Ancient Greece People


Euripides, Vatican Museum.
Euripides was born in 480 BC and died in 406 BC. Euripides was the youngest of the three principal fifth-century tragic poets. His work, which was quite popular in his own time, exerted great influence on Roman drama. In more recent times he has influenced English and German drama, and most conspicuously such French dramatists as Pierre Corneille and Jean-Baptiste Racine.

His plays began to be performed in the Attic drama festivals in 454 BC, but it was not until 442 BC that he won first prize. This distinction, despite his prolific talent, fell to him again only four times. Aside from his writings, his chief interests were philosophy and science.

Euripides represented the new moral, social, and political movements that were taking place in Athens towards the end of the 5th century BC. It was a period of enormous intellectual discovery, in which "wisdom" ranked as the highest earthly accomplishment. Anaxagoras had just proven that air was an element, and that the sun was not a divinity but matter. New truths were being established in all departments of knowledge, and Euripides, reacting to them, brought a new kind of consciousness to the writing of tragedy. His interest lay in the thought and experience of the ordinary individual rather than in the experiences of legendary figures of the heroic past.


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