The Extant Rhesus and Its Two Supplementary Prologues: A Question of Affinity
In this paper I will discuss the two supplementary iambic prologues to the pseudo-Euripidean Rhesus, both preserved in the so-called second Hypothesis or hypothesis (b) to the drama – our only source concerning the authenticity question tied to this play in antiquity. The extant remnants of these prologues are a single line allegedly derived from the writings of the fourth century BCE scholar Dicaearchus of Messana, and eleven verses from an opening soliloquy by Hera, addressed to Athena. This prologue, engaging Zeus’ wife and daughter, was considered in antiquity to be interpolated by actors. My main focus in this study will be on the various ways in which these sources can be associated with the extant drama. As far as the first prologue is concerned, I will attempt to show in some detail that its specific content does not necessarily constitute evidence for the existence of a genuine Euripidean Rhesus, as has been suggested. On the other hand, I will tentatively argue that its emergence in ancient scholarship can plausibly be linked to the origin of the authenticity issue. As regards the second iambic prologue to the disputed play, I will discuss its form and content, its Iliadic and extra-Iliadic framework, in an attempt to demonstrate, as thoroughly as possible, how dramatically suitable it can be for the extant composition.
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