About the Author: Who is Euripides? Born c. 484 BCE, Athens [Greece], Died 406 BCE, Macedonia
Like many great classical writers of his time little is known about Euripides beyond his body of work. We do know that he was born in Athens and he died in the Kingdom of Macedonia. He was born into a well-off family in the politically centralized city of Athens. Euripides lived during the infamous Peloponnesian War that plagued the Peninsula from north to south. He was elected to participate in the dramatic festival City Dionysia in 455 BCE. He did not win the coveted first victory until 441 BCE. He elected to leave his native Athens in 408 BCE at the request of Archelaus, king of Macedonia where he would pass away two years later.
On the whole Euripides was not as successful as his contemporaries Sophocles and Aeschylus. Compared to both of his peers he actually sat quite low on the totem pole, only winning four victories at the dramatic festival. His fourth win was awarded posthumously.
Euripides was a part of what is now deemed the humanist movement. He looked to the will of man as greater than that of the gods. He was intrigued with the idea that humans were capable of creating their own fate. At the time his style of writing was not received as well as that of Aeschylus or Sophocles.
In his style of tragedy the Gods did not play as intricate a role in the lives of the mortals as they might in say Aeschylus’ drama. The mortals were left to their own devices and often it was their actions and own free will that ensured their eventual demise. Euripides was unique in his frequent use of prologue and deus ex machina. He would bring gods and goddesses in at the end of his drama, but they did not serve any purpose beyond tying up loose ends. Even his manner of dialogue differed from the other playwrights of his day, often classified as chatter or in Greek lalia.
He portrayed men and women as commonplace, down to earth, and flawed. They were expressive of their feelings, doubts, and problems, often allowing the audience to see inside their minds.
The way Euripides approached drama and mythology was quite novel. It was this humanist approach that made his body of work some of the most relatable Classical Greek drama to date. His work was not fuddled with the world of the Gods; it looked to human reason and morals to analyze his characters’ actions.
"tragedy." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia
Britannica, 2010. Web. 26 July 2010