Hecuba, in slavery after Troy's fall, fails to dissuade Odysseus, whose life she once saved, from sacrificing her daughter to honour his dead friend, Achilles; but the girl dies proudly, true to her royal blood in surmounting degradation. Then Hecuba learns of her sons' treacherous murder by a former ally; out of her terrible loss comes determination for revenge, which she claims as a right but how just is her horrific cruelty? How credible against her earlier characterisation? The play has striking effects: the ghost of the murdered son, and his murderer subsequently blinded; poignant lyricism; vivid narratives; above all, a careful pattern of scenes demonstrating the equivocal power of 'Persuasion, man's only sovereign' (v.816). Hecuba is both a study of resilience and weakness, and a typically Euripidean comment on the uncertain, even collapsing, values of his time. Text with facing translation, commentary and notes.
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