Thursday, March 22, 2007

415BC to 405BC

Lysistrata. Aristophanes. Greek. Play. In the twenty-first year of the Peloponnesian War, Lysistrata persuades the wives of Athens to shut themselves away from their husbands until peace shall be concluded. She has the satisfaction of dictating the terms.

414BC. The Birds. Aristophanes. Greek. Play. Fugitives from Athenian taxation and litigation persuade the birds to build a city in the clouds to block smoke from sacrifices of mortals from reaching the gods unless the gods comply with the birds' demands. They do.

414BC. Electra. Sophocles. Greek. Play. Emphasizes the qualities of heroism and tragic endurance. Orestes, Electra are reunited. Electra is the heroine. Orestes is a paragon of virtue, an avenger, with no real character. The murder of Clytemnestra for the murder of Agamemnon. A key scene is the recognition between Electra and Orestes. Clytemnestra is also a strong character.

414BC. Iphigenia in Tauris. Euripides. Greek. Play. Pursued by the furies, Orestes can be cured only by rescuing the statue of Artemis from the savages of Tauris who hate Greeks and put them to death if they capture them. Captured, taken before the high priestess, who is Iphigenia, supposedly killed by her father. She recognizes her brother. She arranges the escape of Orestes,his friend and herself. Intervention of Artemis, Athene.

413BC. Electra. Euripides. Greek. Play. Electra is forced to marry a farmer. As a peasant, she cannot avenge the murder of her father, Agamemnon, by her mother Clytemnestra and her consort Aegisthus. Orestes appears. They arrange for the murder of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra. Euripides emphasizes the horror of the act. He elicits pity for the victims. The play ends with Orestes' madness.

412BC. Helen. Euripides. Greek. Play. Paris actually abducted a spiritual version of Helen who is really in Egypt. Troy was destroyed because of a phantom. Menelaus arrives in Egypt. He realizes the war was fought for nothing. He escapes with her.

411BC. The Women Who Celebrate the Thesmophoria. Aristophanes. Greek. Play. The women of Athens plan to kill Euripides because of his treatment of them in his plays. Humorous attempts to thwart these efforts. Eventually, Euripides is reconciled with the women.

410BC. The Phoenician Women. Euripides. Greek. Play. Events of the war against Thebes.

408BC. Orestes. Euripides. Greek. Play. Orestes as bungling criminal; inextricable problems solved by Deus ex Machina.

410BC. The Bacchants. Euripides. Greek. Play. Tragic punishment of Pentheus, king of Thebes, who imprisons Dionysus; torn to pieces by his mother, Agave, during Bacchanalian orgy; play most closely resembles Dionysian mysteries from which Greek tragedy came.

405BC. The Frogs. Aristophanes. Greek. Play. Dionysus decides to go to Hades to bring back Euripides; dons lion's garb of Heracles only to learn that Heracles is not popular there, so he changes costume; debate between Euripides and Sophocles. Dionysus decides to bring back Sophocles instead. He is a weightier playwright. This play is an example of the freedom of speech allowed in Athens. Dionysus is made an absurd figure.

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