Places Discussed


*Troy. Ancient city on the coast of Asia Minor that according to tradition was destroyed by the Greeks. In Euripides’ play, the city’s breached walls—which were originally built by Poseidon—symbolize the city’s fate, and also serve as the backdrop throughout the play. Encamped before the walls, the captured Trojan women mourn their dead. From these walls they depart for slavery in Greece. Andromache’s son, Astyanax, is hurled to his death from the walls, and his grandmother, Queen Hecuba, buries him here before she herself departs in slavery. The collapse of the walls themselves in a conflagration caused by the Greeks symbolizes, at the end of the play, the final end of Troy itself.

Achilles’ tomb

Achilles’ tomb. Located on the plain outside Troy, the burial place of the Greek hero Achilles lies offstage in this play. Although the Greeks’ greatest warrior is dead, he requires his share of Trojan plunder. During the play Hecuba learns that the Greeks have sacrificed her daughter, Polyxena, as a gift to the dead Achilles.


*Greece. Homeland of Troy’s hated conquerers and the destination of all the surviving women of Troy, including Hecuba, Andromache, and Cassandra. The crimes of the Greeks in this play, especially the murder of Astyanax, distort the natural tendency of Euripides’ Greek audience to identify with their homeland and encourage them to sympathize instead with the conquered Trojans.


(Great Characters in Literature)

Conacher, D. J. Euripidean Drama: Myth, Theme, and Structure. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967. Under “War and Its Aftermath,” Conacher describes the plot in The Trojan Women as “a succession of unrelieved and ever deepening woe” which provides an alternating rhythm of hope and desolation. An introduction to the myth behind the play is given.

Croally, N. T. Euripidean Polemic: “The Trojan Women” and the Function of Tragedy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Building on Karl Marx and Michel Foucault, Croally examines the connection between the pleasure of viewing tragedy and the teaching that it conveys, specifically resulting in the questioning of received wisdom.

Euripides. The Trojan Women. Translated by Edith Hamilton. New York: Bantam Books, 1971. Hamilton presents the play as the greatest piece of antiwar literature ever written and explores its lack of effect on Athenians’ opinions of war. The screenplay included in this volume, written by Michael Cacoyannis, provides insights into the translation of a play into film.

Gregory, Justina. Euripides and the Instruction of the Athenians. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991. Gregory examines connections between words and deeds of Andromache, Cassandra, Hecuba, and Helen, underscoring that the women had no ability to inspire action; she focuses on tragedy’s political contributions in classical Athens and political elements in Euripides’ works.

Scodel, Ruth. The Trojan Trilogy of Euripides. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhjoeck and Ruprecht, 1980. Scodel claims that the dry, analytic rhetoric of The Trojan Women balances the emotional pathos. She examines relationships between Alexandros, Palamedes, The Trojan Women, and the satyr play Sisyphus.