We stand at the same point of pain.

These lines, spoken in Euripides’ The Trojan Women at the fall of Troy, appear in Part Four, Chapter II. True to the sophistication of the Greek playwrights, Euripides does not, in his consideration of the Trojan War, rest with a simple glorification of the Greek military victory. Rather, he depicts the useless devastation and catastrophe that war brings alongside its glory. We feel the sorrow of the innocent—a sorrow infinitely multiplied when we recall that the only cause of the war is a spat over the lovely Helen.

Although Homer’s Iliad does not address the sophisticated aftermath of the Trojan War in the way that The Trojan Women does, the Iliad does portray the conflict as more than just a simple struggle between good and evil. We see heroism, strength of character, wisdom, and honor on both the Greek and Trojan sides. The Iliad ends with the death of Hector, the brave Trojan, portraying his loss as a great tragedy equal to the tragic death of the Greek Achilles. Both Euripides’ play and Homer’s epic depict humans caught in a web of circumstances beyond their control, facing their difficult situations and making the only ethical decisions possible, even when the clear consequence is death. The quotation, then, captures this moral complexity of war with an insightful snapshot of the human condition beyond the glory and spoils of a proud battle.