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About Euripides


Euripides, (ca. 480 BC–406 BC) was the last of the three great tragedians of classical Athens (the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles). It is believed that Euripides wrote close over 90 plays, only eighteen of which have survived in their complete from.

Euripides presented his first set of tragedies at the Great Dionysia in 455 B.C., but did not win his first victory until 441. In fact, he won only five awards, as compared with 13 for Aeschylus and 18 for Sophocles, with whom Euripides was compared even during his lifetime--and the fifth of these was not awarded until after his death.  Euripides' work was largely ignored by the judges of the Greek festivals in part he did not cater to the the populist desires of the Athenian crowd. Disapproving of their superstitions and belief in the acceptance of horrific deeds by gods and heroes, he refused to pander to any moral hypocrisy. He was a pacifist, a free thinker, and a humanitarian in an age when such qualities were increasingly overshadowed by mindless compliance, intolerance and violence. According to Aristotle, Sophocles said that he portrayed men as they ought to be, and Euripides portrayed them as they were.

Euripides wrote a number of plays and won first prize in the competition for tragedy five times. The majority of these works have not survived. It is clear from comments in other works (especially in the plays of Aristophanes) that Euripides was a controversial figure in Athens. In 408 he moved from Athens to Macdonia and died the following year, allegedly torn apart by a pack of hunting dogs. The Bacchae, one of his last plays, was not performed during his lifetime.

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