Discuss the life and works of Euripedes

Essay by k6y87 April 2004

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There is a lot of gossip surrounding the life and career of Euripedes. Actually that's maybe not too surprising considering he was born around 485BC somewhere in Athens.

Euripides had a love of truth so he made many of his characters confront personal issues, not just questions of state. In Hippolytus and The Bacchae he explores the thoughts of men attempting to deny their true selves such as sexuality or expressing their emotions.

Of the three great tragic poets of Greece, Euripides was by far the most modern. He brought realism in clothes, conversation and character to the Greek stage.

Some say that Euripides finest contribution to world drama was the introduction of the common man to the stage. He never pictured a saviour of mankind, who was better than everyone else. His characters were always everyday people with everyday faults like being greedy, vulgar, ambitious and ignorant.

Euripides was the first to introduce women on the stage, not as heroines but as they are in actual life.

But he was usually far from complimentary to them, probably the result of his two unhappy marriages that both ended in divorce. For instance in Hippolytus, the nurse approaches him about love on behalf of Phaedra and Hippolytus expresses his opinion of womenkind, "O Zeus, why has thou brought into the world To plague us such a tricksy thing as woman?"

Although many of Euripides plays dealt with personal issues, he did not shy away from the social issues of his time. The play Trojan Women was written in response to an Athenian expedition in 416BC which destroyed the city of Melos and slaughtered its men. As they play begins, Troy has fallen, its men have been murdered, its shrines desecrated, and its women bound and enslaved.

Euripides was gradually destroying...