The first playwright of democracy, Euripides wrote with enduring insight and biting satire about social and political problems of Athenian life. In contrast to his contemporaries, he brought an exciting--and, to the Greeks, a stunning--realism to the "pure and noble form" of tragedy. For the first time in history, heroes and heroines on the stage were not idealized: as Sophocles himself said, Euripides shows people not as they ought to be, but as they actually are.
About the Author
Euripides, the youngest of the three great Athenian playwrights, is thought to have written about ninety-two plays, of which seventeen tragedies and one satyr-play have survived.
AESCHYLUS: A complete fifth-century Athenian, he was the creator of her proudest artistic achievement, tragedy. By using more than one actor he changed the form of plays from recited poetry to true dramatic dialogue, thereby making possible the sweeping grandeur of his great trilogy, THE ORESTEIA.<br><br>SOPHOCLES: The most popular tragedian of the Golden Age, he expanded the scope of classic drama by his technical innovations and lyric intensity, leaving the world such masterpieces as ANTIGONE and OEDIPUS THE KING, the play Aristotle called the perfect model of Greek tragedy.<br><br>EURIPIDES: A prolific author, Euripides wrote some one hundred plays. In contrast to his contemporaries, he brought an exciting-and, to the Greeks, a stunning-realism to the "pure and noble" form of tragedy. His influence altered drama forever, and he is regarded today as the originator of modern dramatic sensibility.<br><br>ARISTOPHANES: The most famous comic playwright of ancient Greece, he wrote what are now the only extant representative of Greek Old Comedy. His three outstanding characteristics-gross obscenity, exquisite lyricism, and a serious concern for decency and morality-may seem a strange combination to the modern reader. Aristophanes is still regarded by modern audiences as a master of risqué wit and brilliant comic invention.
John McLean is a doctoral student in the Department of Political Studies at Queen's University.