Vol 7 (2017)

«Ti contentavi solo della forma». (Euripide, Elena 1368)

Anna Beltrametti
Università di Pavia
Published February 15, 2019


This paper evaluates some motifs in the second stasimon of Euripides’ Helen – in particular, the reference to the form (μορφή) in the final antistrophe – as key points to interpret this tragedy, including its prologue. The important references to the Great Mountain Mother, Demeter and Dionysus, the exposure of private and illicit rites, the criticism for the inappropriate attention to the form are issues that cannot be explained by a literal reading of the text. A deepened analysis of themes and words suggests to read in Helen a consistent, tragic allegory. The recent defeat of the Athenians in Sicily and the negotiations for the return of Alcibiades to Athens probably evoked the memory of the thorniest and most obscure events preceding the expedition, from the mocking enactment of the Mysteries to Teucer’s denounciation, both fatal for the most beautiful man of the late V century.