Imagine a time when you were happily eating dinner with your family. Now imagine if in an instant, that being stripped away from your life. War during Ca. 400BC, the time period constantly exemplified an unsure notion of personal safety and safety of your loved ones. The famous playwright, Euripides (485 B.C.-406 B.C.), artistically attacks his own government for their involvement with the Peloponnesian War (499-449 B.C.), which “left Athens bankrupt, exhausted and demoralized.” (Kagen). Consequently Euripides used his magnificent talent of playwriting to publicly criticize the society in which he lived. In his two famous plays, The Women of Troy and Helen, he uses the Queen of Sparta, Helen, as a pawn piece to exemplify the horrible affects that war possesses. Euripides uses his two different Helen characters to describe to his audience that there are always two sides of “innocence” and “complicity” imbedded in war.
Two years before Euripides’ second play, Women of Troy, Athens attacked an island off the coast of Greece called Melos. The small island was ransacked, slaughtered, and enslaved simply because the islanders refused to support Athens’ role in the Peloponnese War. During this siege, Euripides would have witnessed the mass number of enslaved women and children. Subsequently, he wrote his second brilliant play: Women of Troy, which strongly disapproved of Athens actions. In this dark tragedy, Euripides grants voice to the normally silenced women and thusly explores the innocence of war. The play contains numerous monologues of pure detriment. Hecuba, the Queen of Troy, is the character who expresses such atrocities. Euripides negatively accuses Helen to be the cause of devastation of war through Hecuba’s spoken words, such as the destruction of Troy and the slaughter of the men who fought for the great empire. Hecuba plays a key role in cataloguing Helen as “a bitch-whore” (Hughes 263). “I’ve done, Menelaus, kill her. For you, For Greece! Let her death teach all unfaithful wives” (Women of Troy, pg. 26). Hecuba, truly the innocent, the brave, the disgraced Queen of Troy, spits on Helen’s name when speaking to Menelaus because Helen doomed her beloved home. Out of pure anger, Hecuba savagely wants Helen dead for bringing destruction upon her monumental empire.
Euripides uses his play Women of Troy to represent Helen as “a bitch-whore” solely for the purpose to show that in the Trojan War, she is guilty for countless murders. In Women of Troy, Menelaus wants Helen dead for running off and sleeping with Paris. Helen fights with strong conviction for her life. Constantly throughout history, the ten excruciating years of the Trojan War are blamed repeatedly on Helen. “On that adulterous whore a ten years’ hate” (Brooke. Line 3). However, we learn a different egotistical side of our sweet Helen in Women of Troy. Throughout Women of Troy, the audience is constantly slapped in the face by her short, arrogant remarks that defile her own rebuttals to why she should be spared. “I should be wearing a victor’s crown. Instead, I’m sold for my beauty, Spat upon” (Women of Troy, pg. 24). Helen makes blatant remarks of her importance that manifest a negative aspect of her character. “All I and Paris did, Was to benefit Greece, not Troy” (Women of Troy, pg. 24). Euripides magnifies that when Helen is faced with the pertinent threat of death, Helen roughly blames all fault on the gods. Many may argue that Helen indeed was innocent in Women of Troy, and that she is simply just trying to fight for her life. However, Helen uses pompous language and sarcastic statements throughout her plead to Menelaus that result in nothing but feelings of utter disgust toward the begging Helen. “How could I win? The gods did this. Do you challenge their will, their power? Are you so foolish?” (Women of