Helen (Play)

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Definition

Helen is a Greek tragedy by Euripides (c. 484-407 BCE). It is usually thought to have first been performed at the Great Dionysia of 412 BCE and was part of the trilogy that included Euripides' lost Andromeda. Helen recounts an unusual version of the myth of Helen of Troy in which a phantom decoy, an eidolon, replaces Helen in Troy while the real Helen awaits the end of the Trojan War in Egypt. Ever since its first performance, Euripides' Helen has puzzled and fascinated: in his Thesmophoriazusae, performed the year after Euripides' Helen, Greek comedy playwright Aristophanes would parody the “new Helen” (line 850). To this day, scholars continue to debate many aspects of Euripides' Helen, including its jarring juxtaposition of the comic and the devastating, its contemporary relevance, and its message about the nature of truth and reality.

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