Background: Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles. He is said to have written between 92 to 95 plays, only about nineteen completed. Euripides is identified with theatrical innovations that have profoundly influenced drama down to modern times, especially in the representation of traditional, mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. This new approach led him to pioneer developments that later writers adapted to comedy, some of which are characteristic of romance.
Great Books of the Western World. Ed. Mortimer Adler. 2nd ed. Vol.4. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1993. 316-333. Print.
Excerpt One [of Two]
“I came to this country, tended the oxen of this host and friend, Admetus, son of Pheres. I have kept his house from danger, cheated the Fates to save his life until this day, for he revered my sacred rights sacredly, and the fatal goddesses allowed Admetus to escape the moment of his death by giving the lower powers someone else to die instead of him. He tried his loved ones all in turn, father and aged mother who had given him birth, and found not one, except his wife, who would consent to die for him, and not see daylight any more.” (316)
Explication: This excerpt of a play about cheating death in trade for immortality. I think this play is an example of how immortality can harbor consequences for its trade off. It shows that the cost that immortality demands is far more than expected. Immortality comes at the cost of the lives of others in exchange for one continuous life. “Immortal people” represented by the king in this play, may not consider the consequences of immortality unless it is directly affecting them.
Question: If immortality can exist in the body as well as the soul, then does the soul dissipate until there only remain an empty body willing to let a loved one die in its place?
Excerpt Two “Paean, my lord, Apollo, make some way of escape for Admetus. Grant it, oh grant it. Once you found rescue in him. Be now in turn his redeemer from death. Oppose bloodthirsty Hades.” (319)
Explication: The commoners of the Thessalian kingdom beg for pity on Admetus in the demise of his wife, Alcestis, who is dying in his place to save and prolong his life. They’re asking the immortal god to once again spare Admetus of a tragedy instead it being his wife’s death. I wonder why he’s allowing his wife to die in his place. Is this seen in the eyes of love or in the ones of greed?
Question: Will Admetus’ soul be punished for greed or will Alcestis’ soul be rewarded for a noble and selfless gesture?
Philosophical Essay Two
Background: Plato was a philosopher in Classical Greece. He was also a mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the foundations of Western philosophy and science. Plato's dialogues have been used to teach a range of subjects, including philosophy, logic, ethics, rhetoric, and mathematics. Plato is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy.
Great Books of the Western World. Ed. Mortimer Adler. 2nd ed. Vol. 6. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1993. 230- 235. Print.
Excerpt One [of Two] “I think, said Simmias, that Cebes is satisfied although he is the most incredulous of mortals, yet I believe that he is sufficiently convinced of the soul before birth. But that