Thoughts Shot Forth in Vain (Eur. Hecuba 599–602)
In this piece, attention is once again drawn to the locus classicusof Euripidean sententious outbursts, lines 599–602 put in the mouth of Hecuba mourning her daughter Polyxena. Suggested for bracketing by W. M. Sakorraphos in 1893 and athetised by J. Diggle (1984) and D. Kovacs (1995) in their respective editions (although not in the editions of J. Gregory (1999) and K. Matthiessen (2010), the lines (and the whole passage 592–602) have also shouldered a weight of Euripidean Weltanschauungdoctrines built on their slender frame. A brief overview of scholarly judgement, often overexacting, prompts one to occupy the middling ground allowing both for the possibility of the genuine character of the lines 599–602 and their relevance in context (and not only expressing the ideas current in Euripides’ times) with both birth and upbringing contributing to virtuous character. The metaphor in line 603 should not be considered a brave mannerism, or a marginal remark of some critic, but a marker of a change of topic, its archery imagery well on the side of trite.