What would a young man say or do if he learned that his step-mother had fallen in love with him?
In the play Hippolytus by Euripides, Hippolytus finds out that his step-mother has fallen for him. But what he doesn’t know is that the goddess Aphrodite has had her hand in these matters.
Hippolytus, the illegitimate son of Theseus, king of Trozen, has angered the goddess Aphrodite because he scorns love and women. Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, can do nothing for him, for Aphrodite has cast a love potion on Theseus’ wife, the queen Phaedra. When Phaedra falls in love with attractive Hippolytus, she is doomed by her own guilt and obsession. In classic Greek format, tragedy befalls Theseus’ house.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Euripides’ play. My only previous Greek drama experience was Oedipus Rex and Antigone, both by Sophocles.
In the introduction to my translation (via Project Gutenberg), I learned that Euripides’ plays showed less influence of the gods on human daily life. I didn’t notice that: it seemed Aphrodite and Artemis had a feud, and the downfalls of Phaedra and Hippolytus were the direct result. The humans were pawns, as in a game of chess. I suppose I must reread Sophocles to truly see the difference mentioned.
About the Translation
There were four translations among the six participants of the book discussion I went to, and that made it immensely interesting. I read the Project Gutenberg translation, which was very archaic: each line rhymed in a forced way. Others had “free verse” translations, which were much clearer upon reading and much more comfortable to read. I’d suggest trying one of those. Mine was a bit too much.
I Am (Officially) a Geek
I know: most book clubs are actually excuses to chat with friends. But I’ve been looking for a book group where I can have a real discussion (a group that is reading something other than _[insert vampire best-seller here]_). Therefore, I was glad to see that my library has a discussion group on “The Great Books” (which I do agree is a pretty limited list of “great books”).
Since I’d just started the Really Old Classics Challenge, I thought I’d jump into the discussion on Euripides.
As for the book group: The average age of the six members of the book group was probably 65. Since my age is included in that average (I’m in my 20s), let me just say everyone else was rather old. The lady next to me had flatulence. The guy across the room kept pulling on his ear to hear what I said. But you know what? I enjoyed the discussion.
I must be a real geek.
Are you a geek? Are you interested in a great books discussion near you? Visit greatbooks.org to find a group near you.
Why do you go to book clubs? Is it the brownies and the gossip? Or are you actually expecting a discussion about a book?
For the rest of October, I’ll donate 10 cents to World Food Programme for every (non-spam) comment I receive on any post of Rebecca Reads. See most post on Blog Action Day 2008 here. I’m also donating any proceeds (4%) from my Amazon Store.