Monday, 11 March 2013

The Trojan Women: Mother and Daughters

The Trojan Women by Euripides opens with a meeting between Poseidon and Athena, two deities that agree to bring calamities upon Troy conquerors, who are so sure about themselves. The story then moves to the Trojan women, namely, Hecuba the queen and her daughters and daughter-in-law.

Hecuba mourned the death of her husband and sons, then inquired what would happen to her and her daughters. Talthybius, the messenger, informed her that Cassandra would be Agamemnon's wife, Andromache would be Neoptolemus' (also known as Phyrrus) wife, Polyxena would serve at Achiles' tomb, and she would be Odysseus' slave.

Then Cassandra came, bearing a prophecy of Agamemnon's death and riot in his family, she also prophesied that Odyssus would face so many troubles on his way home and that Hecuba herself would die in Troy (but due to her curse, of course no one believed her).

Next Andromache came, with her son Astyanax. She told Hecuba that Polyxena was dead. She wailed her fate of becoming Phyrrus' wife, fearing that by becoming another's she betrayed the memory of her husband, Hector. Hecuba encouraged her to continue her life. Talthybis came back, telling them that Astyanax should be put to death. Andromache complied with a heavy heart.

After that, Menelaus came, taking Helen back with him to Sparta. He promised Hecuba that he would kill her, but we know better.

Overall, this is perhaps the most touching Greek play I've ever laid my hands on. The emotion expressed, especially by Hecuba and Andromache, touches me deeply. It might be because I myself am a woman, I can relate more to these ladies than to the heroes (fond as I am of them). Perhpas my favourite part is Andromache's words when she bewails her fate and weeps for Hector, whilst remembering that she would soon be Phyrrus' wife.

And if I set aside my love for Hector, and ope my heart to this new lord, I shall appear a traitress to the dead, while, if I hate him, I shall incur my master's displeasure. And yet they say a single night removes a woman's dislike for her husband; nay, I do hate the woman who, when she hath lost her former lord, transfers her love by marrying another. Not e'en the horse, if from his fellow torn, will cheerfully draw the yoke; and yet the brutes have neither speech nor sense to help them, and are by nature man's inferiors. O Hector mine! in thee I found a husband amply dowered with wisdom, noble birth and fortune, a brave man and a mighty; whilst thou didst take me from my father's house a spotless bride, thyself the first to make this maiden wife. But now death hath claimed thee, and I to Hellas am soon to sail, a captive doomed to wear the yoke of slavery.

I'd give this play a great applause, could I watch it on stage.


  1. wow.. so the trojan is not only name after the virus, but also the woman? hehe..

    well, i tried to read a play, but i never stand for it. I am get bored easily reading it. but i like this blog at least to feed me the review about it.

    tks for being kilasbuku's friend, mbak. and tks for visiting the blog. btw, i find the weekend quote is interesting. so, count me in then. :)


    1. You're very welcome. Actually, it's the virus that gets the name from Troy, a city which destruction is told in Homer's Illiad. The Trojan Women talks about the fate of the ladies of Troy, whose husbands had died in the war.

      By the way, thanks for joining us on Weekend Quote. Love to read your posts.

  2. I read a fair amount of Euripides in high school, but I never read The Trojan Women. I want to pick it up now, especially since you found it so moving.

  3. I used to be fond of Greek myths, I'll add this one to my list