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Women Of Troy: The Cruelty Of Greek Warriors

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It has been common to describe the warriors as noble and loyal people who would consume their blood to protect their fatherland, although it sometimes contrasts with the reality. In The Women of Troy, Euripides depicts the slave women’s suffering after war caused by the Greeks. The playwright highlights the inhumanity of the victorious Greek warriors by particularly emphasizing their cruelty, while he has depicted some heroic and noble Trojan female characters contrary to the Greeks and the conversation between gods as a reflection of the extent of inhumanity of the Greek warriors.

The cruelty of the Greek warriors are emphasized by enlarging the scale of people suffering. The tragic future of the women is foreshadowed at the start of the play by the gods by portraying ‘the screams and moans of captured women’. The Trojan princess Polyxena is ‘murdered’ and Cassandra will become a concubine. The description of the murder of Polyxena, which are ‘brutally’ and ‘secretly’, are short but vivid. It may lead the audience to think the brutality might be the reason why the Greeks keep as a ‘diplomatic evasion’ to Hecuba because they do want to avoid critiques. This may be Euripides’ indication to his Hellenic audience who might participate the recent massacre in Melos, that even they tried, their inhumanity would finally unveiled and they will be criticized. The motive which driven Agamemnon, ‘the world famous leader’, to have Cassandra is the satisfaction of sullying a ‘consecrated virgin’ who gods decreed pure. Euripides uses his blasphemy to show his disrespect to gods as a contrast to the Greeks’ religious concepts which is to honour the gods, as another intimation of all the shameful desires achieved by Greeks in Melos, is a scathing critique of their inhumanity hidden behind their victories. For modern audience, as most of these values are gone in current society, they may be shocked, hence to discover how inhumane the Greeks warriors were and then to protest wars. The other moment is the death of Astyanax. Although he burdens the hope of the Trojan women of being ‘the saviour of Troy’, he is a vulnerable child without any power even to protect himself. Because of the Greeks’ ‘blind panic’ of his future, he is killed in a cruel way. The Hellenic audience might consider this as reasonable. But presenting it on the stage, Euripides highlights again the savagery of the victorious Greeks and also, questions their definition of war if it includes torturing and killing innocent people even after the war, therefore the description of the acts and motives of the Greek warriors show their inhumanity behind their glories.

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Comparing to victorious Greek warriors, some Trojan women are tend to be more heroic. Under Euripides depiction of women, Cassandra is a brave female who appears to be fearless and noble confronting the tragic fate. But still some emotions reveal from her monologue when she shouted that ‘wild animals will eat Apollo’s consecrated virgin’ and farewells to the ‘precious’ ‘feasting and celebrations’. Euripides present such contrary between her sadness and craziness while promising that she will ‘be more destructive’ and ‘destroy his [Agamemnon] whole family’ to underline her personality and feeling of both being a common woman and a prophetess before the audience’s eyes to encourage them to seek for the real reasons behind such contradict words and to make her persona more vivid as any person who would fear the horrors but keeps brave to face them. It appeals to the sympathy of the modern audience to Cassandra and thus they will discover more about the inhumanity of the Greek warriors. This is a reminder to the Hellenic audience of their savagery, and in another way, to show them what their acts actually mean in human terms. Cassandra, including other Trojan women such as Hecuba are described as noble heroes comparing to the Greeks, which highlights the inhumanity of victorious Greek warriors, while they prefer desires other than the nobility they should have.

The participation of gods to the war is a reflection of the inhumanity of victorious Greek warriors. Poseidon presents a measured sympathy to the Trojan women and to his failure in the gods’ game of gambling, which is a symbol of most of the gods to the world of mortals. Following this path, Athene should be happy as her ally Greece wins. But Athene is irritated by them dishonouring her temple and sullying her nun and decides to punish them. Gods are superior in status to mortals, which is implied in Agamemnon’s motive of taking a virgin who ‘even the god Apollo kept untouched’ as the symbol of his power, therefore, according to the Hellenic values, temples of gods should be respected. Euripides uses a simple sentence depicting the situation that Athene’s temple ‘desecrated’ when ‘Ajax dragged Cassandra’ to indicate the serious consequence it will bring. This concise description of a Greek warrior making a huge mistake, as a representation of all other ‘savagery’ and inhumane behaviours the Greeks have done in the war, is another critique to his Hellenic audience of their hypocrisy that although they consider themselves as decent people who respect gods, in wars they become animals of appetite who loses reason. For modern audience, particularly those who know about the Hellenic values of religions, they will discover more about the inhumanity of the victorious Greek warriors as they have thrown all their decency and dignity chasing their desires. Hence, the punishments of gods which is unusual is another reflection of the inhumanity of the victorious Greek warriors.

Victorious warriors who keep humiliating and torturing the losing people are undoubtedly shameful. In The Women of Troy, Euripides uses not only the nobility of the slave women to contrast the inhumanity of victorious Greek soldiers, but also his description of the cruelty of their behaviours and how these acts irritate gods. It is a scathing critique to his Hellenic audience of their recent massacre in Melos and a warning and persuasion for them not to continue such inhumanity, which is their planned Sicilian expedition, to shame their victory and their country. While it is also telling the modern audience what wars actually mean in human terms, which are cruel, brutal and inhumane to convey a message of anti-war.

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Women Of Troy: The Cruelty Of Greek Warriors. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 5, 2023, from
“Women Of Troy: The Cruelty Of Greek Warriors.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
Women Of Troy: The Cruelty Of Greek Warriors. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 5 Dec. 2023].
Women Of Troy: The Cruelty Of Greek Warriors [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2023 Dec 5]. Available from:
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