Friday, January 30, 2009

BC: Hippolytus to The Clouds

10-second Literature Reviews

428 BC. Hippolytus. Euripides. Greek. Play. Hippolytus enrages Aphrodite by scorning the love of women. She revenges by having Phaedra, his father’s wife, fall in love with him She hangs herself, leaving a note that Hippolytus violated her. Theseus curses Hippolytus, who dies after his horse is frightened by a bull. Artemis tells Theseus the truth. He laments. Hippolytus forgives him with his dying words.

427 BC. The Children of Heracles. Euripides, Greek. Play. Eurystheus, king of Argos, who forced Heracles to perform the 12 labors, persecutes his children after Heracles’ death. They are championed by old Iolaus, who is young for a day. Eurystheus is killed. Ulterior meaning: Athens championed Heracles, Sparta’s ancestor; Sparta should not be fighting Athens.

425 BC. Hecuba. Euripides. Greek. Play. Wife of Priam, mother of Hector, Hecuba sees all 50 of her children die except her daughter Polyxena, and her son Polydorus. Polymestor kills them. In revenge, she blinds him, kills his sons. Both antagonists are reduced to the same bestial level.

423 BC. The Knights. Aristophanes. Greek. Play. Topical and, therefore, less interesting to a modern audience. Remarkable for the freedom to attack the powerful Athenian demagogue Cleon.

423 BC. The Clouds. Aristophanes. Greek. Play. Equates Socrates with the Sophists, noted for the ability to use argument to prove any point. Socrates, however, believed that argument was only useful to arrive at the truth. A farmer’s son enrolls in Socrates’ school, the Thinkery, to learn to evade creditors through shrewd argument. However, the son turns his talent against his father. The old man regrets turning away from the old virtues and sets fire to the Thinkery.

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