44 pages 1 hour read

Ed. John C. Gilbert, Euripides


Fiction | Play | Adult | BCE

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Lines 1-236Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Lines 1-192 Summary: “Prologue”

The messenger god Hermes clarifies the circumstances at the outset of the plot. Specifically, Hermes explains that he is the son of Maia and Zeus, and that he is the messenger god. He claims that he is at the mountainous region of Delphi, where Apollo prophecies through the famous Delphic Oracle. Hermes next tells how Apollo raped Creusa, daughter of the Athenian king, in a cave. Unmarried, Creusa kept her pregnancy hidden, preferring to deliver her son in secret. After giving birth, Creusa brought her child back to the cave where Apollo forced himself on her, and she reluctantly abandoned the child, leaving him to an almost certain death. In her despair, she left two golden snakes to guard his cradle. Upon witnessing the child’s exposure from on high, Phoebus Apollo instructed Hermes to retrieve the infant and leave him at the entrance to Apollo’s temple at Delphi.

Considerable time has passed, and the child has grown to near adulthood. He now lives an honorable life as caretaker of the sanctuary at Delphi where he was left. Creusa has since married to Xuthus (a non-Athenian) as a prize for his victory in a war fought between the Athenians and the Euboeans.