Misery and Forgiveness in Euripides: Meaning and Structure in the 'Hippolytus' by Boris Nikolsky Translated by: Mikhail Nikolsky
ISBN: 9781910589038 hardback, 2015, GB £58.00
 

The tragedies of Euripides are among the most admired works of Greek literature. They are valued especially in our own day for their sceptical attitude to authority and divinity, for their psychological complexity and for their sympathetic but unsentimental portrayal of assertive women. In this striking new monograph, Boris Nikolsky reinterprets a Euripidean tragedy which combines these qualities to the highest degree, the Hippolytus. Nikolsky questions the current gender and psychoanalytical approaches to Hippolytus and challenges the widespread interpretations of the play as being concerned with the irresistible force of love and the inevitability of punishment for those who underestimate its power. He reads the play in terms of its own culture and argues that Euripides' primary interest lies rather in the sphere of morality. Arguing from the dramatic structure of Hippolytus, its imagery and the problems of its production, the author proposes a new interpretation of the play's main theme: humans turn out to be not culprits but victims of fate, their will always tends towards virtue, but their natural weakness and the ambivalence of virtue itself lead them to wrong actions.

In consequence, it is exoneration and forgiveness that are shown to be the highest and only pure moral values.

About the Author

Boris Nikolsky is a graduate of Moscow State University and of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. Since 1995 he has been teaching Classics at the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow, and since 2013 is Principal Research Fellow at the School of Humanities of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. He has been Junior Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington (2002-3), Diderot Fellow at the University of Grenoble (2007), and Fulbright Fellow at Brown University (2010). He has also published a commentary on Cicero’s De finibus (2000, in Russian).

 

CONTENTS

Introduction

Chapter 1 Involuntary Faults, Exculpation and Forgiveness

Chapter 2 Speech and Vision

Chapter 3 The Quality of αζδωσ and the Ambivalence of Virtue

Chapter 4 The Virtue of Hippolytus and Phaedra

Chapter 5 Humans, Gods and the Structure of the Dramatic Conflict

Chapter 6 Images of Nature

Chapter 7 Scenic and Dramatic Space

Notes

Acknowledgements