Electra and Other Plays: Euripides

Overview


Euripides, wrote Aristotle, ‘is the most intensely tragic of all the poets’. In his questioning attitude to traditional pieties, disconcerting shifts of sympathy, disturbingly eloquent evil characters and acute insight into destructive passion, he is also the most strikingly modern of ancient authors.

Written in the period from 426 to 415 BC, during the fierce struggle for supremacy between Athens and Sparta, these five plays are haunted by the horrors of war – and its ...

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Overview


Euripides, wrote Aristotle, ‘is the most intensely tragic of all the poets’. In his questioning attitude to traditional pieties, disconcerting shifts of sympathy, disturbingly eloquent evil characters and acute insight into destructive passion, he is also the most strikingly modern of ancient authors.

Written in the period from 426 to 415 BC, during the fierce struggle for supremacy between Athens and Sparta, these five plays are haunted by the horrors of war – and its particular impact on women. Only the Suppliants, with its extended debate on democracy and monarchy, can be seen as a patriotic piece. The Trojan Women is perhaps the greatest of all anti-war dramas; Andromache shows the ferocious clash between the wife and concubine of Achilles’ son Neoptolemos; while Hecabe reveals how hatred can drive a victim to an appalling act of cruelty. Electra develops (and parodies) Aeschylus’ treatment of the same story, in which the heroine and her brother Orestes commit matricide to avenge their father Agamemnon. As always, Euripides presents the heroic figures of mythology as recognizable, often very fallible, human beings. Some of his greatest achievements appear in this volume.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140446685
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 629,405
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 7.82 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Euripides, the youngest of the three great Athenian playwrights, was born around 485 BC of a family of good standing. He first competed in the dramatic festivals in 455 BC, coming only third; his record of success in the tragic competitions is lower than that of either Aeschylus or Sophocles. There is a tradition that he was unpopular, even a recluse; we are told that he composed poetry in a cave by the sea, near Salamis. What is clear from contemporary evidence, however, is that audiences were fascinated by his innovative and often disturbing dramas. His work was controversial already in his lifetime, and he himself was regarded as a ‘clever’ poet, associated with philosophers and other intellectuals. Towards the end of his life he went to live at the court of Archelaus, king of Macedon. It was during his time there that he wrote what many consider his greates work, the Bacchae. When news of his death reached Athens in early 406 BC, Sophocles appeared publicly in mourning for him. Euripides is thought to have written about ninety-two plays, of which seventeen tragedies and one satyr-play known to be his survive; the other play which is attributed to him, the Rhesus, may in fact be by a later hand.

John Davie is head of classics at St. Paul's School in London.

Richard Rutherford is tutor in Greek and Latin literature at Christ Church, Oxford.

Richard Rutherford is tutor in Greek and Latin literature at Christ Church, Oxford.

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Table of Contents


Electra and Other Plays General Introduction
Note on the Text
Chronological Table
Translator's Note

Preface to Andromache
Andromache

Preface to Hecabe
Hecabe

Preface to Suppliant Women
Suppliant Women

Preface to Electra
Electra

Preface to Trojan Women
Trojan Women

Notes
Bibliography
Glossary of Mythological and Geographical Names

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