The Spicy Lotus

December 23, 2009

Histories, Herodotus

Filed under: Classic,Greek — pha9 @ 4:15 pm

The Histories of Herodotus is considered one of the seminal works of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known in the Mediterranean and Asia at that time. It is not an impartial record but it remains one of the West’s most important sources regarding these affairs. Moreover, it established without precedent the genre and study of history in the Western world, although historical records and chronicles existed beforehand.

Perhaps most importantly, it stands as one of the first, and surviving, accounts of the rise of the Persian Empire, the events of, and causes for, the Greco-Persian Wars between the Achaemenid Empire and the Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. Herodotus portrays the conflict as one between the forces of slavery (the Persians) on the one hand, and freedom (the Athenians and the confederacy of Greek city-states which united against the invaders) on the other.

December 16, 2009

The Bacchae, Euripides

Filed under: Classic,Greek — pha9 @ 4:34 pm

The Bacchae (Greek: Βάκχαι / Bakchai; also known as The Bacchantes) is an ancient Greek tragedy by the Athenian playwright Euripides, during his final years in Macedon, at the court of Archelaus I of Macedon. It premiered posthumously at the Theatre of Dionysus in 405 BCE as part of a tetralogy that also included Iphigeneia at Aulis, and which Euripides’ son or nephew probably directed.[1] It won first prize in the City Dionysia festival competition.

The tragedy is based on the mythological story of King Pentheus of Thebes and his mother Agavë, and their punishment by the god Dionysus (who is Pentheus’ cousin) for refusing to worship him.

December 12, 2009

Hippolytus, Euripides

Filed under: Classic,Greek,Play — pha9 @ 3:09 pm

Hippolytus (Ancient Greek: Ἱππόλυτος / Hippolytos) is an Ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides, based on the myth of Hippolytus, son of Theseus. The play was first produced for the City Dionysia of Athens in 428 BC and won first prize as part of a trilogy.

Euripides first treated the myth in Hippolytos Kalyptomenos (Hippolytus Veiled), now lost. Scholars are virtually unanimous in believing that the contents to the missing Kalyptomenos portrayed a shamelessly lustful Phaedra who directly propositions Hippolytus, to the displeasure of the audience.

This failure prompted Euripides to revisit the myth in Hippolytos Stephanophoros (“Hippolytus who wears a crown”), this time with a modest Phaedra who fights her sexual appetites. The surviving play offers a much more even-handed and psychologically complex treatment of the characters than is commonly found in traditional retelling of myths.

The gods play a very important role in Hippolytus, framing the action. Aphrodite appears at the beginning and Artemis at the end, and they were possibly represented onstage throughout the action in the form of statues. These two goddesses can be taken as representing the conflicting emotions of passion and chastity.

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