in the course of the play the inhuman behaviour of the victorious Greek army shows that they deserve everything that the gods have preordained. Euripides was also warning his contemporary Athenians: the previous year they had dealt brutally with the citizens of Melos, massacring all its adult men and enslaving its women and children. Here, in a series of powerfully dramatic episodes, the group of desolate, powerless women gain in moral stature what they cannot achieve in actual power. Because its theme of the sufferings caused by war has resonated down the centuries, Trojan Women is, together with Medea, one of the most frequently performed of Euripides' plays and has reappeared in later versions, notably by Seneca (1st c. ad) and by Franz Werfel (1916), in which Hecabe must endure the ultimate loss of freedom by being restrained from committing suicide in the flames of Troy. In 1965 Sartre adapted Euripides' play as a comment on France's colonial war in Algeria.
Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).
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Euripides (c. 485—406 bc) Greek dramatist