The Trojan Women – Movie Review

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Synopsis and Review:

The eminent classicist Edith Hamilton provided the translation of the powerful Euripides play for this film from 1971, which stars Vanessa Redgrave as Andromache as well as Katharine Hepburn as Hecuba. The Trojan Women portrays the aftermath of the Trojan War, and the consequences of the Greek victory on the leading women of Troy.

Throughout the film as well as the play the mood is melancholy with moments of intense acrimony against Helen – played by Irene Papas. Although the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote his own more forceful version of The Trojan Women, this version – the original one by Euripides – has fewer of the graphic scenes Seneca depicts and relies more on the dramatic conditions these women find themselves in – i.e. a life of slavery awaiting them. Vanessa Redgrave is on another order of magnitude above the other performers in her portrayal of Andromache – the widow of Hector – and this is exquisitely revealed when Andromache learns that her young son is to be executed by being thrown off the walls of Troy.

For lovers of Classicism this film is a must watch, and for those that have not yet read the Seneca adaptation of the play it is absolutely recommended as well.

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On Friendship – Seneca

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Synopsis: 

In letter #3, Seneca discusses the merit and meaning of friendship. He drafts the framework by which a friendship ought to be commenced, perpetuated, or dissolved.

Excerpts:

“Deliberate upon all questions with your friend, but first deliberate about him. After friendship there must be full trust, but before it, discretion.

“Trusting everyone and trusting no one are both wrong, though I might say the one wrong is an excess of frankness and the other an excess of security.

“The two attitudes should temper one another: the easygoing man should act, the active man take it easy. Consult Nature: she will tell you that she created both day and night.

*All excerpts have been taken from The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters, W.W. Norton.

On the Subjects of Philosophy – Seneca

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Synopsis:

In letter #89, Seneca considers the state of philosophy present in the culture of his era. He chronicles the foundations of the idea of philosophy itself, as well as the pursuit of virtue.

Excerpts:

“The sage’s mind does indeed comprehend the whole mass, which it scans no less quickly than our vision surveys the sky; but we who must still penetrate the fog and whose vision is deficient even for nearby objects are not capable of comprehending the whole and find explanation of individual parts easier.

“Wisdom is the perfect good of the human mind; philosophy, love of wisdom, and progress towards it.

“The subject and the object of the act of seeking cannot be identical.

“Philosophy is the study of virtue, but virtue is its means, so that virtue cannot exist without study of itself nor the study without virtue itself.

“Study not to increase your knowledge but to improve it.

*All excerpts have been taken from The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters, W.W. Norton.