Euripides is identified with theatrical innovations that have profoundly influenced drama down to modern times, especially in the representation of traditional, mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
35 Facts About Euripides
Euripides became "the most tragic of poets", focusing on the inner lives and motives of his characters in a way previously unknown.
Euripides's contemporaries associated him with Socrates as a leader of a decadent intellectualism.
Ancient biographies hold that Euripides chose a voluntary exile in old age, dying in Macedonia, but recent scholarship casts doubt on these sources.
Euripides served for a short time as both dancer and torch-bearer at the rites of Apollo Zosterius.
Euripides's education was not confined to athletics, studying painting and philosophy under the masters Prodicus and Anaxagoras.
Euripides became a recluse, making a home for himself in a cave on Salamis.
Euripides was the youngest in a group of three great tragedians, who were almost contemporaries: his first play was staged thirteen years after Sophocles' debut, and three years after Aeschylus's Oresteia.
Tragic poets were often mocked by comic poets during the dramatic festivals Dionysia and Lenaia, and Euripides was travestied more than most.
Euripides is presented as such in The Acharnians, where Aristophanes shows him to be living morosely in a precarious house, surrounded by the tattered costumes of his disreputable characters.
Euripides' mother was a humble vendor of vegetables, according to the comic tradition, yet his plays indicate that he had a liberal education and hence a privileged background.
Euripides first competed in the City Dionysia, the famous Athenian dramatic festival, in 455 BC, one year after the death of Aeschylus; and did not win first prize until 441 BC.
When Euripides' plays are sequenced in time, they reveal that his outlook might have changed, providing a "spiritual biography", along these lines:.
Athenian tragedy in performance during Euripides' lifetime was a public contest between playwrights.
Speakers in the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles sometimes distinguish between slaves who are servile by nature and those servile by circumstance, but Euripides' speakers go further, positing an individual's mental, rather than social or physical, state as a true indication of worth.
Euripides' characters resembled contemporary Athenians rather than heroic figures of myth.
The dialogue often contrasts so strongly with the mythical and heroic setting that it can seem like Euripides aimed at parody.
Athenian citizens were familiar with rhetoric in the assembly and law courts, and some scholars believe that Euripides was more interested in his characters as speakers with cases to argue than as characters with lifelike personalities.
Unlike Sophocles, who established the setting and background of his plays in the introductory dialogue, Euripides used a monologue in which a divinity or human character simply tells the audience all it needs to know to understand what follows.
Aeschylus and Sophocles were innovative, but Euripides had arrived at a position in the "ever-changing genre" where he could easily move between tragic, comic, romantic, and political effects.
Euripides's genre-bending inventiveness is shown above all in Alcestis, a blend of tragic and satyric elements.
Many Greek tragedians make use of dramatic irony to bring out the emotion and realism of their characters or plays, but Euripides uses irony to foreshadow events and occasionally amuse his audience.
Euripides has aroused, and continues to arouse, strong opinions for and against his work:.
Euripides was a problem to his contemporaries and he is one still; over the course of centuries since his plays were first produced he has been hailed or indicted under a bewildering variety of labels.
Euripides has been described as 'the poet of the Greek enlightenment' and as 'Euripides the irrationalist'; as a religious sceptic if not an atheist, but on the other hand, as a believer in divine providence and the ultimate justice of divine dispensation.
Euripides has been seen as a profound explorer of human psychology and a rhetorical poet who subordinated consistency of character to verbal effect; as a misogynist and a feminist; as a realist who brought tragic action down to the level of everyday life and as a romantic poet who chose unusual myths and exotic settings.
Euripides wrote plays which have been widely understood as patriotic pieces supporting Athens' war against Sparta and others which many have taken as the work of the anti-war dramatist par excellence, even as attacks on Athenian imperialism.
Euripides has been recognized as the precursor of New Comedy and what Aristotle called him: 'the most tragic of poets'.
Unique among writers of ancient Athens, Euripides demonstrated sympathy towards the underrepresented members of society.
Much of Euripides' work was lost and corrupted; but the period included triumphs by scholars and copyists, thanks to whom much was recovered and preserved.
Around 200 AD, ten of the plays of Euripides began to be circulated in a select edition, possibly for use in schools, with some commentaries or scholia recorded in the margins.
Euripides was more fortunate than the other tragedians, with a second edition of his work surviving, compiled in alphabetical order as if from a set of his collect works; but without scholia attached.
Original production dates for some of Euripides' plays are known from ancient records, such as lists of prize-winners at the Dionysia; and approximations are obtained for the remainder by various means.
Euripides sometimes 'resolved' the two syllables of the iamb into three syllables, and this tendency increased so steadily over time that the number of resolved feet in a play can indicate an approximate date of composition.
Webster's older The Tragedies of Euripides, based on what were then believed to be the most likely reconstructions of the plays.