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Literally works are classified into different categories called genres in accordance to the attributes and content. Homer’s Iliad belongs to the genre of epic while Euripides Hippolytus belongs to the genre of tragedy. An epic is a long poem which tells a story that involves gods, heroes and heroic abuse. The epic is loosely organized and not every episode is absolutely important to the main story and digressions are common. The occurrences narrated in epic are drawn from myth rather than made-up by the poet and are typically a great significance as in the case of Homers Iliad.

The Iliad relates an important occasion centering the greatest hero of the Greeks in Trojan War. The epic poet occasionally draws attention to him but mostly tends to present his narrative impersonally (Ziegfeld, 1989). A tragedy is a literary work or a drama in which the main character suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a result of tragic flow, inability to cope with unfavorable conditions, or moral weaknesses. Tragedy refers to a tragic dram in which a central character called a tragedy protagonist or hero suffers a misfortune which is not accidental.

Tragedy stresses the susceptibility of human beings whose suffering is brought on by people and divine actions. This genre is not totally pessimistic in its outlook. Although many tragedies end in despair for the characters some attains satisfactory solution of the tragic situation. Actors to perform in the theatres were hired and assigned to the tragedy poets probably by lot. Women were not allowed to take part in dramatic production, make actors had to play female roles.

The actors used masks which prevented the audience form identifying males and female actors in the play (Ziegfeld, 1989). Tragedy was a public genre from its earliest days in Athens, therefore it was supposed to be presented before the audience in a theatre. Epic was also a public genre. Epic continued to be recited at festivals like the panthmnaia but gradually and slowly became a private genre. That was read from a manuscript at ones leisure. This also happened to tragedy. In the 4th Century it became possible to experience the effect of tragedy without public performance i.

e. through private reading. Reading became the primary means of access to ancient tragedy and epic except for occasional modern productions. The private reading of tragedy deprives us of the visual and aural effects which were essential element of this genre. Homer’s depiction of the gods in the Iliad is more the result of his inventive creation than a literal representation of the gods of actual ancient Greek. He is more concerned with making the gods suit the needs of the poem than stimulating religions piety in his audience.

The gods in the Iliad acted like a foil for humanity by accenting the troubles and agony experienced by men. These gods sometimes were characterized by comedy in order to emphasize human troubles by contest. In the Euripides Hippolytus the gods had the same characteristics as humans one of which is jealously. There were different gods and Aphrodite seemed to be jealous of Artemis and Hippolytus worshiped Artemis. The relationship between mankind and the gods seems to be give and take relationship. The Greeks believed in prayers and sacrifices so that their gods would help them out.

Hippolytis worshipped Artemis but sometimes they were no way obligated to help out the humans. Artemis did not protect Hippolytus from being killed and Aphrodite punished Hippolytus (Ziegfeld, 1989). Some of the main themes that are similar in the two genres are:- revenge, tale of women in motivating and shaping the future, persistence pays and glory and honor are everything. The Greeks seeks revenge against the Trojans when they took away a king’s wife Apollo and Chryses seek revenge because Agamemnon had defied them. In the Euripides Hyppolytus.

Hyppolytus worshiped Artemis as greatest of all gods and tends to shy away from Aphrodite. Aphrodite decides to revenge against Hyppolytus. The Greeks fight a foreign war, lost many men and refused to leave the battle field. After all they achieved victory-persistent pays (Ziegfeld, 1989). Women played a great role in the literary genres. There were more women than men in the Euripides Hyppolutus and they had great roles. Although women were not allowed to take part in dramatic production men used masks and the audience could not identify the person playing the role.

In the Iliad’s Helen is the immediate cause of the Trojan War and there were goddess playing part in the play. The structure of tragedy, is characteristic where scenes of dialogs alternate with choral songs, most strategies start with an opening scene of expository dialog and monologue called prologue. The author of a tragedy had to perform additional acts of training the actors and a chorus compared to an epic which freely said in any tone and any person reading it on manuscript.

Composing the songs and music for the various actors and chorus was not easy. Also reading tragedies like epics on manuscript make the reader miss the following elements are additional aids to interpretation the script of the play: scenery, actor’s gestures, inflection of actors and postures costumes, and masks, singing, dancing sounds of the original language and various poetic rhythms (Ziegfeld, 1989).


Ziegfeld, R. (1989). New Literary History. New York: McMillan Publishers.

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