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The Children of Heracles by Euripides
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The Children of Heracles

by Euripides

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The silent children of Herakles, under the care of a family retainer and harried from city to city by their hostile uncle, are cornered at a temple near Marathon and throw themselves on the mercy of Athens. The action develops rapidly - success, then reverse; threat, then reverse. Over and over again, the tables are turned, offering the audience a chance to judge what makes characters admirable: right action and equanimity, in good times and bad. The characters are cleanly drawn and offer strong contrasts with one another. The interpretive introduction by the translator is very helpful, offering vital context for understanding the meaning an ancient Greek audience would have attached to the various characters' speeches and actions. The introduction also suggests that, at the time it was first performed, (during the Pelopennesian War, with Athens locked in war with Sparta, whose rulers claimed descent from the children of Herakles) the play may have raised uncomfortable questions for Athenians of the extent to which the war had compromised Athenian values of hospitality and right conduct towards opponents. I'd love to see this play performed. ( )
  bezoar44 | Jul 9, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 019507288X, Paperback)

One of the shortest plays in Greek drama, The Children of Herakles offers enough action for two or three plays of normal length. But this very richness and complexity have made the play elusive, subject to dismissive readings, and extraordinarily difficult to translate; in consequence, it has suffered from neglect over the ages. This vibrant new translation makes clear that The Children of Herakles is actually a wonderfully well-crafted work of art, a play offering a wealth of rewards to the modern reader.
It is a play about war and the effects of war within the state. Herakles, the legendary hero cursed from birth, was never permitted a triumphant homecoming. Here, his descendants continue the effort to return home, seeking asylum from the persecution of the king who had imposed on Herakles the famous twelve labors. While it pursues concepts of deep moral grandeur, it ends with a denouement of astonishing physical and ethical brutality, and affords Euripides a severe comment on what he believed was the decline of the Athenian character.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:24 -0400)

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"Story of the children of Hercules who, persecuted by the Argive King Eurystheus, are sheltered by Athens. This extremely nationalistic play glorifies Athens while condemning the Spartan alliance" --Provided by publisher.

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