Andromache, Hecuba, Trojan Women by Euripides (Review)

Andromache, Hecuba, Trojan Women by Euripides

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About the author

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Euripides (Ancient Greek: Εὐριπίδης) (ca. 480 BC–406 BC) was the last of the three great tragedians of classical Athens (the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles). Ancient scholars thought that Euripides had written ninety-five plays, although four of those were probably written by Critias. Eighteen of Euripides’ plays have survived complete. It is now widely believed that what was thought to be a nineteenth, Rhesus, was probably not by Euripides. Fragments, some substantial, of most of the other plays also survive. More of his plays have survived than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles together, partly because of the chance preservation of a manuscript that was probably part of a complete collection of his works in alphabetical order.

Blurb

Diane Arnson Svarlien’s translation of Euripides’ Andromache, Hecuba, and Trojan Women exhibits the same scholarly and poetic standards that have won praise for her Alcestis, Medea, Hippolytus. Ruth Scodel’s Introduction examines the cultural and political context in which Euripides wrote, and provides analysis of the themes, structure, and characters of the plays included. Her notes offer expert guidance to readers encountering these works for the first time.

Review

I got this book because Trojan Women is a set text that I am studying for my course but I must admit that I enjoyed reading Trojan Women so much I read the whole book.

I found the introduction and notes by Ruth Scodel hugely informative and really helpful with my research but also not too in depth and easy to read which was wonderful because sometimes introductions can be a bit of bore I find.

Andromache

I loved this play and my heart bled for poor Andromache, she really has not had the best of lives having already suffered losing her child and husband in Troy she now suffers in her new home as Neoptolemus’ concubine and risks losing everything including her life again.

Andromache is a wonderful character who tries to do everything she can to save her own life and her child’s and works out a plan that if it works should keep them both safe.

Hermione is a spoilt brat who is used to getting her own way and will do anything to get it and her father will let her get her own way. I found her character rather annoying but you could tell that was what Euripides was after.

My favourite character was Peleus, he was a true gentleman who though mature in years was not frightened to stand up for the weak and vulnerable and send Menelaus scurrying off with his tail between his legs.

I loved this play and would love to see it on stage one day.

Hecuba

Wow! What a character Hecuba is in this play. After everything she has been through with the fall of Troy and the knowledge that her future is bleak she still has strength.

Hecuba has lost her kingdom, her husband, most of her children but she believes her one son and some Trojan treasure is safe with a family friend Polymestor. However, she discovers that her beloved son Polydorus is no longer safe and Hecuba seeks revenge.

Agamemnon in this play seems very different to the Agamemnon that I am used to. He listens to Hecuba’s plea and lets her carry out her plan. He shows pity and in my opinion almost reverence for the fallen queen.

I loved this play because it showed the true power of a woman who seeks revenge.

Trojan Women

This play was heart breaking, you can’t help but feel sorry for the women of Troy and see the unfairness of war on those who are left behind.

Hecuba in this play disappointed me slightly because when she was mourning what she had lost the main thing she kept focusing on was her kingdom and the fact she was no longer queen. Her lost family always seemed to be an after thought.

Cassandra was perfect in my opinion and a hard act for any actress to perform. Poor Cassandra who has been dealt such a hard blow and is now mad.

Andromache, the perfect wife who is now left with nothing who you can’t help but pity. A stark contrast to Helen that you can’t help but hate.

Helen, the woman who brings destruction wherever she goes but gets away with it because of her beauty. Menelaus was basically a lamb to slaughter where Helen was concerned. As much as the women of Troy hated her and Hecuba made the case pretty clear that Helen should be punished, you just know that Menelaus will buckle and let Helen get away with her deeds.

All in all I loved these plays and thought the translation by Diane Arnson Svarlien was really well done, the added stage directions were also excellent. I give this book a big 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Trojan Women by Seneca (Review)

Trojan Women by Seneca (Translated by Frederick Ahl)

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About the author

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Lucius Annaeus Seneca (often known simply as Seneca) (ca. 4 BC – 65 AD) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero. While he was later forced to commit suicide for alleged complicity in the Pisonian conspiracy to assassinate Nero, the last of the Julio-Claudian emperors, he may have been innocent.

Blurb

This free and eloquent translation skilfully reproduces the imagery, power, and frequent irony and sarcasm of Seneca’s language.

Review

I recently read this play because it is required reading for my course, however before this my course had made me read Euripides’ Trojan Women and I find that personally I much prefer Euripides’ interpretation.

The play is about the aftermath of the war of Troy and is about the fate of the survivors of Troy which is sadly the women of Troy who no longer have husbands, fathers or brothers. They are on their own and their fates are left in the hands of the Greeks and those fates will not be good. There are also two tragedies left in the play for the audience to see.

I did enjoy Seneca’s interpretation but I did find it very long winded and some of the speeches just seemed to drag for me and because of this I found it hard to visualise the play on the stage. I also found the language quite stilted but this could be because of the translation by Frederick Ahl.

The other issue I did not like was I found the play overly graphic in places and found it hard to read. I just found the detail of the gore rather overboard but I suppose this is what the Romans enjoyed on stage.

I liked the play and must admit that if I had not read Euripides’ version first I might have enjoyed it more but Euripides’ version is faster paced and I could not put it down but Seneca’s version I was quite happy to have a break from.

I also really enjoyed the introduction by Frederick Ahl and found it very informative but did find it rather amusing to see differences between Ahl’s information and information from what I have discovered in my research.

Overall I found this play ok but it just lacked the wow factor for me, maybe I prefer the Greek playwrights to the Roman playwrights but it was a good read and I am glad I have discovered the works of Seneca and hope to read more. I give this play and translation 3 out of 5 Dragons.

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Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare (Review)

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

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About the author

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William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet, playwright and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in English history. He wrote 39 plays, 154 sonnets and other verses.

Blurb

The play centres on the twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. Viola (who is disguised as Cesario) falls in love with Duke Orsino, who in turn is in love with Countess Olivia. Upon meeting Viola, Countess Olivia falls in love with her thinking she is a man.

Review

This is another book off my Summer Goodreads Reading Challenge and the prompt for this one was to read a format of book you do not usually read so I chose a play because I have not read a play since school. I must admit I really enjoyed it and plan on reading more plays in the future.

I saw this play a few years ago live at a National Trust property outside and laughed a lot I have fond memories of yellow cross gartered stockings. I loved reading this play and it reminded me a great deal of the play when I saw it years ago. Shakespeare is a true comic genius and the use of this genius is evident in this play.

The storyline of the twins is brilliantly executed although I do think the ending is rather rushed but that might just be me wanting the play to last longer. I loved the character of Viola, trying to survive in a man’s world and at the same time falling in love with a man who she cannot go near without blowing her disguise. Sebastian’s part is small in comparison to Viola’s but still vital to the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this play and it only took me a few hours to read. I gave this book a full 5 out of 5 Dragons.

Purchase Links

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Summer Reading Challenge: Wheel of format

It is time for another book choice to add to the reading list!

I must admit I am rather worried about this prompt as it will take me out of my comfort zone. I know leaving your comfort zone is a good thing occasionally but it still worries me.

Wheel of format: Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read in (graphic novel, poetry, a play, an audiobook, etc)

So what shall I choose?

Firstly, I will discard the audiobook idea as I really do not get on with audiobooks. I am reading poetry weekly so that is off the list. So I think I will stick with graphic novels and plays as my choices.

Graphic novel options:-

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‘The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.’ With those words, millions of readers were introduced to Stephen King’s Roland ‘ an implacable gunslinger in search of the enigmatic Dark Tower, powering his way through a dangerous land filled with ancient technology and deadly magic. Now, in a comic book personally overseen by King himself, Roland’s past is revealed! Sumptuously drawn by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove, adapted by long-time Stephen King expert, Robin Furth (author of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: A Concordance), and scripted by New York Times Bestseller Peter David, this series delves in depth into Roland’s origins ‘ the perfect introduction to this incredibly realized world; while long-time fans will thrill to adventures merely hinted at in the novels. Be there for the very beginning of a modern classic of fantasy literature!

I actually own this one so that would be an easy choice. I read graphic novels when I did Media Studies for A Level but I didn’t study this one so I’m not entirely sure why I own it.

 

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Following the decimation of Mega-City One during Chaos Day, Judges from other ‘friendly’ Justice Departments have been brought in to strengthen the ranks and help maintain law and order on the streets. Amongst the newcomers is Fintan Joyce – son of a former Emerald Isle Judge, who teamed up with Judge Dredd in one of the most fondly remembered Dredd stories. Exploiting the Big Meg’s weakened state, several groups have risen up against the Judges, including the Goblin King’s Undercity army and a mutant group lead by the monstrous Thorn, who have been attacking Cursed Earth outposts. If things couldn’t get any worse, Dredd has fallen foul of Brit-Cit and they want him in prison or on a slab… Have the odds finally stacked up enough to spell the end of Mega-City One’s greatest lawman?

I have always been fan of Judge Dredd so this is very tempting.

 

Play options:-

I think I will consider all the plays by William Shakespeare other than the ones I have already read and they are not many.

The ones not on the list are:-

Macbeth

Romeo and Juliet

The Tempest

The Taming of the Shrew

Hamlet

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Lots of plays to choose from!

 

Lots of possible choices to mull over for this one. Any advice would be gratefully received.

 

Happy reading!

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Birthday Treats

For my birthday my wonderful husband bought us both tickets to see The Cursed Child parts 1 & 2 with a one night stay in a very posh hotel.

So this weekend found us both in London at the Palace Theatre.

I remember reading the script as soon as the book came out in 2016 after waiting and waiting for the book to arrive. I will be honest the story was a slight disappointment however the actual play was amazing! On Goodreads I only rated the book as 2 stars, my husband gave the same rating.

I am so pleased the script did not put me off as I would have missed out on an amazing stage production.

The first thing that struck me was the amazing stage effects, how they did all the magic was just wonderful and the choreography that went with it was the icing on the cake. The second part was the music, there was no hint of the music from all the Harry Potter films in it. The music stood on its own and was just stunning, it really helped back and move the storyline forward. The only thing I would say is that sometimes the music was a little on the loud side.

Finally there was the acting. The actors were phenomenal, how they kept their energy up for the two parts was unbelievable. The star of the show in my opinion was the actor who played Scorpius. He was amazingly talented and his energy was electric. I think the actors who played Harry, Ron and Hermione were excellent, as they had hard acts to follow from the three actors we know so well from the films. Ron in particular was my favourite, he was just as fun and as happy as he always was and I am happy that did not change.

All in all I loved the play even though I still can not get used to the storyline, it was an amazing day and I can not recommend it enough.

I also visited a new book store during the gap between the two parts. I went to Foyle’s bookshop and I loved it! Sadly I did not buy anything from there as I did not want to be carrying lots of books in to the theatre but I had a good explore. I really loved the layout so open and brightly lit, and the sheet music selection was incredible! I was completely overwhelmed but I desperately want to go back (another trip to London in the planning I think).

Sunday was a relaxing day exploring The Natural History Museum and I might have bought a T-Rex toy wearing a Christmas jumper because dinosaurs are awesome and even better in Christmas jumpers.

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