WATCHING A FILM OR READING A SUMMARY OF “THE TROJAN WOMEN” BY EURIPIDES CAN HELP DECODE “WOMEN OF OWU” FOR WAEC/NECO EXAMS (59)

THIS SLIDESHOW FEATURES PICS FROM DIFFERENT MOVIES AND STAGE PLAYS OF TROJAN WOMEN OR WOMEN OF OWU

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MAIN CHARACTERS AND GREEK EQUIVALENTS

The following characters in WOMEN OF OWU represent the named characters in THE TROJAN WOMEN BELOW (The Greek equivalents are shown in brackets)

Anlugbua (Poseidon) –  Erelu Afin (Hecuba) –  Chorus Leaders (Chorus)– Gesinde (Talthybius) –  Orisaye (Cassandra) – Lawumi (Athene) –  Adumaadan (Andromache)  Okunade (Menelaus)- Iyunloye (Helen) – Chorus played by all members of the cast of WOMEN OF OWU

THE TROJAN WOMEN (NOTES 1)

Written by- Euripides

Chorus-Trojan women

Characters-Hecuba,Cassandra,Andromache,Talthybius,Menelaus,Helen,Poseidon,Athena

Place premiered-Athens

Original language-Ancient Greek

Genre-Tragedy

Setting-Near the walls of Troy

The Trojan Women also known as Troades, is a tragedy by the Greek playwright Euripides. Produced in 415 BC during the Peloponnesian War, it is often considered a commentary on the capture of the Aegean island of Melos and the subsequent slaughter and subjugation of its populace by the Athenians earlier that year (see History of Milos). 415 BC was also the year of the scandalous desecration of the hermai and the Athenians’ second expedition to Sicily, events which may also have influenced the author.

The Trojan Women was the third tragedy of a trilogy of dealing with the Trojan War. The first tragedy, Alexandros, was about the recognition of the Trojan prince Paris who had been abandoned in infancy by his parents and rediscovered in adulthood. The second tragedy, Palamedes, dealt with Greek mistreatment of their fellow Greek Palamedes. This trilogy was presented at the Dionysia along with the comedic satyr play Sisyphos. The plots of this trilogy were not connected in the way that Aeschylus’ Oresteia was connected. Euripides did not favor such connected trilogies.

Euripides won second prize at the City Dionysia for his effort, losing to the obscure tragedian Xenocles.

The four Trojan women of the play are the same that appear in the final book of the Iliad lamenting over the corpse of Hector. Taking place near the same time is Hecuba, another play by Euripides.

Plot
Hecuba: Alas! Alas! Alas! Ilion is ablaze; the fire consumes the citadel, the roofs of our city, the tops of the walls!
Chorus: Like smoke blown to heaven on the wings of the wind, our country, our conquered country, perishes. Its palaces are overrun by the fierce flames and the murderous spear.
Hecuba: O land that reared my children!

Euripides’s play follows the fates of the women of Troy after their city has been sacked, their husbands killed, and as their remaining families are about to be taken away as slaves. However, it begins first with the gods Athena and Poseidon discussing ways to punish the Greek armies because they condoned Ajax the Lesser for raping Cassandra, the eldest daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, after dragging her from a statue of Athena. What follows shows how much the Trojan women have suffered as their grief is compounded when the Greeks dole out additional deaths and divide their shares of women.

The Greek herald Talthybius arrives to tell the dethroned queen Hecuba what will befall her and her children. Hecuba will be taken away with the Greek general Odysseus, and Cassandra is destined to become the conquering general Agamemnon’s concubine.

Cassandra, who has been driven partially mad due to a curse by which she can see the future but will never be believed when she warns others, is morbidly delighted by this news: she sees that when they arrive in Argos, her new master’s embittered wife Clytemnestra will kill both her and her new master. However, because of the curse, no one understands this response, and Cassandra is carried off.

The widowed princess Andromache arrives and Hecuba learns from her that her youngest daughter, Polyxena, has been killed as a sacrifice at the tomb of the Greek warrior Achilles.
Andromache’s lot is to be the concubine of Achilles’ son Neoptolemus and more horrible news for the royal family is yet to come: Talthybius reluctantly informs her that her baby son, Astyanax, has been condemned to die. The Greek leaders are afraid that the boy will grow up to avenge his father Hector, and rather than take this chance, they plan to throw him off from the battlements of Troy to his death.

Helen, though not one of the Trojan women, is supposed to suffer greatly as well: Menelaus arrives to take her back to Greece with him where a death sentence awaits her. Helen begs/seduces her husband to spare her life and he remains resolved to kill her, but the audience watching the play knows that he will let her live and take her back. Not only is it revealed at the end of the play that she lives, but also in the Odyssey Telemachus will learn how Helen’s legendary beauty wins her a reprieve.

In the end, Talthybius returns carrying with him the body of little Astyanax on Hector’s shield. Andromache’s wish had been to bury her child herself, performing the proper rituals according to Trojan ways, but her ship had already departed. Talthybius gives the corpse to Hecuba, who prepares the body of her grandson for burial before they are finally taken off with Odysseus.

Throughout the play, many of the Trojan women lament the loss of the land that reared them. Hecuba in particular lets it be known that Troy had been her home for her entire life, only to see herself as an old grandmother watching the burning of Troy, the death of her husband, her children, and her grandchildren before she will be taken as a slave to Odysseus

THE TROJAN WOMEN (NOTES 2)

A synopsis of the tragedy by Euripides

Before the ruined walls of ancient Troy, a few days after the battle in which King Menelaus of

Sparta, and Agamemnon, general of the Greeks, had taken the city, there appears dimly in the

early dawn the mourning figure of the god, Poseidon. Bodies of dead warriors lie before the huts

of the captive women who await disposition among the Greek leaders, and a tall, white-haired

woman is sleeping on the ground–it is Hecuba, Queen of Troy, the wife of Priam and mother of

Hector and Paris.

Poseidon laments the destruction of the Trojan wall which he and Apollo had built, and cries that

Priam lies unburied by his own hearth while the captive women wail and the victors await the

winds that will take them to their homes. He reflects that Helen, the wife of Menelaus whom

Paris had brought to Troy, also awaits in a hut, a prize of war; that Hecuba’s child, Polyxena, has

been secretly slain and Priam and his sons are gone, while her daughter Cassandra, the virgin

seeress beloved of Apollo, has been marked as the prize of Agamemnon.

The goddess, Pallas Athena, appears, and with Poseidon conspires to destroy the home-going

Greek ships in revenge. Poseidon cries to the conquerors: “How are ye blind, ye treaders down of

cities, ye that cast temples to desolation, and lay waste tombs, the untrodden sanctuaries where

lie the ancient dead; yourselves so soon to die!” The dawn comes, and Hecuba awakens to mourn

her tragic fate and curse Helen as the cause. The other captive women rise to echo her cries.

But even more crushing news is unwillingly brought by the Greek herald, Talthybius. He informs

Hecuba that Cassandra is to be the bride of Agamemnon, hints that Polyxena is dead, and

reveals that Andromache, the wife of Hector, is to be the prize of Pyrrhus, Achilles’ son; Hecuba

herself is fated to be the slave of the despised Odysseus, King of Ithaca.

Cassandra appears, bearing a torch and walking as in a dream in her bridal garlands. She chants

dire prophecies of the Greeks’ empty victory, with death for Agamemnon and “the dark

wanderings” of mother-murder that shall destroy the house of Atreus. She becomes conscious of

the awed Talthybius, and, tearing off her garlands, goes to “the house of Death to lie beside my

bridegroom,” with a final word of comfort for her city and for Hecuba, who collapses to the

ground,broken in grief.

A chariot approaches from the town, laden with spoils and bearing a mourning woman who

holds a child in her arms–Andromache, the widow of Hector, and her baby, Astyanax.

Andromache, crying her grief to Hecuba, calls down God’s wrath on Paris “who sold for his evil

love Troy and the towers thereof.” She confirms to the agonized Hecuba that Polyxena has been

slain at Achilles’ tomb.

Andromache asks how she can become the wife of Achilles’ son without shame to herself and

her beloved Hector, but Hecuba counsels that she honor her new lord and thus, perhaps, be

permitted to rear Astyanax as a future saviour of Ilion. But the gentle Talthybius returns with

news that Odysseus has prevailed in council, and ordered that the child is to be dashed to death

from the wall; if Andromache casts a curse upon the Greek ships, the baby is to have no burial.

The stricken mother, calling a curse upon Helen, addresses her baby:

“Go, die, my best-beloved, my cherished one,
In fierce men’s hands, leaving me here alone…. Weepest thou?
Nay, why, my little one? Thou canst not know.
And father will not come; he will not come….
How shall it be? One horrible spring … deep, deep
Down. And thy neck … Ah, God, so cometh sleep!…
And none to pity thee!… Thou little thing
That curlest in my arms, what sweet scents cling
All around thy neck; now, kiss me, lips to lips….
Quick! Take him: drag him: cast him from the wall….
To the bridal … I have lost my child, my own!”

Andromache, half swooning, is driven to the ships, and a soldier bears the child to his death.

Then enters King Menelaus, a prey to violent and conflicting emotions, with his rich arms and his

bodyguard. He declares that he came not for the accursed Helen but for “the thief” Paris “who

stole away my bride.” He discloses that Helen is his prize of war, to be killed, or led home, and

shall be cast out to angry death at the hands of his slain soldiers’ families. He orders:

“Up into the chambers where she croucheth!

 Grip the long, blood-reeking hair, and drag her to mine eyes!”

Hecuba is pleading that he slay her forthwith, else she will ensnare him again, when Helen

passes through the ranks of soldiers, gentle and unafraid, her raiment carefully ordered. She

asks to prove her innocence, and at a plea of Hecuba, who is prepared to answer her, is allowed

to speak.She says that she was bewitched by the goddess, Cypris, to flee with Paris and, once the

spell was broken, had repeatedly striven to escape to Menelaus; she begs her husband’s harbour

and comfort.

Hecuba derides her story of enchantment and capture by force, declares she spurred Paris to his

doom through her own vain ambitions, and challenges the claim that she has attempted to

escape. She and the other captives appeal for Helen’s death, and Menelaus turns fiercely upon

his wife; but when she kneels and wreathes her arms about his knees, he merely orders her put

aboard a ship other than his own, swearing that she shall die upon the return to Sparta. She

goes, followed by the prayers of the captive women that she, “with mirror of gold, decking her

face so fair, girl-like,” shall die at sea.

Talthybius returns, bearing the body of Astyanax; he tells Hecuba that Andromache has asked

that the baby be buried upon the great bronze shield of his father. He goes to prepare a grave,

and Hecuba cries out her sorrow anew over the broken body of her grandson. She wraps him in

burial raiment, and the wailing women bear the body off on Hector’s shield as flames rise in the

city’s ruins. Hecuba tries to die in the fire, but is restrained by the soldiers.

Hecuba, with the other captive women, laments their plight to the dead:

“O Earth, Earth of my children; hearken! and O mine own,
Ye have hearts and forget not, ye in the darkness lying!
Surely my knees are weary, but I kneel above your head;
Hearken, O ye so silent! My hands beat your bed!
Even as the beasts they drive, even as the loads they bear,
We go to the house of bondage. Hear, ye dead, O hear!”

A great crash is heard, and the city wall is lost in smoke and darkness. A trumpet sounds, and the

captive women go “forth to the long Greek ships and the sea’s foaming.”

THE TROJAN WOMEN (NOTES 3)

In 416 b.c.e., the Athenian empire, at war against Sparta, captured the neutral island of Melos in

the Aegean Sea. Punishing the Melians for their resistance, the Athenians killed all the men who

remained on the island and reduced the women and children to slavery. This act of unprovoked

aggression turned Euripides against the Athenian cause in the Peloponnesian War, a cause that

he had earlier supported. For example, his negative depiction of the Corinthians in the Medea,

written during the first year of the war, may be traced in large part to the alliance that existed

between Corinth and Sparta. Fifteen years later, however, Euripides has shifted from seeing the

Spartans and their allies as the enemy to seeing war itself as the enemy.

The structure of The Trojan Women is episodic. That is to say, it does not so much tell a

continuous story as depict a series of individual and discrete scenes. The sum total of the

episodes is not a plot, as in standard narrative tragedy, but an impression. The impression that

Euripides sought to convey in The Trojan Women is that war is unspeakably horrible. The author

attempted in the various scenes of this tragedy to depict the suffering that war causes even for

those innocents who do not fight in it, innocents such as women, children, and the elderly.

Unity is provided in the drama by the continual presence of Hecuba. In her person are

represented..

The Trojan Women is a masterpiece of pathos as well as a timeless and chilling indictment of the

brutality of war. The circumstances of its composition, and the raging moral indignation behind

it, refer to an incident in the Peloponnesian War that occurred a few months before the tragedy

was presented in March, 415 b.c.e. The people of Melos tried to remain neutral in the Athenian

conflict with Sparta, and Athens responded by massacring the grown males and enslaving the

women and children. In The Trojan Women Euripides shows Troy after the men were

slaughtered, with a handful of women waiting to be taken into bondage. The parallel is clear and

painful. Euripides does not stop with that. The women in their anguish show dignity, pride, and

compassion,whereas their conquerors are vain, unscrupulous, and empty. Further, the

conquering Greeks are shown to be headed for disaster, since the gods have turned against

them. When this play was produced, Athens was preparing a large fleet to take over Sicily, an

expedition that ended in calamity. The prophecies of sea disasters in the play no doubt made the

Athenian audience squirm. Indeed, the whole tragedy seems calculated to sting the consciences

of the Athenians.That they allowed it to be produced is amazing. The fact that a nonentity named

Xenocles won first prize that year, defeating Euripides, is scarcely surprising.

After the fall of Troy to the Greek invading army, the Trojan women weep over their lost city,

families, and honour, as they are taken away as Greek slaves.

Written by Rafael Prata

 WATCHING A FILM OR READING A SUMMARY OF "THE TROJAN WOMEN" BY EURIPIDES CAN HELP DECODE "WOMEN OF OWU" FOR WAEC/NECO EXAMS (59)

TrojanWomen Movie

THE TROJAN WOMEN (NOTES 4)

Hecuba and the other women of Troy rise to find their city in ruins and their cause lost. The city

has fallen into Greek hands and it is likely their lot to become slaves of Greek soldiers. A

messenger approaches to inform them that the lots have been drawn and each woman will be

taken to the man who drew for her. Of particular interest is Hecuba’s daughter, Cassandra, who

ischosen for the Greek kings bedchamber. She has received word of this news already and is in

hiding because she has sworn an oath to the gods that she will live as a virgin. When she is found

she has some particularly nasty things to say about treatment at Greek hands.

Written by Lordship <lordship@juno.com>

THE TROJAN WOMEN (NOTES 5)

Play begins with Poseidon lamenting the death of his city, telling us that all the heroes of Troy are

dead and now all that remains is for the Greeks to share out the women as spoils of war. Athene

appears, telling Poseidon that she is angry with the Greeks for defiling her temple during the

sacking of Troy, and the two gods make a pact to cause the Greeks sorrow on their voyages

home.

Next we see Hecuba, widow of Priam, sitting in Agamemnon’s tent lamenting her fate. The

Chorus are all women in the same situation, unknowing of where they are to be sent. Then the

Greek herald, Talthybius, arrives and tells the women that they are all to be sent to different

places – he tells Hecuba that Cassandra is to leave as Agamemnon’s concubine, but does not tell

her the truth about the sacrifice of her other daughter, Polyxena, instead saying that she is an

attendant at Achilles’ tomb. He tells Hecuba that she has been assigned to Odysseus. Cassandra

is brought in,and she tells Hecuba not to mourn for her as she is going to bring doom upon the

house of Atreus, and make sure that Agamemnon is killed.

Andromache, Hector’s widow, is next to arrive, with her infant son Astyanax. She tells Hecuba the

truth about Polyxena’s death. Talthybius comes in and tells Andromache that Odysseus has

decided to kill Astyanax, as the son of a great man such as Hector is too dangerous – he must be

thrown off a cliff.

Menelaus then arrives, explaining that it was not for love of Helen that he started the war, but

for a desire for revenge upon Paris. He expresses his desire to kill Helen, and Hecuba praises

him. When Helen is brought in, she pleads with Menelaus to let her explain herself – Hecuba tells

Menelaus to listen, but then she (Hecuba) will provide a rebuttal. Helen tells Menelaus that

Aphrodite is to blame, not her, and that she tried to join the Greek army again when Paris was

killed, but was prevented from doing so by the Trojans – she asks for pity and comfort, not

revenge. Hecuba then takes her turn, saying that Helen loved Paris, and she switched sides

during the war whenever one seemed to be on top. Menelaus agrees with Hecuba, and sends

Helen back to Sparta on a different ship from his own, to face justice there.

Talthybius arrives with the body of Astyanax, explaining that Andromache has already been

taken off by Neoptolemus, and so it is now Hecuba’s responsibility to bury the child. After she

has lamented over the child and performed a few simple rites, the order is given for Troy to be

burned and for Hecuba to be taken to Odysseus. Hecuba attempts to run into the fire but is

prevented by Odysseus’ soldiers, and so Hecuba and the women of the Chorus get onto the ship

away from the burning city.

5 comments on “WATCHING A FILM OR READING A SUMMARY OF “THE TROJAN WOMEN” BY EURIPIDES CAN HELP DECODE “WOMEN OF OWU” FOR WAEC/NECO EXAMS (59)

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