Perlego Book of the Month: The Women of Troy

It has now been a month since the start of the fall semester at the University of New York in Prague. As most of our students have been using Perlego to acquire textbooks for their classes, many have forgotten that you can also use the website to find a book to read for pleasure, sit with a cup of tea, and enjoy the journey. Of course, all of us – UNYP students, professors, and everyone else – are extremely busy right now, but even if you are not studying literature, you can still enjoy the diverse range of literature available on Perlego. There are over 900 topics available to choose from, with 37,000 available books in the literature section alone. One book that caught our attention this month is The Women of Troy which is based on a Greek play by Euripides about the Peloponnesian War, and especially the siege on the island of Melos. The alliance in Athens established a siege around the island because it refused to join them, and after the surrender, the Athenian troops ransacked the city, murdering all men and boys over the age of fifteen, and enslaving all of the women.

UNYP’s partnership with the Perlego online library nurtures our students’ love of reading

This book and play are a critique of the war and the Athenian expeditions, by presenting the perspective of the enslaved women, the war generals, and the gods, and what they have lost to senseless and inexplicable violence. It presents an extremely gruesome understanding of war and its human consequences, from separation and death to slavery and torture. The book does not give any praise to war, or glorify it in any way, notwithstanding the established male view of war at the time. 

The Women of Troy is written in the form of a melancholic poem discussing atrocities and representing the truth and reality of war in the world that Euripides made, inspired by the horrible actions of his fellow Athenians. The poem itself takes the form of dialogues and monologues spoken by the characters to themselves (the audience) or each other. The style of writing shifts from Shakespearean literature to casual dialect. We believe that this is a translation convention, and it makes the poem a little difficult to follow, but this is a small criticism that does not detract from the great story which is being told. Moreover, The Women of Troy mostly incorporates an almost feminist approach and view of war which was very unusual in that era.

Without introducing too many spoilers, there are several major moments in The Women of Troy that helped us gravitate towards this story. One of the first moments that captured our interest was the lust of the Greek war general Agamemnon for a holy virgin named Cassandra, whose virginity was even preserved by the god Apollo. Agamemnon’s audacious act in desecrating such a woman, among other atrocities committed by the Greeks, would cause the gods to unleash their wrath. Another part could almost foreshadow the Nuremberg trials, where a soldier named Talthybius drags Cassandra to Agamemnon while shaking his head the entire way, and when he snatches the child Polyxena and murders her while tears well up in his eyes. We see here a perfect example of the infamous plea ‘I was only obeying orders,’ and as history repeats itself, war remains a ruthless thief of lives. Euripides concludes the book by explaining that no cause for starting a war can be worth all the lives that will be taken, in a fantastic speech…but we will leave you to discover that for yourself!

 

The link to the book: https://ereader.perlego.com/1/book/395615/30

 

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