Justice and Revenge in Euripides’ Hecabe


  • David Movrin University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts




ancient Greek literature, Greek drama, Greek tragedy


Hecuba (Hekabe), once considered one of Euripides’ most successful tragedies – iure principem locum tenet, ‘it deservedly holds the pride of place’, according to its Renaissance editor – was relegated to the margins of literary attention by the scathing judgments of Romantic critics, who found fault with – among other things – its bipartite structure. It did not make its comeback until the 20th century, when it was identified as an ‘absolute tragedy’, possibly the darkest of the preserved Euripidean plays. Contemporary scholarship notes that the action of Hecuba is subtly welded together by the heroine’s search for justice, while the world around her neglects the basic postulates of Greek ethics, ordered by the reciprocity principle – concepts such as ξενία, ‘hospitality shown to a guest’, αἰδώς, a difficult term to translate, denoting ‘shame’, ‘reverence’, or ‘awe’, χάρις, ‘gratitude’ or ‘favour’, and ἱκετεία, ‘supplication’. Realising that nobody will help her obtain justice, Hecuba decides to find it on her own, taking brutal revenge on the ‘head-for-an-eye’ principle. While still acceptable by Athenian standards, this revenge finally makes the former Trojan queen more callous even than her tormentors: having lost all she had, she loses herself as well.


Download data is not yet available.


24. 12. 2011




How to Cite

Movrin, David. 2011. “Justice and Revenge in Euripides’ Hecabe”. Keria: Studia Latina Et Graeca 13 (2): 45-55. https://doi.org/10.4312/keria.13.2.45-55.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 > >>