Example Classics Essay Illustrate the importance of the themes of self-control, shame and desire in Euripides' Hippolytus. How does Euripides connect these themes to the world of the Athenian audience?

Example Classics Essay Illustrate the importance of the themes of self-control, shame and desire in Euripides' Hippolytus. How does Euripides connect these themes to the world of the Athenian audience?
Euripides' Hippolytus (1972)is a paradoxical play that, at its heart, deals with the outcomes ofconflicting human emotion. As Charles Segal suggests in his study Euripidesand the Poetics of Sorrow (1993) commensurate with a great many of theplaywright's other works - Alcestis, Hecuba etc., Hippolytus examinesthe divisions and conflicts of male and female experience (and) all threealso experiment with the limits of the tragic form
There are no clear cut moraldemarcations in Hippolytus,the ethical sense and movement of the piece is symbolised by the figures ofAphrodite and Artemis who straddle the drama both symbolically and physicallybeing as they are present in both the first and last scenes. As we shall see,the outcomes of the narrative veer more towards a psychological questioning ofwhat it is to be human than any moral proselytizing and the characters showboth weakness and strength in their dealing with the Gods and their quixoticnatures. With this in mind, in this essay I would like to look at this conceptin Hippolytus but more specifically how it relates to the notions ofself control, shame and desire, all subjects that form an integral part of thedrama's ultimate socio-ethical meaning.

Firstly, I will look at the dramaitself, attempting to illustrate and draw out instances of moral thinkingwithin it, then I will move on to examine the ways in which these are blurredand made complicated by Euripides before going to suggest ways in which thismight have been specifically tailored as both a critique and a lesson to thecontemporary Athenian audience.

Aristotle, in his Poetics(1965) calls Euripides our most tragic of poets (1965: 49) chiefly throughthe misfortune that befalls many of his leading characters at the conclusionsof his dramas. However, Aristotle also criticises Euripides for the faultymanagement of other aspects of the plot, and the moral and ethical position ofhis characters must be one of these. Let us, for instance, consider thecharacter of Hippolytus himself. On the surface, he seems to fulfil the rubricset by Aristotle that states a tragic hero must be better than average (Aristotle,1965: 52) in terms of morality and humanity; Hippolytus is a follower ofArtemis, the Greek goddess of constancy and self control, as is stated byAphrodite in the opening passges:

that son ofTheseus born of the Amazon, Hippolytus, who holy Pitteus taught, alone of theall the dwellers in this land of Rroezen, calls me the vilest of the deities.Love he scorns, and , as for marriage, will none of it. (Euripides, 1972: 225)

It is this self control that is themain focus of the play, as Hippolytus is shown to be, as Aristotle states ofbetter than average moral worth. However, there are subtle psychologicalsuggestions that beneath the external veneer of moral constancy, Hippolytus isas weak and as human as his audience. We can witness, for example hismisogynistic tirade after the Nurse reveals Phaedra's actions:

Great Zeus, whydidst thou, to man's sorrow, put woman, evil and counterfeit, to dwell whereshines the sun? If thou wert minded that the human race should multiply, it wasnot from women they should have drawn their stock (Euripides, 1972: 230)

This scene could be interpreted, asindeed Barnes and Sutherland do in Hippolytus in Drama and Myth (1960:82)as the reaction of an overtly moral consciousness to the very object he sees asthreatening it. However, this scene could also be indicative of what MelanieKlein called projection (Klein, 1991; 1997) in which the subject attributestraits and failings of their own self to another.With this in mind, it is easy to see that what one witnesses in Hippolytus'misogyny is much deeper than a mere hatred of women and the projection of hisown self hatred, brought about by the constant repression of his desire.

This, at once, adds a psychologicallayer of complexity to Euripides' characters and also distinguishes them fromthe, relatively, simplistic tenants of Aristotle.

What then are the outcomes ofHippolytus' moral conflicts? What are the tragic results? According toAristotle, the tragedy is characterised by a change in fortune from prosperityto misery (Aristotle, 1965: 48) and we can see this is certainly the case witha number of the characters. Theseus makes this journey in what we could thinkof as a typically Attic manner. We can note his initial moral position as beingone of conviction as he defends the honour of his wife against the perceivedlaxity of his son, as in this passage:

Behold thisman; he, my own son, hath outraged mine honour, his guilt most clearly provedby my dead wife (Euripides, 1972: 232)

We can also see, however, that thisis short lived, as we become witness to what Aristotle called the anagnoresis,or the discovery; the goddess Artemis being the facilitator of this action. Inthe character of Phaedra, however, this situation is, to an extent, reversed.She begins the play as an innocent victim of Aphrodite's wish to reap revengeon Hippolytus:

Aphrodite: SoPhaedra is to die, an honoured death t'is true., but still to die; for I willnot let her suffering outweigh the payment of such a forfeit by my foes as shallsatisfy my honour.

Example Classics Essay Illustrate the importance of the themes of self-control, shame and desire in Euripides' Hippolytus. How does Euripides connect these themes to the world of the Athenian audience? 9 of 10 on the basis of 3432 Review.