Herakles (Euripides)

Herakles (Euripides)

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Herakles (Euripides)

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Herakles (, also known as Hercules Furens, Hēraklēs Mainomenos) is an Athenian tragedy by Euripides that was first performed c. 416 BCE. While Herakles is in the underworld obtaining Cerberus for one of his labours, his father Amphitryon, wife Megara, and children are sentenced to death in Thebes by Lycus. Herakles arrives in time to save them, though the goddesses Iris and Madness (personified) cause him to kill his wife and children in a frenzy. It is the second of two surviving tragedies by Euripides where the family of Herakles are suppliants (the first being Herakles' Children). It was first performed at the City Dionysia festival.

Plot synopsis

In a prologue filled with genealogical detail, Amphitryon outlines the ancestral history of Herakles' and Lycus' families. Lycus is ruling Thebes unlawfully and is about to kill Amphitryon, and—because Megara is the daughter of the lawful king Creon—Herakles' wife Megara and their children. Herakles cannot help his family, for he is in Hades engaged in the last of his twelve labours: bringing back the monster Cerberus who guards the gates there. The family has taken refuge at the altar of Zeus; they are forbidden to enter their palace and are watched too closely to escape.

The Chorus sympathize with them and encourage them, but, being old men, are unable to help. Lycus comes to ask how long they are going to try to prolong their lives by clinging to the altar. He claims that Herakles has been killed in Hades and will...
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