Euripides Hippolytus Essay Online For Free

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Illustrate the importance of the themes of self-control, shame and desire in Euripides’ Hippolytus. How does Euripides connect these themes to the world of the Athenian audience?

Euripides’ Hippolytus (1972) is a paradoxical play that, at its heart, deals with the outcomes of conflicting human emotion. As Charles Segal suggests in his study Euripides and the Poetics of Sorrow (1993) commensurate with a great many of the playwright’s other works – Alcestis, Hecuba etc., Hippolytus examines the divisions and conflicts of male and female experience (and) all three also experiment with the limits of the tragic form (Segel, 1993: 3). There are no clear cut moral demarcations in Hippolytus,the ethical sense and movement of the piece is symbolised by the figures of Aphrodite and Artemis who straddle the drama both symbolically and physically being as they are present in both the first and last scenes. As we shall see,the outcomes of the narrative veer more towards a psychological questioning of what it is to be human than any moral proselytizing and the characters show both weakness and strength in their dealing with the Gods and their quixotic natures. With this in mind, in this essay I would like to look at this concept in Hippolytus but more specifically how it relates to the notions of self control, shame and desire, all subjects that form an integral part of the drama’s ultimate socio-ethical meaning. Firstly, I will look at the drama itself, attempting to illustrate and draw out instances of moral thinking within it, then I will move on to examine the ways in which these are blurred and made complicated by Euripides before going to suggest ways in which this might have been specifically tailored as both a critique and a lesson to the contemporary Athenian audience. Aristotle, in his Poetics(1965) calls Euripides our most tragic of poets (1965: 49) chiefly through the misfortune that befalls many of his leading characters at the conclusions of his dramas. However, Aristotle also criticises Euripides for the faulty management of other aspects of the plot, and the moral and ethical position of his characters must be one of these. Let us, for instance, consider the character of Hippolytus himself. On the surface, he seems to fulfil the rubric set by Aristotle that states a tragic hero must be better than average (Aristotle,1965: 52) in terms of morality and humanity; Hippolytus is a follower of Artemis, the Greek goddess of constancy and self control, as is stated by Aphrodite in the opening passages: that son of Theseus born of the Amazon, Hippolytus, who holy Pitteus taught, alone of the all the dwellers in this land of Rroezen, calls me the vilest of the deities. Love he scorns, and , as for marriage, will none of it. (Euripides, 1972: 225) It is this self control that is the main focus of the play, as Hippolytus is shown to be, as Aristotle states of better than average moral worth. However, there are subtle psychological suggestions that beneath the external veneer of moral constancy,

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