Euripides was a playwright of Ancient Greece
(5th century BC), one of three great tragedians whose works have survived to the present day (the earlier two are Aeschylus
). A whopping eighteen of his plays have survived complete (many via a remarkably-preserved 800-year-old copy of The Complete Works of Euripides — Volume 2: Eta-Kappa, although the Theta plays remain lost), along with fragments of many others. One of these, The Cyclops
, is a Satyr Play
His works are noted for having subtler and more realistic characterization than his predecessors, and for playing with the established tropes of Greek tragedy. On the other hand, Friedrich Nietzsche
condemns Euripides for being in thrall to Socrates
' philosophy, saying that Euripides "killed" tragedy by infusing it with reason and philosophical ideas.
Any discussion of Euripides has to make note of the fact that he had a Love It or Hate It
reputation during his day. Euripides was well aware of the constraints placed upon playwrights at the time, and many of his plays attempted to subvert at least one of the established theatrical conventions. Today, however, some scholars regard him as the best of the three surviving Greek playwrights and several regard him as the Shakespeare of Athens.
Extant works include:
- Cyclops - The only surviving Satyr Play.
- Iphigenia at Aulis
- Iphigenia among the Taurians - Euripides' Fix Fic because ancient fan boys hated what happened to the eponymous Iphigenia.
- Phoenician Women
- The Suppliants
- The Trojan Women
Works by Euripides with their own trope pages:
Other works by Euripides provide examples of:
- Author Tract: Iphigenia in Tauris, against Human Sacrifice.
- Bowdlerize: It is impossible to clean Cyclops up, for obvious reasons, but some translations phrase things so that it doesn't sound like the satyrs are talking about gang-raping Helen.
- Character Filibuster: An atheistic one survives from Sisyphus. It's the title character giving it...
- Deconstruction: The Trojan Women plays up the tragedies which befall the people of Troy after their city fell rather than focusing on the heroics of the main characters. And this isn't the only example—The Other Wiki has noted that Euripides's plays tended to use and adjust old myths and lore to explore the quandaries of contemporary Athenian culture. Which, of course, used those old myths' baseline forms to define and justify its culture.
- Deus ex Machina : Aristotle and Aristophanes chided him for making use of this obvious devices. Later generations of literary critics especially in the 20th Century, now regard Euripides' as a Stealth Parody or an Unbuilt Trope of a Gainax Ending, especially after the likes of Bertolt Brecht realized that these kinds of endings could be useful for Irony and pastische.
- Drives Like Crazy: PhaŽton is lost, but it's a given that this trope featured big time.
- Greek Chorus: Although Aristotle complained in Poetics that the choruses lost touch with the play.
- Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: In Ion, Apollo exploits it; Ion is in fact Creusa's son after Apollo raped her, but the oracle tells Creusa's husband that he is his son.
- Missing Episode: Ancient sources credit him with writing 95 plays. We've only got 19.
- Mood Whiplash: Heracles begins with the father, wife, and three sons of Heracles (a.k.a. Hercules) about to be executed by the tyrant, Lycus. At the last moment, Heracles returns and saves his family. Hooray! Then they go to make a sacrifice, only for Heracles to be driven mad and murder his wife and sons.
- In general this is the greatness of Euripides, his ability to mix tones from tragedy to comedy and satire which many critics realize was something that he, alone among ancient dramatists, would share with Shakespeare. Alcestis is another great example.
- Punch Clock Villain: Copreus in Heracleidae.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Trojan Women
- Satyr Play: His Cyclops is the only one surviving today.
- The New Rock & Roll: There was some kind of major musical change in Athens in the fifth century, and it's possible that Euripides, unlike most tragedians, made use of 'new music'. This is one of the things that earned him his Love It or Hate It reputation.
- Spared by the Adaptation: According to contemporary sources, Antigone and Haemon in the now-Missing Episode Antigone.
- Unfortunate Names: Copreus in Heracleidae. Imagine naming your kid "Shitman". Bit of a Freudian Excuse for his Punch Clock Villain status.
- Virgin Sacrifice
- War Is Hell: A common interpretation of Trojan Women is as a criticism of Athenian atrocities during the Pelopenesian War.
- Who's on First?: A Foregone Conclusion in Cyclops.
- Wicked Stepmother