chapter  5
7 Pages

The 'Hecuba'

We may first note the chieffeatures in the play for which we must try to account. There is the prologue spoken by Polydorus' Ghost, the obvious purpose of which is to hold together the two separate actions of the play;1 no hint here, as in the prologues to the Troades and Hippolytus, of what the underlying idea is. There follows an interesting inversion of an ancient practice when Hecuba is lyrical and the chorus acts as Messenger. They announce to her the impending sacrifice of Polyxena, and presently announce it to Polyxena hersel£ This occupies 150 verses of lyrical dialogue, and is a scene clearly designed for its misery-value, since in it action, characterization and 8ULVOta2 are reduced to a minimum.