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Euripides. Antikensammlung, Berlin (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.Euripides
(Altes Museum, Berlin)
Euripides (485-406): Athenian poet, author of many tragedies, of which sixteen survive.

The last of Athens' great tragic poets is Euripides, who is rare among ancient authors because he apparently did not take part in public life. It may be true that he lived as a recluse.

His plays are more exuberant than those of Sophocles and Aeschylus; often, he has the heroes and heroines face difficult choices, which are finally solved by the sudden appearance of a god (deus ex machina). Medea is probably his most famous play, the Trojan Women can be interpreted as a protest against warfare, Heracles is a Camus-like play about heroism - the greatest act of bravery is accepting life with all its misery.

His other plays are

  • Alcestis
  • the Heraclids
  • Hippolytus,
  • Andromache,
  • Hecuba,
  • Suppliants,
  • Ion,
  • Electra,
  • Iphigenia in Tauris,
  • Iphigenia in Aulis,
  • Helen
  • Phoenician Women
  • and Orestes
The Rhesus was probably not written by Euripides. Substantial parts of the Phaethon were discovered in 2007.

At the end of his life, Euripides settled in Macedonia, where he wrote the Bacchae, a shockingly strange tragedy, which has been interpreted in many ways. His greatness was -in a remarkable way- recognized by the comic poet Aristophanes, who gives Euripides many appearances in his plays and often parodies scenes from his tragedies. 

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This brief article has been written to offer background information
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Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2005
Revision: 2 September 2008
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