whatever Hectors feelings Rhesumere appearance would causa panic among thfoet watchmen eventually psuadHector ccept Rin hicamp

Transmitted among the plays of Euripides, but disputed to have been written by him ever since Antiquity,is probably a mid-fourth century tragedy that takes place some fifty days before the ending of thesneak into the Trojan camp. It begins at night, with a few Trojan Watchmen (the Chorus) waking upto inform him that there is some activity in the Greek camp and that they might be fleeing.s benefit and attack straightaway is placated by suggestion to send a spy beforehand; Dolon accepts the mission on the condition that he is given horses as spoil of battle at the end of the war. As Dolon leaves (disguised as a wolf), a shepherd arrives at the Trojan camp and announces the arrival of the Thracian kingwith his powerful army. Even though Rhesus has come to help the Trojans, Hector doesnt welcome him gently, admonishing him for appearing so late in the war. Rhesus gives an explanation for his belatednessScythian invasions of his home countrywhich Hector accepts; from thereon, the two move on to devising a plan of attack for the next morning which should prove to be fatal for the Greeks. Soon after Hector sends Rhesus and his men to a camping-place,and Diomedes appear, having captured Dolon and unwavering in their determination to kill the Trojan leaders while they sleep. The goddessappears and suggests the two to slay Rhesus first and take his horses as war spoils. The plan is threatened to go awry whenappears, but the Trojan prince is deceived by. Soon after, a wounded Thracian charioteer announces the death of Rhesus and blames the theft of his horses on Hector. Hector, however, is pretty sure that this must be the work of Odysseussomething which the mother of Rhesus (a Muse) confirms after suddenly appearing with the body of her son. In addition to Odysseus, she also blames Athena for Rhesus death, and threatens to never again visit the city ofor bring to it any other learned men.

Even thoughRhesushas come to us in an anthology of Euripides tragedies, both its date and its authorship are questionable. And this seems to have always been the case, as evidenced by thehypothesis(the introduction) of the play in the anthology itself which explicitly says that some suppose that this drama is apocryphal, believing it is not by Euripides.

Considering all the internal indications, many modern scholars deemRhesusa very late play, most probably written in the mid-fourth century by a Macedonian author (compare the remark of the Muse onAthensat the end of the play). However, if it was written by Euripides, then it must be an early work, with some dating it all the way back to 450 BC.

•Hector, son ofPriam, Trojan prince, and the greatest warrior forTroyin theTrojan war

•Rhesus, a mighty warrior, the king of Thrace, a Trojan ally

•Odysseus, Greek king ofIthaca, the most cunning of all Greek soldiers under Troy

•Diomedes, Greek king ofArgos, one of the best warriors of all theAchaeans

•Muse, unnamed; one of the nine goddesses of inspiration, mother of Rhesus

•Charioteerof Rhesus chariot in the role of a Messenger

A Trojan outpost near the Greek camp in the tenth year of theTrojan War.

Unlike almost every play written in the second half of the fifth century, EuripidesRhesusdoesnt begin with a prologue (although an ancient hypothesisi.e., an introductionsuggests that the play might have had one), but with a parodos (entrance song of the Chorus) taking the form of epirrhematic dialogue (sequence of sung and recited sections) between the Chorus of Trojan watchmen and Hector. It starts with the watchmen waking up Hector in the middle of the night to report to him that the long night through the Argive army has kindled fires, and bright with torches shines their anchored fleet. They are not sure what this might mean, but it doesnt stop them from rousing Hector: To arms! they say. Hector, seek your allies sleeping camp! Stir them up to wield the spear! Awake them!

The discussion between the Chorus and Hector continues in the first part of the second episode. Hector interprets the fires as a sign that the Greeks are fleeing, but isnt as happy as he probably should be, blaming himself for listening to the advice of the Trojan seers and delaying his already planned attack on the Greek camp for the morning. If he hadnt done that, he says, he would be the one to set fire to the Greek ships and the one making his way from tent to tent and drenching his hand in Achaean blood. Be that as it may, he can do the next best thing: awake his soldiers and order them to attack in great numbers the retreating Greeks, so that many an Achaean, as he leaps aboard his ship, shall be smitten through the back and sprinkle the ladders with blood, and others shall be fast bound with cords and learn to till our Phrygian fields.

The Chorus is suddenly far more cautious: You hasten, Hector, they say to him, before you know clearly what is happening; for we do not know for certain whether the men are flying. Fortunately, this feeling is shared by Aeneas who joins the company after having noticed, half-asleep, the midnight conclave around Hectors bed. Let us leave our men to sleep calmly under arms after the weariness of battle, advises Aeneas, while we send whoever will volunteer to spy upon the enemy; and if the Greeks really are preparing to fly, let us arise and fall upon the Argive army. However, if this signaling is a trap to catch us, we shall discover from the spy the enemys designs and take counsel. Since the Watchmen are fully behind Aeneas proposal, Hector agrees with them. The discussion between the two is barely finished when Dolon arrives, volunteering to be the spy, but hoping to receive fitting wages for the endeavor. Hector agrees with the proposal and offers Dolon a few possible rewardsa daughter ofPriam, gold, to have the honor of killingAjaxbut Dolon refuses them all and asks forAchilles immortal horses instead. Even though Hector had hoped to get them, he yields to Dolons wishes and promises him the horses.

As Dolon camouflages himself as a wolfplanning to deceive the Greeks by walking on all foursthe Chorus celebrates his success in advance in the first stasimon of the play, a sort of prologue to the final Trojan victory in the war.

Just as soon as Dolon leaves, a shepherd arrives before Hectors tent to announce the arrival of King Rhesus, mounted like a god upon his Thracian chariot, at the head of a powerful army. The number of this army, explains excitedly the messenger to Hector, you could not reckon to an exact sum, for it was beyond ones comprehension; many knights, many ranks of targeteers, many archers, a great crowd of light-armed troops, arrayed in Thracian garb, to bear them company. Such the man who comes to Troys assistance, whom the son ofPeleuswill never escape, either if he tries to escape or if he meets him spear to spear.

The Chorus greets the news quite enthusiastically, but Hector is not that impressed. I shall find many friends now that fortune smiles upon my warring andZeusis on my side, he says, implying that Rhesus is an opportunist who has joined his forces only after realizing that the Trojans will win the war. Suggesting that it is never smart to chase away your own alliesand claiming that, whatever Hectors feelings Rhesus mere appearance would cause a panic among the foethe watchmen eventually persuade Hector to accept Rhesus in his camp.

The watchmen rejoice in this outcome in the second stasimon, celebrating the greatness of Rhesus, son of the river god and a Muse. Come, appear, brandish that shield of gold full in Achilles face, they sing. For none after facing you will ever join the dance on the plains of ArgiveHera; no, but he shall die, slain by Thracians, and this land shall bear the burden of his corpse and be glad.

Rhesus finally arrives and greets Hector, while announcing his intention to help the Trojan prince raze the Greek walls and fire their fleet of ships. Noting that he never wants to be anything but honest, Hector replies by openly reprimanding Rhesus for arriving too late in the war and accusing him of being a bad ally. It was I with this arm that raised you from your paltry princedom to high lordship over Thrace, says Hector, reminding him of the time when he helped him establish his power in Thrace. But you have trampled on this great favor done you, and come with laggard step to give your aid when friends are in distress.

Rhesus justifies his belatedness by pointing out that as much as Troy needed him during the past few years, his country needed him even more, because the Scythians had opened war on Thrace on the very eve of his intended departure for Troy. In addition, it was not easy for him to reach Troy even after defeating the Scythians: unlike Hector who was probably sleeping soft at the time in his gilded palace, Rhesus had to pass through the frozen hurricanes that vex the Thracian sea and the Paeonian shores. Finally, even though he comes ten years after the start of the war, its basically as if he has come on the very first day, since neither side has ever made any progress in a decade. But the light of one day will be enough for me to sack those towers and fall upon their anchored fleet and slay theAchaeans, boasts Rhesus, promising to also impale Odysseus, the wiliest of all Greek commandeers, at the outlet of the Trojan gates and set him up for winged vultures to make their meal upon. Hector is eventually convinced and, after telling him the password (Phebus), advises Rhesus to immediately go to his quarters and wait for Dolons return before making his next step.

In the third (epirrhematic) stasimon, the watchmen from the Chorus discuss between themselves Dolons safety and the coming dawn, before disbanding to make place for the next shift, the fifth watch.

Suddenly, Odysseus and Diomedes appear, discussing the Trojan password and carrying some spoils stripped from Dolonwhom they have most probably murdered if the tenth book ofOdysseyis any evidence of the subtext. However, the two mention nothing of the sort, and instead discuss at some length the whereabouts of Hector, in hope that they might find him asleep and kill him. However, Hector is nowhere to be found, and the darkness is too permeating to allow Odysseus and Diomedes to identify any other important Trojanherobefore its too late. The two are about to give up and have, in principle, agreed to return to the Greek camp when, suddenly, the goddess Athena appears from above and suggests them that they go and kill the Thracian king, Rhesus. If he survives this night until the dawn, the goddess warns them, neither Achilles norAjaxs spear can stop him from utterly destroying the Argive fleet, razing its palisades and carrying this the onslaught of his lance far and wide within the gates.

As Odysseus and Diomedes assign each other duties, Athena notices Paris coming toward them and advises the two to head towards the Thracian camp and leave Paris alone for it is fated for him to die by anothers hand. The two leave, and when Paris arrivesdetermined to wake his brother Hector for fear of spiesAthena disguises herself asAphrodite, Paris guardian-goddess, and distracts him just long enough so that he is unable to alert the Trojans before Rhesus is murdered by Odysseus and Diomedes.

After the deed is done, the Greeks hastily try to leave the camp, but, at just that moment, they are confronted by the final night shift of Trojan watchmen (the Chorus reappears at this point after leaving the scene at the end of the third episodes). The watchmen are initially confident that theyve caught some spies, but Odysseus fools them by pretending to be Trojan and using the correct password. However, after they let the Greeks go, the Trojan watchmen start wondering whether they might have just let Odysseus slip through their fingers: after all, he is sly and devious enough to devise this kind of ploy.

One of the watchmen hears somebodys groans and bids the others to be silent. A second later, Rhesus wounded charioteer crawls before them and informs the Chorus, in quite a hectic manner, that the Thracian prince has been slain by a treacherous blow. The watchmen want to learn some more, and the charioteer gives a full account of the events surrounding his masters death. The last thing he remembers before going asleephe sayswas noticing two suspicious shadows which, afterward, in his dreams, transformed into wolves riding away with Rhesus horses. It was then that he awoke from his nightmare to see Rhesus being slaughtered by two Trojans who subsequently went away with his horses. He is all but sure that one of them was Hector, not only because he was never really welcoming of the Thracians, but also because the charioteer knows for a fact that he had coveted Rhesus stallions.

Never may such longing for horses seize me that I should slay my friends! says Hector upon arriving at the spot. This is the work of Odysseus; for who of all theArgivesbut he would have devised or carried out such a deed? I fear him. Though the charioteer is not convinced even after being taken away to Hectors palace to be tended most carefully, the watchmen seem to believe their leader and, blamed by him for their role in the events (not noticing the Greeks), start bewailing Troys destiny.

Just then, Rhesus mother, an unnamed Muse, appears from above, holding the body of Rhesus in her arms. In addition to mourning his death, she reveals to the present that Odysseus and Diomedes were responsible for the death of her son, and curses Athena as an accessory to her sons murder and as the guardian-goddess of the city of Athens. She bemoans the fact that she and her sister have done special honors to Athenas city in the past, and promises to never again bring a learned man to Athens. Finally, she predicts the foundation of a Thracian cult celebrating the life of her son Rhesus, and granting him thus the immortality he has always deserved.

The play ends with Hector giving orders to the watchmen regarding the military operations for the subsequent dawn. Go, bid our allies arm at once and yoke the horses, he says, for I hope to pass beyond the Greek army and walls and fire the ships of the Achaeans.

The main point at issue with regard toRhesusseems to have always beenever since Antiquitywhether it was, indeed, written by Euripides or by a late, anonymous tragedian. The answer to this question affects the interpretation of the play in a profound manner: if by Euripides,Rhesusis probably either his earliest tragedy or an experimental pro-satyric melodrama that might have originally taken the fourth place in a supposed tetralogy; if written by someone else a few decades after Euripides death, thenRhesuscan hardly be considered something more than a paradigmatic example of the rumored artistic decadence at the time, as it is evidently long on thrills and short on substance (Storey and Allan). And indeed, as bereft of substance as it might be,Rhesusis quite an ambitious play in terms of its production values. For one, it is the only surviving play from the fifth or fourth century whose action is set entirely in the darkness of night (ThaliaPapadopoulou). Secondly, it doesnt shy away from intertextually playing around with Homers verses, freely using actions and speeches from the tenth book of theIliadand adapting them in a rather surprising and disorienting manner: some things that in Homer happen to Greek characters, inRhesusare transferred to Trojan ones (Marco Fantuzzi). Thirdly,Rhesusis, arguably, the only tragedy that has reached us to need four different actors, because before Paris enters the stage in the middle of the fourth episode, none of Odysseus, Diomedes, or Athena seem to leave it. Finallyand perhaps most spectacularlythere is not one, but two divine interventions in theRhesus, as both Athena and the Muse (Rhesus mother) seem to appear from above,ex machina. The appearance of the latter happens at the end of the play and is expected: over half of Euripides surviving plays end that way. However, Athenas appearance is very peculiar since it happens in the middle of the play, its only equivalent being the beginning of the fourth episode of EuripidesHeracles.

On the whole, however, the fairly shortRhesus(about half the length of an average Euripidean tragedy) seems to lack tragic depth and proper character development to be Euripidean. In fact, its authenticity was questioned first on aesthetic grounds, and that might say enough about the tragedys place in Euripides canon.

There are many translations ofRhesusavailable online, both in verse and in prose; if you are a fan of the latter, you can read E. P. Coleridges translation for Loeb Classical Libraryhere. If, however, you prefer poetry, feel free to delve into Arthur S. Way blank verse adaptationhere.

See Also: Rhesus, Euripides, Hector, Odysseus

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whatever Hectors feelings Rhesumere appearance would causa panic among thfoet watchmen eventually psuadHector ccept Rin hicamp插图