Euripides, Hippolytus 469-472
“…you have fallen into so much misfortune
How could you imagine you’d break free of it?
But if in the end you have more good than ill
You’d certainly be lucky enough as a human being.”
ἐς δὲ τὴν τύχην
πεσοῦσ᾿ ὅσην σύ, πῶς ἂν ἐκνεῦσαι δοκεῖς;
ἀλλ᾿ εἰ τὰ πλείω χρηστὰ τῶν κακῶν ἔχεις,
ἄνθρωπος οὖσα κάρτα γ᾿ εὖ πράξειας ἄν.
Euripides, Hippolytus 361-368
“Did you hear it? Did you hear
The queen speak aloud sufferings
One must neever speak?
May I die, my friend, before
I think your thoughts. My gods,
How pitiful you are from these pains.
Oh, all the toils that nourish mortals.
You are ruined—you have introduced evils to the light.
What can await you in this nearly endless day?”
ἄιες ὤ, ἔκλυες ὤ,
τυράννου πάθεα μέλεα θρεομένας;
ὀλοίμαν ἔγωγε πρὶν σᾶν, φίλα,
κατανύσαι φρενῶν. ἰώ μοι, φεῦ φεῦ·
ὦ τάλαινα τῶνδ᾿ ἀλγέων·
ὦ πόνοι τρέφοντες βροτούς.
ὄλωλας, ἐξέφηνας ἐς φάος κακά.
τίς σε παναμέριος ὅδε χρόνος μένει;
Euripides, Hippolytus 161-169
“Women have an ill-fit harmony in their lives:
Their suffering lives alongside
The miserable helplessnesss of labor pains
This breath escaped out of my womb
So I cried out to the heavenly aid
The queen of arrows
My much envied visitor among the gods:
φιλεῖ δὲ τᾷ δυστρόπῳ γυναικῶν
δύστανος ἀμηχανία συνοικεῖν
ὠδίνων τε καὶ ἀφροσύνας.
δι᾿ ἐμᾶς ᾖξέν ποτε νηδύος ἅδ᾿
αὔρα· τὰν δ᾿ εὔλοχον οὐρανίαν
τόξων μεδέουσαν ἀύτευν
Ἄρτεμιν, καί μοι πολυζήλωτος αἰεὶ
σὺν θεοῖσι φοιτᾷ.
The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ with discussion and interpretation during our time of isolation and social distancing. As Paul O’Mahony, whose idea this whole thing was said in an earlier blog post, Since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.”
Each week we select scenes from a play, actors and experts from around the world, and put them all together for 90 minutes or so to see what will happen. This process is therapeutic for us; and it helps us think about how tragedy may have had similar functions in the ancient world as well.
Euripides, Hippolytus 293-296
“If you suffer a sickness that is one of those we can’t mention,
These are women who can help take care of the disease.
If your suffering is open to discussion with men,
Tell us so we can share this deed with some doctors.”
κεἰ μὲν νοσεῖς τι τῶν ἀπορρήτων κακῶν,
γυναῖκες αἵδε συγκαθιστάναι νόσον·
εἰ δ᾿ ἔκφορός σοι συμφορὰ πρὸς ἄρσενας,
λέγ᾿, ὡς ἰατροῖς πρᾶγμα μηνυθῇ τόδε.
Euripides’Hippolytus takes us away from the stories of Agamemnon’s family and the Trojan War and takes us to some of the local tales of Attica. He tells the story of Theseus and his son Hippolytus, a product of Theseus’ rape of Hippolyta. The action of the play is in Troezen where Thesus is in exile for murder. Hippolytus has declared himself celebate and to punish him, Aphrodite has made his stepmother Phaedra fall in love with him.
This play was performed as part of a trilogy in 428 and won first prize. It is also not the only time Euripides turned to this topic. An ancient scholar writes that “this is the second Hippolytus, also called “the wreathed”. It appears it was written later. For it corrects what was improper and worthy of accusation in the earlier play” (τερος ᾿Ιοφῶν, τρίτος ῎Ιων. ἔστι δὲ οὗτος ῾Ιππόλυτος δεύτερος <ὁ> καὶ στεφανίας προσαγορευόμενος. ἐμφαίνεται δὲ ὕστερος γεγραμμένος· τὸ γὰρ ἀπρεπὲς καὶ κατηγορίας ἄξιον ἐν τούτῳ διώρθωται τῷ δράματι. τὸ ).
According to scholarly traditions, Hippolytus was famed for his wisdom as well has his beauty and this play sets forces of prudence and self-discipline against desire and pleasure. Of course, since this is Euripides, it is not as simple as that: each character struggles with their impulses and their incomplete knowledge, struggling to be better and punished for trying to be something they are not.
Euripides, Hippolytus 653-655
“I am going to clean out everything I just heard
From my ears with running water. How could I be bad when
I feel dirty just hearing these kinds of things?”
ἁγὼ ῥυτοῖς νασμοῖσιν ἐξομόρξομαι
ἐς ὦτα κλύζων. πῶς ἂν οὖν εἴην κακός,
ὃς οὐδ᾿ ἀκούσας τοιάδ᾿ ἁγνεύειν δοκῶ;
Scenes (using Ian Johnston’s translation)
Euripides, Hippolytus 916-920
“O humanity, why do you fuck up pointlessly so often?
Why do you teach countless skills
And contrive and invent every kind of thing,
But fail to understand or even pursue at all
How to teach people to think when they are mindless?!”
ὦ πόλλ᾿ ἁμαρτάνοντες ἄνθρωποι μάτην,
τί δὴ τέχνας μὲν μυρίας διδάσκετε
καὶ πάντα μηχανᾶσθε κἀξευρίσκετε,
ἓν δ᾿ οὐκ ἐπίστασθ᾿ οὐδ᾿ ἐθηράσασθέ πω,
φρονεῖν διδάσκειν οἷσιν οὐκ ἔνεστι νοῦς;
Special Guest, Eirene Visvardi
Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Associate Director: Liz Fisher
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Dramaturg: Emma Pauly
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Poster Artist: John Koelle
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris 821-824
“…I look over a sea of suffering, poor one,
So large that it is impossible to swim free again
Or to cross over the wave of this sorrow.”
κακῶν δ᾿, ὦ τάλας, πέλαγος εἰσορῶ
τοσοῦτον ὥστε μήποτ᾿ ἐκνεῦσαι πάλιν
μηδ᾿ ἐκπερᾶσαι κῦμα τῆσδε συμφορᾶς
Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)
Aeschylus, Suppliants September 2nd
Euripides, Electra September 9th
Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes September 16th
Euripides, Hippolytus 486-489
“This is the very thing that lays low the well-lived cities
And homes of mortals: excessively attractive words!
You must not utter things to entice the ears at all
But rather whatever plan will bring us good fame!”
τοῦτ᾿ ἔσθ᾿ ὃ θνητῶν εὖ πόλεις οἰκουμένας
δόμους τ᾿ ἀπόλλυσ᾿, οἱ καλοὶ λίαν λόγοι.
οὐ γάρ τι τοῖσιν ὠσὶ τερπνὰ χρὴ λέγειν
ἀλλ᾿ ἐξ ὅτου τις εὐκλεὴς γενήσεται.
Euripides, Ion, June 17th
Euripides, Hecuba June 24th
Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound June 30th
Aristophanes, Clouds July 15th
Euripides, Hippolytus July 22nd
Euripides, Hippolytus 176-198
“Oh, for mortal kind suffering and hateful diseases!
What will I do? What won’t I do?
This is your light, your bright sky-
Already outside lies
Your sick bed.
Coming here was your every word,
Quickly you will rush to go back again,
And quickly you will slip and delight in nothing.
Nothing present pleases you, what is absent
You hold more dear.
It is better to suffer sickness than tend to it.
The first is simple but the other unites
Anguish of thoughts with labor’s hands.
Human life is only pain
And there is no respite from labors.
Anything at all dearer to us than life
Darkness embraces and hides in shadows.
Then we show ourselves to be unlucky lovers
Of whatever shines clear for a bit on the earth
Because of our ignorance of any other life at all.
There’s no revelation of the afterlife.
We are carried along by nothing but stories.”
ὦ κακὰ θνητῶν στυγεραί τε νόσοι·
τί σ᾿ ἐγὼ δράσω; τί δὲ μὴ δράσω;
τόδε σοι φέγγος, λαμπρὸς ὅδ᾿ αἰθήρ,
ἔξω δὲ δόμων ἤδη νοσερᾶς
δεῦρο γὰρ ἐλθεῖν πᾶν ἔπος ἦν σοι,
τάχα δ᾿ ἐς θαλάμους σπεύσεις τὸ πάλιν.
ταχὺ γὰρ σφάλλῃ κοὐδενὶ χαίρεις,
οὐδέ σ᾿ ἀρέσκει τὸ παρόν, τὸ δ᾿ ἀπὸν
κρεῖσσον δὲ νοσεῖν ἢ θεραπεύειν·
τὸ μέν ἐστιν ἁπλοῦν, τῷ δὲ συνάπτει
λύπη τε φρενῶν χερσίν τε πόνος.
πᾶς δ᾿ ὀδυνηρὸς βίος ἀνθρώπων
κοὐκ ἔστι πόνων ἀνάπαυσις.
ἀλλ᾿ ὅ τι τοῦ ζῆν φίλτερον ἄλλο
σκότος ἀμπίσχων κρύπτει νεφέλαις.
δυσέρωτες δὴ φαινόμεθ᾿ ὄντες
τοῦδ᾿ ὅ τι τοῦτο στίλβει κατὰ γῆν
δι᾿ ἀπειροσύνην ἄλλου βιότου
κοὐκ ἀπόδειξιν τῶν ὑπὸ γαίας,
μύθοις δ᾿ ἄλλως φερόμεσθα.