Week 18

We have more surviving plays from the hand of Euripedes than that of Sophocles and they are from a later date. And therefore Euripedes gives us an insight into what was happening in Golden Age Greece in the later years of the 5th century BC. He shows us the religious doubt, the civic questioning, the moral confusion. His theatrical genius completes the picture of 5th century Greece that begins the century with the challenge of the Persians, confronts and defeats the Persians, rebuilds the society in a burst of enthusiasm, and then falls into decay in the last decades.

(Wikipedia) Euripides (486-406 BC) 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. This new approach led him to pioneer developments that later writers adapted to comedy, some of which are characteristic of romance. Yet he also became "the most tragic of poets," focusing on the inner lives and motives of his characters in a way previously unknown. He was "the creator of...that cage which is the theatre of Shakespeare's Othello, Racine's Ph├Ędre, of Ibsen and Strindberg," in which "...imprisoned men and women destroy each other by the intensity of their loves and hates," and yet he was also the literary ancestor of comic dramatists as diverse as Menander and George Bernard Shaw.




The Bacchae and Other Plays,

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140447261