Satire in the Tragedies of Euripides

1443 WordsJul 11, 20186 Pages
The world of Euripides' tragedies was one that espoused ancient ideas of religion. The belief in ancient legends that formed subject material for the tragic drama had passed. The crowd that attended the theater at this time did so as a sort of religious celebration. It was under these circumstances that Euripides had to bury what might have been his true beliefs, and instead replace them with ideas that would relate to his audience. This did not mean that Euripides had to forgo his beliefs entirely. Rather, this meant that Euripides had to include his own interpretations of these ancient beliefs in a way that was not outwardly corrupt or blasphemous. By exploiting the human dimension of understanding beliefs, Euripides was able to insert…show more content…
The next example of satire is in Ion as translated by Robert Potten. In this play, Euripides allows for the characters to express their disgust for the ancient deities. “Is it then Just” exclaims Ion, “that you who gave the laws / to mortals, should yourselves transgress those laws?” (lines 450-451). Ion goes on to express his contempt with the gods that can clearly be seen as satirical: The penalty of forced embraces, thou, Neptune, and Jove, that reigns supreme in heaven, Will leave your temples treasure-less by paying The mulcts of your injustice (lines 454-457). This reveals the nature of the satire that Euripides chose to pursue. This was more of a rhetorical example of how the gods fail in their own laws, yet man is bound by them. In using the fallacy of begging the question, Euripides allows for the audience to think that they can answer the question differently, yet Euripides has already put the conclusion, or answer, within the prose by using the premise, “Will leave your temples treasure-less...” (line 456). In Heracles, as translated by E.P. Coleridge, we can see a similar sort of satire being used to question the gods. Amphytron, husband of Alcmene, who is the mother of Heracles, continuously uses satire when speaking of the gods. In his complaint against Zeus, for the seduction of Alcmene, and for abandoning Heracles, Amphytron states, “O Zeus, in vain it seems, did I get thee to share my bride with me; in

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