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an analysis of the play by Euripides

The following essay on Hecuba was originally published in The Tragic Drama of the Greeks. A.E. Haigh. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1896. pp. 297-8.

The Andromache, we are told, was not exhibited at Athens; but whether it appeared elsewhere, or was never produced upon the stage, is uncertain. The reference to the recent alliance with Argos points to the year 419 [B.C.] as the most probable date of composition. The ordinary legend reappears in its main features, with the exception that the death of Neoptolemus is ascribed, not to a chance quarrel with the Delphians, but to the instigation of Orestes, in order to bring it into closer relationship with the plot. In point of structure the Andromache is open to the same criticism as the Hecuba, and suffers from the looseness of the connection between the earlier and the later portions. In the opening scenes deep sympathy is excited by the peril of Andromache and Molossus; but as soon as they are rescued, they disappear from the stage and are heard of no more. New interests are introduced, and the play concludes with the marriage of Orestes and the assassination of Neoptolemus. The general tone, too, is far from pleasing. Base and repulsive characters are introduced with unusual frequency; and the constant exhibition of spite, jealousy, and callous brutality produces a depressing effect upon the mind, which is scarcely mitigated by certain redeeming features, such as the chivalry of Peleus, the maternal affection of Andromache, and the fidelity of the Trojan slave. Throughout the play the picture of human nature seems to have been distorted by the influence of national hatred against Sparta.

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