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The Tragic Heracles - Lec 13.docx

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Laura Jane Wey

The Tragic Heracles “Euripides’ Heracles” “Ted Hughes - Hercules and Dejanira” Monday October 29 , 2012 Euripides (circa. 480-406BC)  One of the 3 great Athenian tragedians  Won the City Dionysia 4 times during his lifetime +1 posthumous award  Known for realistic depiction of characters Heracles  Centers on Heracles’s least glorious deed o Returns home after his 12 labours o Been away for a long, long time o Family is about to go die o Heracles appears as a saviour  Rearranges sequence of events in Heracles’s history o Why he chooses to reverse events?  To come home from 12 labours  Then he kills wife and children o Fits tragedy much better o Heracles comes in high then falls o Beginning… he was a hero o Ends… as a human who has done wrong o Writing a tragedy about Heracles  Inserts the characters of Amphitryon and Theseus o Amphitryon – earthly father of Heracles o Theseus – Heracles saved Theseus when he was trapped in the Chair of Forgetfulness in the Underworld The Characterization of Heracles  Heracles the endure; his most heroic deeds, the Labors, formulated repeatedly as the labors that he endured  Saviour of Thebes  “endured” labours o “Is this that Heracles who endured so much? (1250)  Theseus and Heracles have visions of Heracles being really strong during his endurance o “Countless were the labors I endured” (1350) o “Oh my weapons, bitter partners of my life!” (1377)  Bear = enduring or putting up with something he was unhappy about, but has to live with it  Has to learn to bear things he finds unbearable  Vision of hero with negatively(not as visible) constructed virtue  Endurance = virtue o “All those labors I endured were less than these.” (1411)  Heracles the family man  Softer than the Heracles we envisioned o “What should I defend if not my wife and sons/and my old father?” (574)  Family man changing his orientation  Shows regret  Before this, he was more intent on pursuing the labours than in staying home and protecting his family o “I’ll take your hands and lead you in my wake, / like a ship that tows its little boats behind” (624)  Drops his weapons and takes his kids by the hand  Heracles the man of piety  Honours the gods  Regards them with necessary fear and deference that a man should have o “He alone held up the honors of the gods/ when they wilted at the hands of evil men.” (852-853)  Holds true to the expected  Perfect example of piety o Contrast between Theseus’s and Heracles’s views of the gods  “All men are flawed, / and so the gods…” (1314)  Accusing Heracles of extreme high moral self-standard  High self-standards= higher risk of thinking too high of yourself  Think yourself better than the gods  “If god is truly god, he is perfect, / lacking nothing.” (1341)  Has a lot more internal life… rather than a man of action with no thinking `` What good are men to me?” (1253) o Major theme in story  The two fathers: Zeus versus Amphitryon o “Let Zeus act to guard his interest in his son” (170)  Ask Zeus for help as he is the more powerful father o “For nothing, then, O Zeus, you shared my wife!” (339)  Accusing Zeus as being a horrible father even though he is immortal and powerful o “O Zeus, why have you hated him so much, / your own son? Why launched him on this sea of grief…” (1086-87)  Ch
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