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His Life, Works, and Everything in Between

There are many known Greek authors in the world of literature. Each of them has left their legacies by imparting valuable knowledge of the past through their works and writing styles. Some entertained the people through their comedies; while others insulted them with their satires. There are also those who appealed to the audience’s hearts and struck them with tragedies. Euripides is one of the greatest Greek tragedians seen throughout history. He was born in 480 B. C. , on the very day that the battle of Salamis began.

At a very young age, he already showed interest in the fields of Philosophy and Poetry. He started writing his own tragedies at the age of 18, composing up to 90 plays. Some of these are satiric dramas while others are tragedies. Despite this number of entries in literary contests, only five of his plays won an award. Four was given when he was still alive, and one was awarded to him upon his death (Bellinger 45-46). As he aged, Euripides became disfavored by his fellow citizens and soon he was forced to retire in Macedon where the king, Archelaus treated him well.

When he died, the Athenians requested for his remains to be taken back to Greece but King Archelaus refused. At the king’s decree, Euripides was buried in a tomb at the confluence of two streams near Arethusa and Macedonia (Bellinger 45-46). Of the more than 90 plays that he wrote, only 18 have been preserved. This included the great play “Medea”, which was considered by some critics as a great masterpiece comparable to that of Sophocles’ “Oedipus”. Medea is a marvelous tragedy of a woman who killed her children. One of his extant satire plays is the “Cyclops”, which he wrote during 408 B.

C. It was a story of the daring meet of Odysseus with the Cyclops Polyphemus during his voyage towards Ithaca, his home (Bellinger 45-46). The works of Euripides was found to be the first one to use romantic love in tragedies, which influenced some of the plays written after his time (Bellinger 45-46). His plays were also found to be political in nature. This was evident in the “Suppliant Women” and the “Children of Heracles”. Although these plays are considered to be badly written, these two have greatly contributed to the studies of Athenian politics during Euripides’ time.

It showed the civic self-identity of the Athenians and it has dealt with the Athenian assistance to the Peloponnesians. Moreover, Euripides’ play represented women being helpless in the beginning but later empowered. Unlike Sophocles, he had a different view of women and he loved them (Mendelsohn 224). Other than the political and feministic influences in Euripides’ plays, they were considered as literary canons due to their deviation from the classical form that Sophocles’ set. Euripides’ style was rooted on the paradoxical and the ironic.

His works may be considered as the antithesis of Sophocles’ works and yet this is why they belonged to the list of literary canons. They were irregular dramatic forms whose variation obscured the commonality in classical plays resulting to a division of classes or genres, from romances, melodramas, and true tragedies (Michellini Preface). However, due also to his deviant nature and that of his works, some critics, especially those with Sophoclean influence, find his works as unacceptable as they pose as adversary to social and literary norms.

Due to their critical approach to tradition, they are found as neither likeable nor lovable. On the other hand, there are also critics who praised him for this style as they find it only constructive and therefore appropriate to criticize the norms (Michellini Preface). As such, it may be said that the Euripidean tragedies have two facets due to its deviance from the classical norms.

One is that it may never be interesting in the eyes of classical critics and those who strongly support adherence to tradition; and second is that it is very much revered for it opens up pathways to new discoveries and improvement.Yet whatever the facet is looked at, Euripidean tragedies are undeniably literary canons that are treasured in this field.

Works Cited Bellinger, Martha Fletcher. A Short History of the Drama. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1927. Mendelsohn, Daniel Adam. Gender and the City in Euripides’ Political Plays. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2002. Michellini, Anne Norris. Euripides and the Tragic Tradition. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.

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