3 March 2017
Written more than 2500 years ago, Euripides’ tragedy Children of Heracles remains a topical and painfully true refugee story. Its main protagonists are (silent) children of heroic Heracles. Forced to flee from their home in Argos, accompanied by the elderly Iolaus and their grandmother Alcmene, they seek protection in Athens. When its ruler Demophon refuses to surrender the refugees, the ruler of Argos, Eurystheus – a relative of Heracles – declares war. A hostile army, an oracle’s decree to offer a maiden victim and a rising discontent of the Athenians put Demophon’s charitable gesture to a test. Will Athens manage to defend basic human rights?
Euripides (c. 485 – 406 BC), the author of Medea, Alcestis, Hippolytus, Phoenician Women and Bacchae, to name but a few, ranks as the most significant author of Attic tragedy . His Children of Heracles and The Suppliants (translated and published in 2016 in the series Dialogue with Antiquity by AMEU-ISH), established Athens as a carrier and supporter of basic civilizing values which democracy today should be based on too.