Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 May 2015
When Euripides’ Helen was first produced in 412 B.C., it seems to have created a literary sensation. We have Aristophanes’ word for it. In the Thesmophoriazusae, staged almost certainly at the Dionysia of the following year, the comic poet introduces an old relative of Euripides, who says at line 850 ‘I’m going to copy that newfangled Helen’ τήν καινήν ΈΧένψ μιμήσομαι, and this he proceeds to do by burlesquing four scenes from the tragedy.
1 My opening sentence is modelled on the corresponding sentence in R. Kannicht’s magisterial edition of the Helen ([Heidelberg 1969] 1.21Google Scholar), with a 129-page introduction containing the best and fullest discussion of issues crucial to the play (its version of the myth in relation to Stesichorus and Herodotus; motifs such as the είδωλον, the δίτομα/πράγμα polarity, Helen’s identity problem, Theonoe, the μηχάνημα, the history of the text).
3 On his identity see e.g. Sir Dover, Kenneth J., Aristophanic Comedy (London 1972) 165.Google Scholar
5 B.B. Rogers (London 1904) xxiv-xxix.
6 See e.g. Flickinger, R.C., The Greek Theater and its Drama (Chicago 1922Google Scholar) passim; Winnington-Ingram, R.P., Arethusa 2 (1969) 127Google Scholar ff.; Michelini, A.N., Euripides and the Tragic Tradition (Madison 1987) 70Google Scholar ff. My own papers include G&R 20 (1973) 49Google Scholar ff. = Longo, O. (ed.), Euripide: lettere critiche (Milan 1976) 13Google Scholar ff., MPL 3 (1978) 1Google Scholar ff., Antichthon 16 (1982) 35CrossRefGoogle Scholar ff. (contrast Hamilton, R., AJP 108 (1987) 585Google Scholar ff.) and 17 (1983) 13 ff.
7 In the preface to The Awkward Age (Bodley Head edition p. 30).
8 We have no right to assume that in the play’s original production there was painted scenery or any other visual device to indicate an Egyptian setting, pace Dale, A. M. in her commentary (Oxford 1967), 69Google Scholar. Cf. Sir Arthur W. Rckard-Cambridge, The Theatre of Dionysus in Athens (Oxford 1946) 122Google Scholar and Kannicht in his commentary on 1 -3.
9 The translations from the play are my own, designed as they are to convey accurately and honestly what Euripides intended.
10 Cf. Seidenstecker, B., Palintonos Harmonia: Studien zu komischen Elementen in der griechischen Tragödie [Hypomnemata 72] (Götlingen 1982) 167CrossRefGoogle Scholar ff. and Puppi, D. Galeotti, AJP 108 (1987) 34Google Scholar. On supplication generally in tragedy and elsewhere Gould, J., JHS 93 (1973) 74CrossRefGoogle Scholar ff. is indispensable.
13 2.112-119. Cf. especially Kannicht (1.41 ff.).
14 I make no apology for accepting here and elsewhere (G&R 28  190Google Scholar n. 4, Antichthon 17  17Google Scholar n. 20) the traditional dating of Euripides’ Electro to 413 B.C., along with a few other scholars (e.g. Fornara, C.W., JHS 91  30CrossRefGoogle Scholar and n.12, Leimbach, R., Hermes 100  190Google Scholar ff., Michelini [n.6] 226 n. 194). The majority of Euripidean scholars, however, have been persuaded by Zuntz, G., The Political Plays of Euripides (Manchester 1955) 64Google Scholar ff., that the play was produced several years earlier, e.g. Kannicht, 1.32 n. 13; Lesky, A., Die tragische Dichtung der Hellenen (Göttingen 1972) 392Google Scholar ff.; Donzelli, G. Basta, Studio sull’Elettra di Euripide (Catania 1978) 29Google Scholar n.13; M. Cropp in his edition of the play (Warminster 1988) 1-li.
15 More than a thousand each year, if one accepts the calculations of Webster, T.B.L., Athenian Culture and Society (London 1973) 49, 260Google Scholar.
16 Hamilton, R., HSCP 89 (1985) 68Google Scholar argues that the change of name from Eido (‘appearance’) to Theonoe (‘god-mind’) is a further example of the playwright’s emphasis on the contrast between appearance and reality in this play (see n. 18 below). Cf. also Whitman, C., Euripides and the Full Circle of Myth (Cambridge, Mass. 1974) 53CrossRefGoogle Scholar ff.
17 ‘Es kann als gesichert gelten, daß die Eidolonversion des Helenamythos die Erfindung des Stesichoros ist’ (Kannicht, 1.24); the evidence is basically Plato, Resp. 9.586c, and the anonymous ancient commentator on lyric in POxy. 2506 fr. 26 col. I, 2-16 = Page (n.12) 106. On the είδωλον see especially Kannicht, 1.53 ff.
18 First by Solmsen, F., CR 48 (1934) 119Google Scholar ff.; thereafter especially Griffith, J.G., JHS 73 (1953) 36CrossRefGoogle Scholar ff.; Pippin, A. N. (Burnett), CP 55 (1960) 151Google Scholar ff.; Kannicht, 1.57 ff.; Segal, C., TAPA 102 (1971) 558Google Scholar ff.; Zagagi (η. 12) 85 f.; Galeotti Puppi (n.10) 27 ff.
19 Ar. Ach. 440 f. parodies Euripides’ Telephus (fr. 698 Nauck2).
20 On this passage see especially Stinton, T.C.W., PCPS 202 (1976) 74Google Scholar f., arguing that the Greek expressions quoted do not imply any doubt over the statements that they qualify.
22 Leda’s suicide seems to have been an innovation by Euripides (cf. Kannicht’s commentary on 133-36).
23 Yet Euripides was always eager to vary and experiment with the structural patterns of these divided parodoi. Medea (431 B.C.) is the earliest extant and perhaps the most adventurous example; after an anapaestic duet between the nurse (on stage) and Medea (off stage), the chorus enters in marching anapaests and the parodos becomes an anapaestic trio of nurse and chorus (visible to the audience) and Medea (still off stage). In Troades (415 B.C.), after an anapaestic lament by Hecuba the parodos begins with an anapaestic duet between Hecuba and one half of the chorus, continues with a matching duet between Hecuba and the other half of the chorus, and concludes with anapaests from the united chorus without interventions from Hecuba. In Ion, after an anapaestic solo from Ion the parodos is structured as a lyrical duet between the entering chorus and Ion, but on this occasion the chorus is divided into a number of small groups, each singing its own section(s) of the lyrics, with Ion’s participation confined to parts of the final antistrophe. There is another variation in Electro; the parodos is divided simply between Elettra and the chorus, but Euripides introduces two surprises into the sequence: (i) before the parados the skene is empty; (ii) in the lyric duet Elettra has by far the bigger rôle, singing two strophes and two antistrophes before the chorus sings the third strophe and shares the third antistrophe with Elettra. On the similarities between the parodoi of Euripides’ play and what I believe to be the earlier Sophoclean Electro see my paper in Studi in onore di Adelmo Barigazzi 1 (Rome 1986) 27Google Scholar ff.; on the parodos of Helen see further Ludwig, W., Sapheneia (Diss. Tübingen 1954) 82 ff.Google Scholar
24 See above, pp. 4-5 and n.18.
25 On these games with the dramatic illusion, see especially the works cited in n.6.
26 E.g. Dale in her commentary on 167-252, ‘Like many of the songs in Hel. this is an operatic aria whose words must not be expected to bear too close a scrutiny of their meaning.’ Contrast e.g. Barlow, S.A., The Imagery of Euripides (London 1971) 21Google Scholar f.
27 Here and at 241 -46 below my translation is based on Kannicht’s text (see his commentary on 170-75 = 182-87, 183-87 and 243-45).
28 The verb θηρφ is used on both occasions. This hunting image is deliberately applied to both Theoclymenus (62 f., 314) and Menelaus (51,1175) with respect to their designs on Helen; at 545 Helen uses it of Menelaus when she misidentifies him as an agent of Theoclymenus. The image is particularly appropriate for Theoclymenus, who is portrayed in this play as a hunter (153 f., 1169 f.). See also n.57 below.
29 Cf. Segal (η. 18) 569 ff., Seidenstecker (η. 10) 161. There is a brief reference to Persephone’s abduction by Hades later in the play (1322) during the notorious Demeter ode, whose relevance to its dramatic context has often been impugned by critics and editors (e.g. Dale and Kannicht on 1301-68). The best defenceof theode’srelevance has been made by Robinson, D.B. in Bowersock, G.W. and others (edd.), Arktouros: Hellenic Studies Presented to Bernard M.W. Knox on the Occasion of his Sixty-Fifth birthday (Berlin 1979) 162Google Scholar ff.; cf. also Pippin (n.18) 156, Jesi, F., Aegyptus 45 (1965) 56Google Scholar, Podlecki, A. J., TAPA 101 (1970) 408Google Scholar ff., Wolff, C., HSCP 77 (1973) 63Google Scholar ff., 7 Iff.
30 Euripides draws attention to possible myth parallels with equal subtlety in e.g. Bacchae, where the story of Actaeon is referred to several times (337 ff. and Dodds’ commentary ad loc., 230, 1227, 1291); like Pentheus, Actaeon was a grandson of Cadmus, and he too was torn to death on Mount Cithaeron; Actaeon’s mother Autonoe accompanied Agave and Ino into the mountain. In alleging an inherited love-curse on her family, Phaedra in Hippolytus cites the examples of her mother Pasiphae andher sister Ariadne (337 ff.); in some versions of the legend (S Eur. Hipp. 47, [Libanius], Narrationes 21, cf. the Vatican mythographers 1.43, 2.121 [= 2.144 Kulcsár], 3.3.6 Mai; but probably not Euripides’ own Cretans to judge from vv. 25 f. of fr. 82 Austin = Perg. Berlin 13217), Pasiphae, like Phaedra, was made to fall in love by Aphrodite because of a fault committed by another (in this case her husband Minos). More commonly in Greek tragedy (e.g. Aesch. Choeph. 585 ff., Soph. Ant. 944 ff., Eur. Helen 375 ff.) the relevant myth parallels are collected together as the subject of a choral στάσιμοι. Cf. also Segal (n. 18) 596 ff., Wolff (n. 29) 63 f., Dirat, M., REG 89 (1976) 164Google Scholar ff., Hartigan, K.V., Eranos 79 (1981) 23Google Scholar ff.
31 Poetics 1452b 20f. Cf. Aichelein, K.Jens, W. (ed.), Die BauformendergriechischenTragödie (Munich 1971) 47Google Scholar ff., Sirohm, H., Euripides: Interpretationen zurdramatischen Form (Munich 1957) 179Google Scholar ff.; and contrast O. Taplin’s stringent criticisms of the Aristotelian remarks in The Stagecraft of Aeschylus (Oxford 1977) 49 ff., 470 ff. and Greek Tragedy in Action (London 1978) 220Google Scholar, 184 n.l 1. Of course this very long łweiaóStou is not a boringly undifferentiated sequence of iambic trimeters, but broken up and varied by three lyric interludes (none of which is an Aristotelian στάσιμον): an iambo-trochaic and dactylic exit duet as Helen and the chorus go off into the palace (330-85), a short, mainly aeolo-choriambic song of one stanza as the chorus retums to the orchestra (515-27), and the astrophic duet of recognition and reunion voiced by Helen and Menelaus in a mixture of iambic trimeters and ‘associable’ lyric metres (625-97: see Dale’s commentary ad loc., and her The Lyric Metres of Greek Drama 2 [Cambridge 1968] 208).Google Scholar
32 My use of the word ‘stage’ here and elsewhere in this paper does not imply any stance on the vexed question whether there was a slightly raised stage for the three tragic actors at the rear of the orchestra, or whether the actors operated along with the chorus in the orchestra; for a brief modem survey see K. Joerden in Jens (n.31) 407 ff.
34 In Hippolytus the scene in which the nurse teases out the truth from Phaedra about the latter’s sickness comes between the parodos and Phaedra’s long speech, but a short choral strophe (362-72) immediately precedes that speech.
35 Especially Frogs 1331, 1333 f. The figure is remarkably common in Euripides; Breitenbach, W., Untersuchungen zur Sprache der Euripideischen Lyrik (Stuttgart 1934Google Scholar) collects the lyric instances.
36 The lines are deleted by Dale, but retained (with difficulty: see his commentary ad loc. for the various interpretations) by Kannicht.
37 Correctly assigned to the coryphaeus by Stephanus: cf. the recent editions of the play by Diggle, J. (Euripidis Fabulae 2 [Oxford 1981])Google Scholar and K. H. Lee (Leipzig 1988).
38 There is some doubt over the precise moment of the chorus ‘ exit: cf. the commentaries of Dale on 374, Kannicht on 385.
39 Cf. Flickinger (n.6), especially 152 ff., 246 ff., and my paper in Antichlhon 16 (1982) 35CrossRefGoogle Scholar f. Schadewaldt, W., Monolog und Selbstgespräch (Berlin 1926) 23Google Scholar notes that the dramatic point of the scenes in the Helen leading up to the recognition would have been lost if the chorus had seen Menelaus enter.
42 The seven are Oeneus, Phoenix, Philoctetes (431), BeJlerophon, Telephus (438), Thyestes and bo. See also Ar. Peace 146 ff.. Frogs 842, 846,1063 f. Cf. Muecke, F., Anlichlhon 16 (1982) 17Google Scholar ff., and (on Menelaus’ costume) Kannicht’s commentary on 386-514 (2.121 f.).
44 Vv. 388 (from ήνίκ ) — 389 (to ) were correctly deleted by Nauck as an interpolation, and are not translated. Cf. Kannicht’s commentary ad loc.
46 Cf. Anderson, G., BICS 23 (1976) 59Google Scholar ff., showing that Lucian’s quotations from and allusions to earlier literature are often ‘first lines or near-first lines’.
47 Cf. my paper in MPL 3 (1978) 6Google Scholar ff., G. W. Bond’s commentary (Oxford 1981)Google Scholar on Her. 822-73 and Lee, K. H., Antichthon 16 (1982) 44Google Scholar ff. On Euripides’ interest in the άρχή κακών see especially Stinton, T. C. W., Euripides and the Judgement of Paris [Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, Supplementary Paper 11] (London 1965) 14Google Scholar f., and Solmsen, F., Intellectual Experiments of the Greek Enlightenment (Princeton 1975) 66 ff.Google Scholar
48 Zuntz, Cf. G., Entretiens Hardt 6 (1958) 223Google Scholar, Strohm (n.31) 29. The parallelism is emphasised both visually (Helen as a suppliant at Proteus ‘ tomb in the first half of the play, Menelaus taking refuge there in the second half) and verbally (e.g. Helen proud of her own innocence but ashamed of the κλέος foisted on her by her double: 198 f., 249 ff., 270, 926 ff.; Menelaus by contrast proud of his past but ashamed of his present humiliation as a ragged beggar: 392 ff., 415 ff., 453,501 ff., 806,845 ff., 948 f., 1603). On the importance of κλέος to Menelaus see Wolff (n.29) 81 f., Sansone, D., Symb. Ost. 60 (1985) 25Google Scholar ff.
49 As Kannicht notes (on 411-13), ‘Das literarische Vorbild für diese Rettung ist die des Odysseus’; cf. Dale on 412 and Seidenstecker (n.10) 162 f. On some other Euripidean debts to the Odyssey see especially Cropp, M. in Greek Tragedy and its Legacy: Essays Presented to D. J. Conacher (edited by Cropp, E. Fantham and Scully, S. E. [Calgary 1986]) 187 ff.Google Scholar
50 Podlecki (n.29) 402 ff. and Whitman (n.17) 45 ff. rightly wam that Menelaus’ entrance monologue is not in itself comic. L.A. Post’s paper on the Helen and New Comedy (HSCP 68  99Google Scholar ff.) is a rather disappointing testimony from this learned scholar. Pippin (n.18) 154 f. draws attention to Aristophanic traits in the handling of the intrigue; cf. Verrall, A. W., Essays on Four Plays of Euripides (Cambridge 1905) 61Google Scholar. Strohm (n. 31) 77 talks about touches of ‘Amphitryon-Komik’ in the scenes leading up to the final recognition.
51 And after Helen, die scene between Tiresias and Cadmus in ßacchae (170 ff.). The best general treatments of Euripides’ introduction of comic elements into his plays are (1) Knox’s, B. M.W.essay, now most accessible in the collection of his papers Word and Action (Baltimore and London 1979) 250Google Scholar ff. (= Cheuse, A. and Koffler, R. [edd.]. The Rarer Action: Essays in Honor of Francis Fergusson [New Brunswick, N.J. 1971]68ff.)Google Scholar, and (2)B.Seidenstecker’smonograph (cited in n.10); cf. also e.g. Bates, W.N., Euripides: A Student of Human Nature (Philadelphia 1930)51CrossRefGoogle Scholar ff., Grube, G. M. A., The Drama of Euripides (London and New York 1941)131, 171, 332Google Scholar ff., 402f., Friedrich, W. H., Euripidei und Diphilos (Munich 1953)26Google Scholar ff., 87 f.,Michelini (n.6)66ff., 194 f.
52 Cf. Kannicht’s commentary on 435-82, Hamilton (n.43) 289 and Seidenstecker (n. 10) 175 ff.
53 Euripides perhaps intended to suggest to his audience that Menelaus’ two rejected ideas (on their ‘calm stupidity’ see e.g. Verrall [n.50J 111) were inspired not so much by real-life possibilities as by incidents portrayed in contemporary tragedy. Euripides had already featured escape by chariot in Medea (1321 ff.: 431 B.C.), and Sophocles a murder committed by two men concealed inside a palace in Electro (1367 ff.: cf. Dale’s commentary on Helen 1050 ff.); fouryears zfxsxHelen Euripides repeated the Sophoclean arrangement with variations of his own in Orestes (1119 f f.).
54 Schmid, Cf. W., Geschichte der griechischen Literatur 1.3 (Munich 1940) 690Google Scholar n. 6,693 f., Barrett’s, W. S.commentary (Oxford 1964)Google Scholaron Euripides. Hippolytus 478-81Google Scholar, and Vellacott, P., Ironic Drama (Cambridge 1975) 82Google Scholar ff. The difficulties of evaluating comments about women in Euripides are well illustrated by Goldhill, S., Reading Greek Tragedy (Cambridge 1986) 107CrossRefGoogle Scholar ff.; cf. also Heath, M., The Poetics of Greek Tragedy (London 1987) 160Google Scholar f.
56 On the dramatic stroke here cf. especially the commentaries of Dale (532-40) and Kannicht (528-96), and Seidenstecker (n.10) 179 f.
57 P. 7 above, and n. 28.
59 Cf. Ludwig (n.23) 108, Hamilton (n.43) 290, my paper in G&R 20 (1973) 62 ff. = Longo (n.6) 27 ff., and Seidenstecker (n. 10) 184.Google Scholar
61 In her commentary on 711 ff.
62 Cf. here Kannicht’ s discussion of the speech (commentary on 744-60), contrasting particularly (2.211 n.50) the approaches of Radermacher, L., RhMus. 53 (1898) 497Google Scholar ff. and Zuntz (n.47) 214 ff.
63 Versions of this paper have been given in Auckland, Maynooth, Milan (the Catholic University) and Trento. I am grateful to those who took part in the discussions in all these places, and also to Dr Malcolm Heath, Dr Michael Lloyd and Antichlhon’s anonymous reader, whocommented helpfully on an earlier draft.
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