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Euripides (yo͝orĭpˈĭdēz), 480 or 485–406 B.C., Greek tragic dramatist, ranking with Aeschylus and Sophocles. Born in Attica, he lived in Athens most of his life, though he spent much time on Salamis. He died in Macedon, at the court of King Archelaus. He wrote perhaps 92 plays (the first produced in 455); during his lifetime he won only four first prizes (the first in 441) at the competition held at the annual spring festival of Dionysus in Athens. There are 19 of his plays extant (including one that is doubtful): Cyclops (date unknown), the only complete extant Greek satyr play; Alcestis (438); the Heraclidae (c.430?), a patriotic play inspired by the Peloponnesian War; Medea (431); Hippolytus (428); Andromache (426?); Hecuba (425?); the Suppliants and Hercules Furens (both c.420); Electra (417?); the Trojan Women (415), an indictment of war; Helena (412); Ion (c.412); Iphigenia in Tauris (date uncertain); the Phoenician Women (c.409), on the story of the Seven against Thebes; Orestes (408); Iphigenia in Aulis and the Bacchae, on the Pentheus story, both posthumously produced (405); and Rhesus, doubtfully attributed to Euripides. Provocative, concerned with problems and conflicts sometimes disturbing to his audiences, Euripides displays a rationalistic and iconoclastic attitude toward the gods and an interest in less heroic, even homely, characters. He brings the mythical stories down to the immediate contemporary and human level. His sense of dramatic situation and plot construction go beyond Aeschylus and Sophocles, and what his plays may lack in grandeur they make up in penetration. His choral passages (interludes in, rather than parts of, the action) have remarkable lyric power. Euripides uses the prologue to get into the situation as rapidly as possible, sacrificing a proper exposition of previous action, and he uses the deus ex machina [god from a machine] to cut through and resolve the play's problem. His popularity increased after his death, and his plays were revived more than those of Aeschylus or Sophocles. Among the many translations of Euripides is The Complete Greek Tragedies, ed. by Richmond Lattimore and David Grene (1956–59).


See studies by G. Murray (1918, 2d ed. repr. 1965), T. B. L. Webster (1967), and A. P. Burnett (1972).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



Born circa 480 B.C., in Athens; died 406 B.C., in Macedonia. Classical Greek dramatist.

Euripides wrote 92 tragedies, of which 17 have survived, along with one satyr play (Cyclops). He wrote during a period of crisis for the Athenian city-state, years that saw the decay of traditional ethical standards. In Heraclidae he extols Athens for protecting the progeny of Heracles, and in the tragedy Iphigenia in Aulis the heroine is to die for the sake of a Greek victory; however, in The Trojan Women he protests the Athenian policy of conquest; he is disturbed in The Suppliants by the social stratification of democratic Athens, and in Orestes, by the vigorous activity of the demagogues. The disintegration of city-state ties spawned in Euripides an interest in man’s inner world, and he portrayed people “as they really are” (in the words of Sophocles) rather than in standardized, exalted form. Medea’s emotional state is occasioned by the struggle between her hatred for Jason, who has forsaken her, and her maternal feelings (Medea). In the character of Phaedra, Euripides elaborated the psychology of a woman’s love for the first time in Greek tragedy (Hippolytus). His mastery in conveying suffering justified calling him, even in antiquity, “the most tragic of the poets.” Religious doubts, too, emerge in Euripides, as seen in the critical remarks about the gods by characters in Electra, Ion, and other tragedies. Occasionally he voices thoughts on the injustice of slavery and the trammeled status of woman in the family. Elements of everyday life invade his dramas, represented not only by servants, wet nurses, and tutors, but by mythological protagonists as well. The role of the chorus is curtailed in Euripides’ works; not infrequently, he dissociates the choral parts from the matter of the play. In his last plays, Euripides is prone to employ the device of deus ex machina.


Texte établi et trad, par L. Méridier, L. Parmentier et H. Grégoire, vols. 1–6. Paris, 1942–59.
In Russian translation:
Tragedii, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1969.


Beliaev, D. F. K voprosu o mirovozzrenii Evripida. Kazan, 1878.
Istoriia grecheskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946. Chapter 24.
Tronskii, I. M. Istoriia antichnoi literatury, 3rd ed. Leningrad, 1957, Chapter 2, § 5.
Murray, G. Euripides and His Age, 2nd ed. London, 1947.
Euripides: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N. J. [1968]. (Bibliography, pp. 175–77.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


?480--406 bc, Greek tragic dramatist. His plays, 18 of which are extant, include Alcestis, Medea, Hippolytus, Hecuba, Trojan Women, Electra, Iphigeneia in Tauris, Iphigeneia in Aulis, and Bacchae
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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