Claire's Reviews > The Trojan Women

The Trojan Women by Euripides
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Mar 20, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: theatre, favorite-books-ever, this-is-my-catholicism, five-stars, classic-lit
Recommended to Claire by: Dana Burgess
Recommended for: Everyone

As a theater major, I've spent an enormous chunk of my life reading and analyzing classical drama. There was a time when I could have broken down for you in great detail the stylistic differences between the three great Greek dramatists (Aeschylus, Sophocles & Euripides) and the great Greek comic playwright Aristophanes. But since I no longer have to, I won't.

I will say that I never took to the other two like I did to Euripides. He was the latest of the three, a product of an evolving social concept of the role of theater - instead of making proclamations at the audience, characters had conversations with each other. The language is simpler and less formal, a forerunner to modern drama, and the characters far more human.

I fell in love with this play because of how beautifully it depicts loss and grief. The characters are so vibrant and real, and their suffering so clearly depicted, that you forget you're reading something that's like 2500 years old. Even in the crappiest of translations, you feel like these characters are real people that you know, and your heart aches for the horrific things that have happened to them and the bleak gray future ahead of them.

The best moment of the whole play to me is a very brief exchange between Hecuba (former queen of Troy, whose husband and sons have all been murdered) and Menelaus (husband of Helen and one of the two Greek kings who led the war against Troy). They are bitter, violent enemies who hate each other and each other's people with a passion that will have consequences for generations. But in this one fleeting moment when Menelaus passes Hecuba on his way back to his ship, dragging Helen with her, they have a moment of connection in their anger towards Helen, who started the whole thing and is responsible for setting in motion the events that led to a ten-year siege and thousands of deaths on both sides. In that moment, as they realize that they both hate Helen more than each other, there's just a sliver of a hint at compassion on both sides, a realization that even though they're enemies, they understand the other's pain in a way that no one else does. Then the moment passes and they're enemies again, but that one moment changes the entire play for me. Gorgeous, heartbreaking stuff.

I also recommend "Medea", "The Bacchae" and "Iphegenia at Aulis."
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02/22/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Jen (new)

Jen It's on my wishlist after reading your review, thank you!


Ahad I read it as it was required reading for my course. Well, the striking thing about reading Euripides is that he introduces to us the most grimmest of human conditions and pushes us to considering ourselves in the exact same position, I mean what would we do if we were to face the same fate.


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