polutrope: (in ur troy!)
So as has been said before, my production of Hippolytus is not going to happen, or at least not this year (we'll have to recruit freshmen & sophomores to replace out seniors, but oh well), but I'm still working as if it will, id est memorizing my lines and translating. Tragedy is still a pain in the butt - give me Homer any day - but I am struggling through it, and laughing at how bitchy Artemis is, for serious. Speech to Theseus, paraphrased:

You were dumb. You killed your son because you were dumb.
You could have waited but you were taken in by your wife's lies.
I hate you now and so does your father.

And this is my character! Admittedly, my other character is Aphrodite, whose prologue consists of "Gee, I hate Hippolytus and am going to kill him. Also Phaedra, but I don't really care about her." But she's got the gloriously evil bastard thing going for her. Artemis just makes everything worse for the already miserable Theseus.

But I did get a little teary over her exchange with Hippolytus, which might have been written for me. She can't do anything to save him even though she wants to! "O patient one, what a destiny you are joined to/ your own nobility has destroyed you." It's really sweet, if you disregard how she's just ripped into Theseus for, essentially, loving and trusting his wife.

I love you, Euripides!

Edit: "Do you see me, mistress, see my pains?" :'(
Also maybe I am in a Mood or something, but even the fact that she's not allowed to cry makes me teary.
polutrope: (sleep is for pussies)
I'm halfway through The Darkness that Comes Before, which I'd been vaguely eying since it came out (in 2004!), and really, it's pretty decent. But I really wish he'd be less obvious about the Crusade parallel: so there's a really charismatic new leader of the "main religion"(which is at least polytheistic, thanks for not making it totally blatant) who announces a holy war against people who have control of the Holy City. Also there's an empire with really involved court protocols that used to be a lot bigger but they lost to the people against whom the war has been declared. And there was a groundswell among the common people, whom the leaders have now sent out to get killed. And they call it "taking the Tusk." In sum, have fun with the First Crusade, guys! Hint: it doesn't turn out well.

Oh also, random diacritical marks. This is a fairly obvious pet peeve, and one that needs to be ignored if you want to read fantasy, pretty much, but this guy went through the trouble of making language trees. Now that I look at it again, I think it's actually to show that vowels are pronounced separately, but "ao" is not a diphthong in English, so it's not really necessary. Also circumflexes. I think Tolkien pretty much admitted they were just there to look foreign in Dwarvish, which is cool - because it really does. But why is there a circumflex in "Anasûrimbor"?

On a completely different note, after a four month lapse, we're evidently doing the Hippolytus. I highly doubt it's going to happen: we haven't rehearsed or even seen each other for the previously-mentioned four months; we have no funds or costumes; no translation; and most importantly, no venue. And this is all going to come together by May. My pessimism aside, I am going to work hard on this, until it dies a lamentable death, and so I've started my translation! I have missed Greek, and I wish I'd been functional enough to work on it before. I went through the first thirty lines like a whirlwind, in part because I remember a startling amount of it from tenth grade.

And to switch again, I am pretty sure a witch has cursed my lime sorbet. It has now been in the freezer for almost two days and it is not even close to frozen.
polutrope: (sleep is for pussies)
We're putting on Hippolytus in Greek, as I may have mentioned once, and I just bought a copy of Racine's Phèdre, because I love it to bits and realized that I don't own it. So of course I'm thinking about both of them a lot. It's really a shame that the Racine is based on Hippolytus; it would be much fairer to it if I could read it alone and not as an adaptation of the Euripides. It's not that I like it less, only that I keep comparing it, and weighing the interpretation of the characters.

And it's sort of on this basis that I've decided Phèdre's weaker. The addition of Aricie isn't just "lame" because she has no character at all (which she doesn't); it would weaken the play even if she were the most dynamic character imaginable. It changes a conflict of ideologies, of Hippolytus' inflexibility against Aphrodite's power, represented by Phaedra, to a choice between two women.

That is to say, there is no possibility that Hippolytus will agree to the nurse's request that he take Phaedra as a lover. He hates women and loves his chastity. By creating a Hippolyte who loves a woman, Racine makes the opposition not between two life-paths, but the more normal, and thus if not less interesting, less extreme, choice between one woman and another. There are, of course, moral differences between choosing Aricie and Phèdre - Phèdre is still Hippolyte's step-mother and the wife of his father - but it's not the choice between absolute purity and sexual activity that Hippolytus is forced to make.

Both plays, of course, are products of their time. Hippolytus, like much of Greek drama and epic, warns against the dangers of inflexibility and stubbornness. (Of course, because if Euripides wasn't an atheist, he certainly didn't like the gods, Hippolytus is also about the impossibility of pleasing a goddess who would destroy a man simply for not choosing to follow her path. Even then, Hippolytus' crime isn't only not engaging in sexual activity, it's really the long speech about the evils of women. Without that attitude, he would be acceptable; but in that speech he shows that he doesn't just choose to abstain from Aphrodite's realm, he scorns it and hates it, which is always a bad move.)

In any case, products of their time. Euripides treats subjects that Greeks were accustomed to see in the theater; Racine writes the story that a 17th century French audience wants to see - a love story, couched in the specific and formulaic language of the French Classical theater. Racine could not have written a play with no love story; it was, like someone saying "hélas" at least three times, a requirement of the form.

For me the conflict between who Hippolytus is - a man who chose chastity and Artemis - and who Aphrodite, goddess of all that he hates, wants him to be is much more interesting than a love triangle. But they're not really comparable and perhaps shouldn't be; and yet I can't help it.
polutrope: (sleep is for pussies)
I have clearly gone completely insane, but I think it's in a good way, or at least a way that's relevant to my major.

A couple of people and I are doing a production of Hippolytus in the original Ancient Greek: we've got most of our cast and have possibilities for the two people we don't have; we have professorial support for the idea and for the reading; we have texts; we have ideas for staging; and last but not least, we have funding!

When we went to the head of department (who is also our Vergil professor, Feeney) he said essentially that he'd been waiting for someone to do something like this the whole time he'd been head.

We're going to have a chorus and try to get music, and Professor Katz can help us with pronunciation, and it's going to be painfully awesome. And a lot of work, but I think it's manageable.

(We were waiting outside Professor Feeney's office, and we heard that he was talking with our prospective Theseus. We waited for him to come out and cornered him, then told him about the plan. He agreed. So now we only need Phaedra's nurse and Hippolytus himself.)

The only downside to this is that it means I can't take five classes next semester, but oh well. I've been told it's a bad idea in any case.
polutrope: (Default)
I should really write that essay. It shouldn't be that hard - I know both Phèdre and Hippolytus inside out (although not actually having an English version of Hippolytus is unhelpful). I think it's perhaps my current state of deepest fatigue.

Main points
-Taking the gods out of it makes it slightly less cohesive and takes away a level of complexity.
-Euripides's characters are much more likeable (even Hippolytus when he's at his highest levels of incoherent misogyny) since it is much more obvious that the Nurse has Phaedra's best interests at heart, and Phaedra's committing suicide before she knows that the situation is completely lost shows more fortitude. (Or perhaps not. But I think that Phèdre's trying to get the best of both worlds.)
-Euripides doesn't have Aricie. (Not, of course, in so many words, but: Hippolytus's protestations of purity are actually justifiable, rather than Hippolyte saying that he was going to avoid women and then falling for Aricie as soon as he thought it would be all right.)
-Euripides presents Hippolytus's not telling Theseus about Phaedra as a struggle between an oath that H. swore and what he knows he should do.

Theseus comes out of both fairly well: He comes home, unaware of everything and finds that his wife is dead, with a plaque saying that his son raped her/ neither his son nor his wife will speak to him and his son says he's leaving. I think that of all the people you could blame for Hippolytus's death, Theseus is last: yes, he acted on very little evidence, but I like to think that he loved and trusted Phaedra. (Based on two lines of evidence - "never will I hear her sweet conversation more" or words to that effect.)

And now for something completely different:
There could be no grosser misconception of the realities than is entertained by those who vociferously demand legislation as they call it “against discrimination”, whether they be leader-writers of the same kidney and sometimes on the same newspapers which year after year in the 1930s tried to blind this country to the rising peril which confronted it... From Enoch Powell’s speech to the Annual General Meeting of the West Midlands Area Conservative Political Centre, Birmingham, England, April 20, 1968. See, Greek class? I'm right.


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