Thursday, February 24, 2022


EURIPIDES (Greek, c. 480-406 BCE)

The third great tragedian of classical Athens, along with Aeschylus and Sophocles, wrote somewhere between 92 and 95 plays; we have 18 or 19 of them. There are also fragments of most of his other plays--we have more of the work of Euripides than of the other two put together, perhaps because his popularity eclipsed theirs in later days. He elevated the "common man" to the status of hero, as opposed to demigods or people of "great houses"--he put ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. He also revealed more of his characters' inner lives than had his predecessors.


  • Notable plays include:
    • Medea: A woman takes revenge on her faithless husband by killing her children by him.
    • Hippolytus: The lead character's sworn chastity offends Aphrodite, who manipulates his dad and step-mom to effect his death.
    • Electra: Orestes's sister helps him avenge the death of their father by killing his murderer--their mother.
    • The Trojan Women: The fates of the women of Troy after their city has been sacked and their husbands killed.
    • The Bacchae: The madness of the followers of Dionysus--whipped up by the god himself--leads to tragedy for a royal family.


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