and the Value of Human Life
In Euripides' drama, the story of Hecuba takes place near Troy,
while the war's ashes are still smoldering. Hecuba is the old widow
of the Phrygian king Priam, the fallen queen of Troy, who has lost
not only her husband, but also her entire family, country, freedom,
love, friendship, dignity, faith, prosperity, and everything that
once made her life meaningful. Although she is a woman of noble
origin and extraordinary past, at the play's opening, she is represented
as weak, miserable, devastated, and progressively dehumanized. In
a world of hypocrisy, ruthlessness, demagoguery, expedience, ingratitude,
betrayal, cynicism, indifference, realpolitik, and calculation,
she is pushed to the edge and she turns violent. At the end, she
appears as something monstrous, frightful, and incomprehensible.
Yet, Hecuba's drama still moves us. But this is not against incredulity,
as Page had once commented, but on the contrary, because her world
resembles so much our own. In this seminar, we will explore Euripides'
purpose in representing Hecuba the way he does, and we will seek
to understand the dramatist's message to his fellow Athenians and
to all of us.