The opposition and challenge of the standard norms of women in the play medea and hippolytus
From our point of view it is just as important to ask what gives his plays lasting significance in the theatre as to study what was innovative about them in their own time.
Medea and greek society
Suddenly she calls to them to be quiet: she can hear voices from within and is filled with horror "we're ruined". And in Hippolytus when the women say "Are there not young male attendants to hand? Any given play may exploit some of these factors in order to give greater immediacy to the story that is being enacted; sometimes we can guess at what sort of connexions were being made in Euripides' case, though often enough the plays must have had quite local and specific links with the contemporary context which we cannot hope to recover. Co-existing with this "here and now" of the performance in the theatre is the world of the drama, the imaginary place, time and persons created by the fiction of the play: Corinth in the time of Jason and Medea, Troy a generation later. The Nurse, having heard Phaedra's confession of love for her stepson, has gone indoors to find a "remedy", or so Phaedra has been encouraged to think , and Phaedra stays outside as the Chorus sing about the destructive power of love. The Chorus1 insistence at f that they are not near enough to the doors of the palace to hear what is being said within reads like an explicit reminder to the audience of the conventions of the contemporary theatre The Chorus are alarmed, asking increasingly agitated questions.
This theatricality must have been even more striking in B. When the dying Hippolytus is carried in from the sea shore, the "Artemis site" of his chariot driving is now also clearly to be identified as an "Aphrodite site", and the spheres of the two goddesses are seen to be impossible to separate.
Shadi Bartsch and others have pointed to a more ambiguous Stoic influence: Medea uses recognizably Stoic rhetoric and techniques of self-molding to exhort herself, not towards self-improvement, but towards committing evil acts and living up to her fearsome mythic name. Few Stoic-inflected interpretations, though coherent on their own terms, reflect on what point Seneca might be making to his probably mostly male audience about the larger implications of erotic passion and furor as human vices that, in his dramas at least, assumes their most exemplary destructive form in women. In Seneca's play the technique is much more abstract: we are not even told whether the Chorus is male or female, what is their relation to the main characters, what has prompted their arrival, or how much of the action they are supposed to witness This is something for clever dramatists to exploit, not to try to suppress as an embarassment, although critics have sometimes been unduly wary of it 4. The Chorus, who asked point-blank what she intended and were told "to die" , showed no sign of suspecting that she had any additional plan. Tell me what you have heard at the doors" Already this is an imaginary place of some complexity, since it is one in which a goddess can appear for the benefit of the privileged spectators and reveal her plans in detail, unobserved by any of the people who live here.
While Phaedra is alive the women's Chorus evokes an atmosphere of intimate, almost private, feminine experience.
By any standards and in any theatrical context it has thrilling power, through its exploitation of the play-within-a-play design, with Phaedra first overhearing an off-stage drama and interpreting it for the women 18then listening on-stage without being an active participant.
It's not safe to interfere". The singers recall Hippolytus1 outdoor life: chariot driving on the sea shore and hunting in the woods 1 The presence of this group along with Hippolytus helps to create a sense of a context to which only the males have access: the wild outdoors of the woods and meadows and racing places.
If the emotional climax of our surviving play thus makes reference to the earlier version we have particularly clear corroboration of one of the points that I have been trying to bring out in this paper, that reminders of the world of the theatre need not be in any way disruptive of a play's serious atmosphere.
The Chorus are as horrified as Phaedra, seeing her, not Theseus, as the one "betrayed" If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE.
This short sequence is the preparation for the scene between Hippolytus and the Nurse, which from is played before the audience, with Phaedra and the Chorus as silent witnesses.
Our mistress, Theseus' wife, is hanging" 22 ; then "Won't you hurry? Hence the play's lasting theatrical power - its capacity to involve us whoever "we" may be in the collaborative and intriguing business of trying to make sense of it.
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