The Misfortune of Artemis


D. Kovacs, Euripides II: Children of Heracles, Hippolytus, Andromache, Hecuba, Loeb Classical Library 484, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA and London 1995.


Charalambides uses as a motto three lines from Euripides’ Hippolytus (1395-96), where Artemis tells Hippolytus, who confesses his misfortune and devastation to her, that it is not decorous for the gods to shed tears.

The poem revolves around this thematic axis, even though Charalambides dexterously transfers this misfortune to Artemis herself; the goddess suffers because she is not allowed to show compassion and empathise with her beloved devotee.




ΙΠΠΟΛΥΤΟΣ: Δέσποινα, βλέπεις τὴ δυστυχία μου;

ΑΡΤΕΜΙΣ: Τὴ βλέπω, ἀλλὰ στὰ θεϊκά μου μάτια / τὸ δάκρυ ἀπαγορεύεται.

A quotation from Euripides Hippolytus 1395-96:


IΠΠΟΛΥΤΟΣ: ὁρᾷς με, δέσποιν’, ὡς ἔχω, τὸν ἄθλιον;

ΑΡΤΕΜΙΣ: ὁρῶ∙ κατ’ ὄσσων δ’ οὐ θέμις βαλεῖν δάκρυ.


Lines 8-11

She was aware, and knew this from memory,

that no darkness (σκότος) is born

without a groan, not even a single feeling

of this world, was unknown to her.

These lines seem to serve as an answer to Hippolytus’ veiled criticism of Artemis at the end of the play, when the goddess abandons him just before his death (1437-44):

ARTEMIS: Farewell: it is not lawful for me to look upon the dead or to defile my sight with the last breath of the dying. And I see that you are already near that misfortune.

HIPPOLYTUS: And farewell to you in your going, blessed maiden! Yet, how easily you leave your long friendship! Still, at your bidding I end my quarrel with my father. For in times past too I obeyed your words.

Oh, oh! Darkness (σκότος) is coming down upon my eyes!





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