A READING OF EURIPIDES’ “HELEN”
IN THE LIGHT OF ARISOTLE’S “POETICS”
by Harlem Jude P. Ferolino
“Helen” is an ancient tragedy written by Euripides in 412 BCE. In this play, Euripides created his own version of the story of Helen, showing that she was never unfaithful to Menelaus, her husband. She never abandoned Menelaus and went to Troy with Paris unlike what the common myth says– it was her fake double who did – because she was just supernaturally transported to Egypt by Hermes, on Hera’s command, where she was patiently waiting for her husband to find her. When the shipwrecked Menelaus appeared in Egypt, things got complicated.
According to N.S. Gill,
“Euripides wrote about women and mythological themes like Medea and Helen of Troy. He enhanced the importance of intrigue in tragedy. Some aspects of Euripides' tragedy seem more at home in comedy than in tragedy, and, indeed, Euripides is considered to have been a significant influence on the Greek creation of New Comedy, a development in comedy that comes later than Euripides and his contemporary, the most familiar writer of Old Comedy, Aristophanes.” (2013)
In this paper, we will determine the quality of Euripides’ “Helen” as a tragedy considering the principles in Aristotle’s “Poetics”, focusing on the two important parts, namely the Plot and Character. The paper will also discuss Thought, Diction, Song, and Spectacle as other parts of Tragedy.