Please sign in to post.

Happy 2,500th Birthday to Euripides!

Greece traditionally calls 23 Sept 480 BCE the birthday of the playwright Euripides, which makes today his 2500th anniversary.

Here's how the Writer's Almanac sums it up:

"Today is the day Greece celebrates the birthday of the Athenian tragic poet, Euripides, best known for his plays Medea, The Bacchae, and Iphigenia at Aulis. The story goes that he was born on the same day as the battle of Salamis in 480 BC, but this detail was probably invented after his death to align him with the Athenian identity. Along with Aeschylus and Sophocles, Euripides is one of the few Greek playwrights who had a lot of his work survive through the ages.

He paid special attention to the downtrodden in society, particularly women and slaves, at a time when other playwrights focused on more powerful, triumphant characters. Euripides was one of the first writers to portray mythical heroes like regular people; even when they were arguing with gods, their struggles were human struggles and they had the same emotional conflicts as everyone else. His dialogue was less structured and closer to regular speech. This decision to make dialogue less like poetry was the first in a long line of innovations that made theater more realistic.

His work can be hard to pin down, and critics make a lot of contradicting claims about him. The literary critic Bernard Knox wrote: “He has been described as ‘the poet of the Greek enlightenment’ and also as ‘Euripides the irrationalist.’ He has been seen as a profound explorer of human psychology and also a rhetorical poet who subordinated consistency of character to verbal effect; as a misogynist and a feminist; as a realist who brought tragic action down to the level of everyday life, and as a romantic poet who chose unusual myths and exotic settings. He has been recognized as the precursor of New Comedy and also what Aristotle called him: ‘the most tragic of poets.’ […] And not one of these descriptions is entirely false.”

Euripides was exiled from Greece toward the end of his life because of his association with Socrates, who was executed for refusing to recognize the Greek gods. He defined his art form this way: “Tragedy isn’t getting something or failing to get it, it’s losing something you already have.” "

Brittannica has a short article on him here:
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Euripides

Have you visited key spots in Athens or nearby where his plays were performed, or key settings? What were your favorites?

Posted by
1571 posts

Ali, you are truly a Renaissance man, and an extremely interesting one to boot. You definately make me think a lot deeper then i am used to. I didn’t get too far reading The Divine Comedy but i feel ok knowing i tried. Now i am going to do a little research in Euripides. I bet you would be fun to travel with!

Posted by
10330 posts

I remember the statue/sculpture of Euripides in the Louvre.

Posted by
890 posts

A Greek walks into his tailor with a couple of torn togas.

The tailor asks, "Euripides?"

The customer says, "Yes, Eumenides?"

Posted by
1300 posts

Barbara, see if you can find the recent stage production of Medea with Diana Rigg in the lead role online - that will be an enjoyable intro this playwright.