The Captive Woman’s Lament in Greek Tragedy.

Chapter 5. A River Shouting with Tears: Euripides’ Trojan Women

The Trojan Women, first produced in 416 BC, is both the easiest and most difficult of the plays under discussion to interpret, and indeed it is this deceptive ease that prompted the writing of this book.

But as I noted in Chapters 3 and 4, interpretation becomes more complicated when we try to interpret the play within its own historical and political context and with a view to the possible reactions of an ancient audience. It is tempting to read the Trojan Women as a play, as with the Hecuba, that explicitly protests recent atrocities committed by both Athenians and Spartans in the context of the Peloponnesian War. But N.T. Croally has well argued that there should and must be more to the Trojan Women than simple slogans:

Croally sees the function of tragedy as didactic in nature, its purpose to question ideology. Thus, for him, the Trojan Women represents “the consequences of war for the structures of thought, the beliefs, values – the ideology – in which Athenians lived, and in which tragedy and its functions were conceived (and challenged).” [
3] In other words, the Trojan Women is not about a specific event or set of events, but about larger structures.

Poseidon and Athena

From the outset, the emphasis of the narrative is on the wrongs the Greeks have committed against the gods in their sack of the city:

ἣ νῦν καπνοῦται καὶ πρὸς Ἀργείου δορὸς/ὄλωλε πορθηθεῖσ’· (…) ἔρημα δ’ ἄλση καὶ θεῶν ἀνάκτορα/φόνῳ καταρρεῖ· πρὸς δὲ κρηπίδων βάθροις/πέπτωκε Πρίαμος Ζηνὸς ἑρκείου θανών.

Trojan Women 8-9, 15-17

Now Troy is smoldering and destroyed, sacked by the Argive spear… Groves are deserted and the temples of the gods flow with blood. At the base of the altar of Zeus Herkeios [“the protector”], Priam has fallen dead.

Poseidon begins his prologue with the effects that the sack of Troy has had on the gods. Poseidon himself together with Apollo built the walls that were breached (4-6). Temples have been defiled, sacred groves deserted, and the {137|138} murder of Priam at the altar of Zeus is singled out immediately as an atrocity. When Athena enters, she reveals her own indignation. Though previously their greatest ally, she now wants “to send upon the army of the Achaeans a bitter homecoming voyage” (66, cf. 75), because they have outraged her temples (69), dragged off Cassandra by force (70), let Ajax go unpunished (71), and sacked Troy (72). Thus the Trojan Women signals immediately its participation in and continuation of the traditional sack of Troy themes that we have seen time and again in epic, art, and drama: the canonical list of atrocities committed during the sack, the anger of Athena, and her vengeance upon the Greeks on their return voyage.

The image of the Scamander river overflowing with wailing so that it “shouts” (29) is striking, and like many metaphors for lament that I have discussed thus far, the natural association of tears and rivers and streams resonates with epic reminiscences. This particular passage recalls and vividly {138|139} transforms the distress of the river in Iliad 21, when Achilles fills it with corpses to the point that it can hold no more. This image of intense sorrow, resonating with epic carnage, previews the bulk of the action of the Trojan Women. After the departure of the gods, the play consists with few exceptions of a series of laments by the principle characters and the chorus. Hecuba and the Trojan women seem at least initially to lament purely out of sorrow; unlike the Hecuba, there is nothing to be gained by the use of lament in this play other than the pity of the hearers. [6] Hecuba does not have to plead for the right to bury Astyanax, for example, she is simply allowed to do it. The sorrow of the women, moreover, seems even more stark and raw than in the Hecuba, perhaps because the setting is Troy itself and the action is situated directly in the aftermath of the sack, whereas the setting of the Hecuba is further removed both geographically and chronologically. The Trojan Women quite simply abounds in stunning images of suffering, from which there is no alleviation or hope. When the play ends, Hecuba is led off to her new master like all the other women before her, lamenting in antiphonal exchange with her fellow Trojan captives. The opening dialogue between Poseidon and Athena, however, makes it clear that the events depicted are not over when the play comes to an end. The songs of sorrow that make up the majority of the play are not without import or effect, as I will now go on to show.

Mothers in Mourning: Hecuba and the Trojan Women

Upon the departure of the gods, Hecuba performs a monody that recalls her opening lament in the Hecuba, with its traditional images of loss and devastation:

αἰαῖ αἰαῖ./τί γὰρ οὐ πάρα μοι μελέᾳ στενάχειν,/ᾗ πατρὶς ἔρρει καὶ τέκνα καὶ πόσις;/ὦ πολὺς ὄγκος συστελλόμενος/προγόνων, ὡς οὐδὲν ἄρ’ ἦσθα./τί με χρὴ σιγᾶν; τί δὲ μὴ σιγᾶν;/τί δὲ θρηνῆσαι;

Trojan Women 105-111


Aiai! Aiai! What is there for me that I do not lament with my song, I for whom country, children, and husband are gone? O great dignity of ancestors, cast down now, how you were nothing after all! Why should {139|140} I be silent? And why not be silent? Why should I perform a lament [thrênos]?

Hecuba begins by adducing the central theme of the captive woman’s lament, the combined loss all at once of country, children, and husband. She then questions whether she can even bring herself to lament, her questions to some extent echoing the traditional initial question of the “desperation speech” (τί χρὴ δρᾶν;). But she then continues in earnest, narrating the history of her troubles (122-138). As we have seen, lament gives women the opportunity to speak out about their own lives, and when incorporated into poetry lament often provides a new perspective on the traditional sequencing of events. [
7] Hecuba’s song is the tale of Troy from the point of view of the woman who experienced it all and suffered most. The solo portion of the lament culminates in a reflection upon her current state:

ὤμοι, θάκους οἵους θάσσω,/σκηναῖς ἐφέδρους Ἀγαμεμνονίαις./δούλα δ’ ἄγομαι/γραῦς ἐξ οἴκων πενθήρη/κρᾶτ’ ἐκπορθηθεῖσ’ οἰκτρῶς./ἀλλ’ ὦ τῶν χαλκεγχέων Τρώων/ἄλοχοι μέλεαι,/καὶ κοῦραι ‹κοῦραι› δύσνυμφοι,/τύφεται Ἴλιον, αἰάζωμεν./μάτηρ δ’ ὡσεί τις πτανοῖς/ὄρνισιν, ὅπως ἐξάρξω ‘γὼ/κλαγγάν, μολπάν, οὐ τὰν αὐτὰν/οἵαν ποτὲ δὴ/σκήπτρῳ Πριάμου διερειδομένα/ποδὸς ἀρχεχόρου πληγαῖς Φρυγίους/εὐκόμποις ἐξῆρχον θεούς.

Trojan Women 138-150

Alas what sort of seat is this that I have taken, I who am seated before the tents of Agamemnon? As a slave I am led away from my home, an old woman, my head shorn piteously in grief. Ah! wretched wives of the bronze-speared Trojans and maidens, unfortunate brides, Ilium is smoldering, let us cry out! Like some mother-bird that over her fledglings screams, so I will lead off the shout, the song and dance; not the same as that I once conducted, as I leaned on Priam’s scepter and with loud-sounding beats led the dance for the Phrygian gods.

Hecuba laments on behalf of brides who have lost their husbands and calls on them to weep for Troy. She contrasts her own leading off of the dirge with happier times, when she was once a bride and led dance and song in honor of the gods. The chorus of Trojan women at this point commences an antiphonal exchange with Hecuba (153-196) and eventually proceeds to perform its own lament (197-234). {140|141}

But as I argued in my discussion of the Hecuba, I see in Hecuba’s use of the mother bird metaphor an engagement on the part of Euripides with the lament tradition even beyond the Agamemnon of Aeschylus, whose dark, often sinister metaphors and allusions to the events of the Trojan War and its aftermath seem to have had a profound impact on subsequent portrayals. [9] In a passage of the Agamemnon, Agamemnon and Menelaus are compared at the outset of the expedition to vultures that fly through the sky, shrieking in lamentation (γόον 57) because they have lost their young. (See Agamemnon 49ff. and further discussion below). Now it is Hecuba who shrieks (Trojan Women 146-147). The comparison of Hecuba to a mother bird is taken up by the chorus later in the play:

ἠιόνες δ’ ἅλιαι/ἴακχον οἰωνὸς οἷ-/ον τεκέων ὕπερ βοᾷ,/ᾇ μὲν εὐνάς, ᾇ δὲ παῖδας,/ᾇ δὲ ματέρας γεραιάς.

Trojan Women 826-832

The shores of the sea cry out like a mother bird shouting for her young, now for husbands, now for children, now for aged mothers.

Here the laments of the Trojan women fill not just a river but an ocean. Their lamentation is compared both metaphorically to the roar of the ocean and by means of a simile to the shriek of a bird. The ocean carries connotations of liquid and hence tears as well as sound, while the bird, in addition to sound, conveys the attachment and intimacy of the mother-child bond. Indeed, the simile of the mother bird is very likely a traditional one in Greek women’s {141|142} laments for the loss of children. [
10] In the Hecuba, Polyxena compares herself to a frightened bird when Hecuba first calls her out onto the stage in order to tell her of her fate (ὥστ’ ὄρνιν θάμβει τῷδ’ ἐξέπταξας Hecuba 178-179). In the Trojan Women, Andromache compares Astyanax to a young bird trying to hide under her wings when Talthybius comes to announce the decision to kill him (τί μου δέδραξαι χερσὶ κἀντέχῃ πέπλων, νεοσσὸς ὡσεὶ πτέρυγας ἐσπίτνων ἐμάς; Trojan Women 750-751). The metaphor of the mother bird is only partially relevant here, however, because the shores are crying out for more than children. Husbands—or, more literally, sexual/marital unions (εὐνάς)—and mothers are also included in this complex song, because the captive women of Troy have many things to lament all at once.

Aeschylus’ simile of the vultures may itself allude ultimately to Odyssey 16.213-219, in which Odysseus and Telemakhos are at long last reunited and compared in their weeping to “eagles or vultures” that have been robbed of their young. [11] But later in the Odyssey, the simile and the reunification of father and son take on a new meaning. In Odyssey 22.302-306, Odysseus is compared in his vengeance on the suitors to vultures that swoop down and kill smaller birds who cannot escape. [12] In Iliad 9.323-327, Achilles strikingly compares his own situation to that of a mother bird who has lost the toil of raising her young, and the implication there too, I would argue, is that he is out for revenge. [13] The traditional resonance of the metaphor of the vultures is therefore complex and indeed foreboding, and Aeschylus exploits this ambiguity. In the Agamemnon ode, Agamemnon and Menelaus are first vultures who have {142|143} lost their young and lament, but just a few lines later in that same passage, they are compared by way of an omen to eagles who devour a pregnant hare (109-120); this omen predicts Troy’s destruction. This far more sinister aspect of the simile appears in Euripides’ Andromache. In yet another transformation of the simile, Menelaus and now his daughter Hermione are the two vultures, who will kill the child of Andromache by Neoptolemus: κτενοῦσί σε δισσοὶ λαβόντες γῦπες (“Two vultures will snatch you up and kill you” Andromache 74-75).

When we understand the lament of the vultures to be a call for vengeance, the songs of the Trojan women take on a new dimension. Suddenly they are not the stark, purposeless depictions of sorrow that they seem at first glance. The Trojan women have much to lament, and much to avenge. They have lost not just children, but husbands and city as well. But their vengeance will not come from a human agent, or even a human incarnation of an Erinys, as in the Agamemnon. The Greeks kill the last hope of Troy, Astyanax, precisely so that he will not grow up to avenge the Trojans (Trojan Women 723). Vengeance comes instead from the gods themselves, Poseidon and Athena, whose wrath and indignation frame the play.

The Bride’s Song: Cassandra

The figure of Cassandra in the Trojan Women is very interesting for this discussion precisely because she insists that she does not lament. In her maddened state she reproaches her mother for lamenting when she herself is singing a wedding song (Trojan Women 308-322). In this way Euripides has adapted still another form of women’s song to the medium of tragedy {143|144} and used it to explore the fate of the captive Trojan women. But of course Cassandra’s words are full of references to marriage, and the theme of marriages gone wrong, beginning with Helen’s, is one of the major themes of the laments of the play. Cassandra is not to be simply a “slave to the bride of the Spartan (= Clytemnestra)” but neither is she to be a proper bride herself. Rather, Agamemnon has chosen her for the purpose of “shadowy nuptials in the marriage bed.” [16] Moreover, like Polyxena and Iphigeneia, Cassandra is destined to find a wedding in death: “Let me marry my bridegroom in Hades.” [17] Cassandra’s entrance song, for the audience who knows of her impending doom, is a horrible conflation of a wedding hymn and a funeral dirge. [18] Cassandra, like her mother before her, makes a connection between the song and dance she now performs and the dancing of happier days, providing a meaningful and traditional contrast between past and present: “Raise your foot on high, lead on the dance—Euan, Euoi!—as in the happiest times when my father was alive” (Trojan Women 325-328). [19] Hecuba exclaims: “Hephaistos, you bear the torch at the weddings of mortals, but this flame you stir up is full of grief and far outside of my hopes.” [20]

Cassandra herself is not deluded either about what her “marriage” means; she proceeds to foretell the murders that await them upon arrival in Argos. Cassandra takes comfort in the knowledge that she will not be unavenged: “For if there is a Loxias, in me the renowned lord of the Achaeans Agamemnon will find a more disastrous marriage than Helen’s” (εἰ γὰρ ἔστι Λοξίας,/Ἑλένης γαμεῖ με δυσχερέστερον γάμον/ὁ τῶν Ἀχαιῶν κλεινὸς Ἀγαμέμνων ἄναξ 356-358). Her death is the Trojans’ victory: “I will come bearing victory to the dead after destroying the house of Atreus, by whom we have been cut {144|145} down” (ἥξω δ’ ἐς νεκροὺς νικηφόρος καὶ δόμους πέρσασ’ Ἀτρειδῶν, ὧν ἀπωλόμεσθ’ ὕπο 460-461). Her predictions are not confined to the fate of Agamemnon; she also prophesies the wanderings of Odysseus (431-443). In this way Cassandra, like Athena and Poseidon, looks beyond the confines of the play to the disasters that await the Greeks upon their departure from Troy.

Therefore Cassandra, too, is the quintessential captive woman, and in her bridal song come together many important themes. Like Polyxena in the Hecuba, she stands for the young Trojan women who will never have marriages, but who will instead become captive concubines and slaves. She is also set up as the counterpart of Helen. Her “marriage” to Agamemnon will bring death and destruction from Troy to Argos, just as Helen and Paris brought destruction from Greece to Troy. Cassandra perhaps does not lament, but she does get her revenge.

A Lament for the Dead

Hecuba’s speech in anticipation of the burial of Astyanax is a lament for the dead, not a captive woman’s lament, and as such it exhibits much of the form and content of Greek funeral laments as they have been studied by Alexiou and others. The speech itself, unlike other laments performed by Hecuba, is not sung, but it is immediately followed by an antiphonal exchange with the chorus that continues until the end of the play. [22] This {145|146} exchange, with its interruptions of syntax, spontaneous interjections, and exclamations of grief, exemplifies the interaction between the mourner and surrounding women documented in studies of modern Greek funerals. [23] In the following brief excerpt I have underlined some examples of this kind of interaction:

Χο. ἒ ἔ, φρενῶν
ἔθιγες ἔθιγες· ὦ μέγας ἐμοί ποτ’ ὢν
ἀνάκτωρ πόλεως.
Εκ. ἃ δ’ ἐν γάμοισι χρῆν σε προσθέσθαι χροῒ
Ἀσιατίδων γήμαντα τὴν ὑπερτάτην,
Φρύγια πέπλων ἀγάλματ’ ἐξάπτω χροός…
Χο. αἰαῖ αἰαῖ·
πικρὸν ὄδυρμα γαῖά σ’, ὦ
τέκνον, δέξεται.
στέναζε, μᾶτερ Εκ. αἰαῖ.
Χο. νεκρῶν ἴακχον. Εκ. οἴμοι.
Χο. οἴμοι δῆτα σῶν ἀλάστων κακῶν.

Trojan Women, 1216-31

CHORUS: Ah, Ah, you have touched,
you have touched my mind; Oh you who were once for me a great
lord of the city.
HECUBA: The robes that you should have put around your skin
on the day of your marriage to the most outstanding of the women of Asia,
these Phrygian adornments I fasten around your skin…
CHORUS: Aiai aiai!
The earth will receive you child,
Bitter source of grief.
Cry out, mother HECUBA: Aiai!
CHORUS: a song for the dead. HECUBA: Alas!
CHORUS: Alas indeed for your unforgettable sorrows.

As we will see in Chapter 6, it is in exchanges like these that we find perhaps the closest connections between the stylized language of tragedy and the conventions of actual funerals. {146|147}

The Anger of Andromache

The fact that Hecuba is a captive Trojan woman and the very Greekness of her speech of lament raise similar questions to those we have been considering. What is the emotional force of this speech and the antiphonal exchange that brings the play to an end? How might the members of the audience have responded to these evocations of their own funeral rituals? Before I turn to such questions, I would first like to consider the figure of Andromache. As forceful as the lament of Hecuba must have been for a Greek audience, it is Andromache who delivers some of the most provocative lines of the play—some of which are later echoed in Hecuba’s speech: “Greeks who have discovered barbarian evils, why do you kill this child who is in no way to blame?” (ὦ βάρβαρ’ ἐξευρόντες Ἕλληνες κακά, τί τόνδε παῖδα κτείνετ’ οὐδὲν αἴτιον; 764-765). Do Andromache’s accusations contain the theme around which Euripides’ has constructed this drama? Have Greeks and barbarians exchanged places, such that the Trojans are noble and innocent {147|148} victims of war, and the Greeks savage barbarians without restraint or reverence for the gods?

In a recent study of Euripides’ so-called political plays (namely, the Children of Herakles and the Suppliant Women, both produced in the 420’s), Daniel Mendelsohn has explored the intersection of the feminine and the political in the plays. In arguing that these two plays have been unappreciated by critics because they have been misunderstood, Mendelsohn writes:

In Mendelsohn’s reading, Euripides has used the feminine to problematize and challenge state ideology: “girls and women are often the representatives of a disturbing and potentially disruptive otherness within the carefully {148|149} constructed world of the drama.” [
28] Much of Mendelsohn’s work, therefore, intersects with that of Croally, and is potentially useful when considering the role of gender in the Trojan Women. If we assume that the Trojan Women is a play about imperialism (or, more generally, war), and specifically about Athenian imperialism within the context of the Peloponnesian War, we might argue that Euripides has dramatized the effects of war on women in order to challenge the ideology of imperialism.

The Trojan Women, like the Hecuba, is steeped in the epic and artistic traditions about the Trojan War that condemn the actions of the Greeks and highlight the suffering of the Trojan widows. But rather than separate the Athenians from this tradition, Euripides explicitly involves them in it, thereby challenging the audience to confront the sorrow that their own actions have brought about and to think about how a justified victory can go horribly wrong if the victors are not kept in check. But the play does more than that, because the laments and language and imagery of the play are traditional and Greek, and thus blur the distinction between Greek and Trojan, winner and loser. As in Aeschylus’ Persians, the Trojans are labeled (occasionally) “barbarian” and (often) “Phrygian” or {149|150} “Asian” only to at the same time universalize their grief. [31] And so a crucial component of the emotional dynamic in this play must be, in addition to pity, fear. I say this not because of Aristotle’s famous formulation about the emotions of tragedy, but because the Athenians were on the verge of launching a massive expedition, and were weakened by the plague and protracted hostilities of the past two decades. If the Sicilian expedition failed (as it ultimately did), the smoldering Troy of Euripides’ play could be not Mytilene or Scione or Melos, but Athens. This is a reality that Athens had experienced, back in 480. The Trojan Women reminds its audience that it could happen again. Cassandra’s words in particular are full of dire foreboding when read in light of contemporary events: the Trojans died gloriously fighting for their countries (τὸ κάλλιστον κλέος 386); they were buried in their native land and lamented by their wives. But as for the Greeks, they lie dead, unburied, uncared for, and unlamented in a foreign land (376-386). [32]

But just as we cannot reduce the complexity of the Trojan Women to a simple anti-war slogan, nor can we reduce the emotional dynamic of this tragedy (or any tragedy) to politics and ideology. The women of Troy engage the emotions of their audiences both within and beyond the plays in which they are featured, and they do this by means of their own particular mode of speech and song, the captive woman’s lament. Tragedies like the Hecuba and the Trojan Women were successful and affective at least in part because they allowed their audiences to transcend time and space and weep for the suffering they were witnessing on a universal level.


[ back ] 1. See Chapter 3, above. For Sartre’s stark adaptation of the Trojan Women, see Loraux 2002.

[ back ] 2. Croally 1994, 253. (For citations of these positions, see again Croally.)

[ back ] 3. Croally 1994, 254.

[ back ] 4. Several passages from this play are discussed elsewhere in the book.

[ back ] 5. An extreme form of this point has been made in connection with the Hecuba by King 1985, 63-64 (note 35), who sees the Hecuba as a condemnation of the barbarity of the Athenians in the first phase of the Peloponnesian War, and the sack of Mytilene in particular. On the role of Akamas and Demophon in the Hecuba see also Gregory 1991, 85-86 and Mossman 1995, 41.

[ back ] 6. Cf. Hecuba’s words at 473: τοῖς γὰρ κακοῖσι πλείον’ οἶκτον ἐμβαλῶ (“I will inspire greater pity for my sufferings”).

[ back ] 7. On this point, see also the Introduction and Chapter 1.

[ back ] 8. Anderson 1997, 158 argues that this speech is an adaptation and hence fulfillment of Priam’s vision of the sack of Troy in Iliad 22.59-76. (For a discussion of this passage, see Anderson 1997, 28-36.)

[ back ] 9. Euripides’ Iphigeneia at Aulis and Iphigeneia Among the Taurians (neither of which are discussed extensively in this book) have a similar allusive relationship with both the Agamemnon of Aeschylus and the Trojan myth cycle as a whole.

[ back ] 10. Cf., e.g., Herakles 1039-1041, in which Herakles’ father Amphitryon is compared in his grief to a mother bird lamenting her young after Herakles has killed his grandsons, Herakles’ own children. Earlier in the play, Megara, fearing for her life and that of her children, says that she protects her sons “beneath [her] wings, like a bird that puts her young under her” (Herakles 71-72). On the figure of Procne and the mourning song of the nightingale see Loraux 1998, 55-65.

[ back ] 11. Note however that the bird I have translated as “eagles” here is φῆναι, not αἰετός.

[ back ] 12. See also the final lines of the Odyssey, in which Odysseus prepares to swoop down upon the relatives of the suitors in battle like an eagle (Odyssey 24.537-538), on which image see Moulton 1977, 135-39. On the traditional themes, narratives, and connotations associated with and evoked by particular animal metaphors in Homeric epic see especially Muellner 1990.

[ back ] 13. Scott 1974, 78 also suggests there may be a link between the Achilles simile and the Odyssey similes in rhe theme of revenge. Moulton 1977, 101-104 has noted that the relationship between Achilles and Patroklos is several times described by similes that involve the parent/children motif, and Achilles is usually cast in the role of the protector. This pattern makes it all the more significant that Achilles here draws on the imagery of women’s laments for children to describe himself, given the central importance of Patroklos’ death (and Achilles’ avenging of that death) in the Iliad.

[ back ] 14. See Chapter 1.

[ back ] 15. I have reduced here to a mere outline the subtle and in-depth arguments of Ferrari 1997, 24-35. On the theme of a mother’s vengeance see also Slatkin 1991, Rabinowitz 1993, 103-124, Loraux 1998, and Foley 2001, 272-299.

[ back ] 16. See Trojan Women 249-253: [ back ] ΤΑ. ἐξαίρετόν νιν ἔλαβεν Ἀγαμέμνων ἄναξ. [ back ] ἙΚ. ἦ τᾷ Λακεδαιμονίᾳ νύμφᾳ [ back ] δούλαν; ἰώ μοί μοι. [ back ] ΤΑ. οὔκ, ἀλλὰ λέκτρων σκότια νυμφευτήρια. [ back ] Mary Ebbott (2003) has analyzed the poetic resonance of the word skotios (“shadowy”) as a metaphor for illegitimacy.

[ back ] 17. ἐς ᾍδου νυμφίῳ γημώμεθα. (Trojan Women 445)

[ back ] 18. On the conflation of wedding songs and laments for the dead in the Greek tradition, see Chapter 1.

[ back ] 19. πάλλε πόδα/αἰθέριον ἄναγε χορόν· εὐἅν, εὐοἵ/ὡς ἐπὶ πατρὸς ἐμοῦ/μακαριωτάταις τύχαις.

[ back ] 20. Trojan Women 343-345: Ἥφαιστε, δᾳδουχεῖς μὲν ἐν γάμοις βροτῶν,/ἀτὰρ λυγράν γε τήνδ’ ἀναιθύσσεις φλόγα/ἔξω τε μεγάλων ἐλπίδων. Ferrari 1997 demonstrates the close iconographic association between torches and the Erinyes, a connection which is no doubt significant here.

[ back ] 21. For Andromache’s lament in Iliad 22, see Chapter 1. The death of Astyanax was also related in the Sack of Troy in the Epic Cycle.

[ back ] 22. On the metrical sequence of these concluding passages and the emotional dynamic they convey, see Barlow 1986 ad loc.

[ back ] 23. On the traditional and formulaic aspects of this kind of responsion see especially Caraveli-Chavez 1978. On this phenomenon and Caraveli-Chavez’ work, see also further discussion in Chapter 6.

[ back ] 24. Alexiou 1974, 133 and Dué 2002, 67.

[ back ] 25. Compare Agave’s lament at Euripides, Bacchae 1300ff. Unfortunately there is a lacuna at this point in the received text, but reconstruction of the missing passage from several sources suggests that Pentheus’ body parts were lamented in a similar way.

[ back ] 26. See, e.g., the edition of Barlow 1986 and the references assembled by Croally 1994, 253.

[ back ] 27. Mendelsohn 2002, 12-13.

[ back ] 28. Mendelsohn 2002, 20-21.

[ back ] 29. I would interpret the comedies of Aristophanes in a similar way. For similar trends in the interpretation of Herodotus, see Chapter 2, note 000.

[ back ] 30. In her book The Mourning Voice (2002), Nicole Loraux notes that Sartre’s staging of the Trojan Women, produced in explicit protest of the Vietnam War, failed to capture much of the emotional intensity of the play precisely because it was too closely tied to a particular political event.

[ back ] 31. For the Trojans as “barbarians,” see, e.g., Trojan Women 1021.

[ back ] 32. On the horror connected with the idea of soldiers left unburied in the Greek tradition see Ebbott 2000.

[ back ] 33. τὰν κλεινὰν εἴθ’ ἔλθοιμεν Θησέως εὐδαίμονα χώραν (Trojan Women 208-209). Cf. 218-219: τάδε δεύτερά μοι μετὰ τὰν ἱερὰν Θησέως ζαθέαν ἐλθεῖν χώραν (“These places are second to me after the sacred, holy land of Theseus”).