Tragic Temporalities in Euripides’ Trojan Women


This paper explores the articulation and representation of time in Euripides’ Trojan Women, which is of the essence for our appreciation of various aspects of the play, including its position in the trilogy, its dramaticaction as it develops under the pressure of time, its characters and their atti­tude to temporality, and its reflection of the ephemerality of live theatre. Tem­porality in Trojan Women develops a theme apparently present in, and evencentral to, the previous plays of the trilogy: both Alexander and Palamedes seem to foreground historical time as an agent of development and revelation (of human character, of social conventions, or of cultural achievements, amongother things). In Trojan Women itself, dramatic time coincides with real per­formance time but is complicated by the presence of several ‘ticking clocks’, i.e., important events which are represented as imminent (e.g., the departureof the Greek fleet, or the funeral rites for the murdered Astyanax) and create a sense of accelerating velocity. Further, mythic time, including the early history of humankind, is contradistinguished from human temporality as variously ex­perienced by individual characters in what amounts to a visceral phenomeno­logy of temporality, with the exception of Hecuba whose vision of temporality extends beyond the personal. Finally, the paper makes a case for Trojan Wo­men being a study on the ephemeral but memorable temporality of live theatre.