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Euripides and the Gods$
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Mary Lefkowitz

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199752058

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199752058.001.0001

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Gods behind the Scenes

Gods behind the Scenes

(p.160) 6 Gods behind the Scenes
Euripides and the Gods

Mary Lefkowitz

Oxford University Press

Gods are always involved in the action of dramas, even though the mortal characters in the drama may be unaware of them. In the Hecuba, Heraclidae, Iphigenia at Aulis, and Phoenissae, they allow innocent children to be murdered and demand child sacrifice in war. But even though Euripides makes sure that his audiences will have no doubts about what it means to die on behalf of an army or a city, it does not follow that he believes or wants his audiences to suppose that the gods do not exist or that ritual perpetuates an illusion. If anything, the outcomes of the dramas would suggest that the theology of the traditional religion of Athens provides an accurate account of a world dominated by powers with which human beings have few effective means of communicating and over which they have little or no influence or control.

Keywords:   Hecuba, Heraclidae, Iphigenia at Aulis, Phoenissae, human sacrifice, Greek gods, Polyxena, Iphigenia, Menoeceus

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