Eurípides biography
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Eurípides biography

Euripides (September 23, 480 – 406 b.C.), poet and dramatist. He was born on the island of Salamis, just as the famous battle of Salamis began. His father, Mesarco was an Athenian landowner, and his mother Clito a woman belonging to the nobility. His father decided to direct him to gymnastics, fully convinced by an oracle that Euripides would achieve great triumphs. But this did not work, the little one was finally more inclined by poetry, music, and painting. In his youth, he received a fertile education being a disciple of Anaxagoras de Clazómene, Protagoras, Archelaus, Pródico and Diógenes de Apolonia. In 466 b. C. had to serve two years of military service. He was a lover of painting, of reading, at the end of his life he held the largest library in Greece, and he hated politics.

At the time, great talents flourished, which greatly influenced his literary and philosophical works. Therefore, he took key parts of the sophists and the tradition of the pre-Socratics as Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Empedocles, and Democritus. On the other hand, the literary heritage of Homer, Pindar, Solon, Theognis, Hesiod. This made his works varied and dealt with broad themes. In that sense, he was one of the most progressive figures of the so-called Athenian Enlightenment.

Despite his estrangement from public policy, because he preferred to live apart in his Salamina farm. He was concerned, then, to introduce new conceptions in the tragedy, giving prominence and dignity never seen before to the slaves in their theatrical roles. He also focused on showing the most absurd, stupid and cruel aspect of the war in works such as the Troyanas. His fame earned him thousands of followers, as well as some friends. So, he formalized a small circle of enlightened friends who constantly met to talk based on one of his hundreds of books. Of them, he was the most critical of laws and politics.

Euripides began to write and present his works in the dramatic festivals of Attica during the year 454 b.C. It was in the year 442 b.C. who managed to get the first prize. A Distinction that he won three more times. As we mentioned earlier, his works expressed the clear influence of sophists and philosophers such as Protagoras, Anaxagoras, and Socrates. As a result, it was strongly attacked by Athenian comedy writers, such as Aristophanes. At that time, the Athenian society was divided into those who supported the stability of conservative values, represented by Aeschylus and Aristophanes, and those who followed the rationalist revisionism, by Euripides, Socrates, and the Sophists.

Hence Aristophanes’ attack on Euripides, expressed in his comedy The Frogs, Thesmophoria, and The Assemblymen, in which he expressed ridicule and malevolent allusions of himself and his mother, who described her as a woman of low social extraction, cataloging her as a fishwife. Although this really was not like that. Anyway, the sophist approach was finally imposed with The Peloponnesian War contributed, to verify that the beliefs of yesteryear would not be useful for the future.

His works were criticized given their unconventional character, in them, the heroes and princes spoke a daily language, in a few words, were placed at the same level of humans. The pretty spooky situation for the time. In addition, he expressed total disregard for moral and religious values. Euripides was the greatest exponent of the new moral, social and political movements of Athens. He was responsible for giving a new step to the tragedy. Focused on the thinking and experiences of the ordinary human being, rather than the legendary figures, his characters were treated in a natural way. In short, he separated the chorus from the action, a situation that generated negative criticism. In addition, he was criticized for including an explanatory prologue. Another of its resources was the unexpected introduction of a god to facilitate the outcome of the work.

His treatment was innovative: he altered and mixed the myths among themselves to reinterpret them, starting from the conception of man as a measure of all things. The mortal characters manifest feelings such as doubt and fear, allowing themselves to be dragged by their passions, with frequently fatal consequences. In the secondary characters, there were many profiles present in the works: the heartless stepmother, the orphaned children, the decrepit and ridiculous elders, the heroine, the weak husband. The erotic passion and all the taboos related to it occupied a very important place in the Euripides tragedy.

If we analyze your works, carefully respect the chronological sequence; The story is preceded by a prologue in which what was happening in Athens is transferred to a mythical action. This method was questioned because, it was claimed that, although it was intended to Entering the spectator by anticipating events, sometimes had the opposite effect, causing confusion regarding the outcome. Despite this, Euripides continued to do so. This controversial dramatist gave a total turn to the function of the choir: the representation of the moral judgment of the spectators.

Now, the dramatic force of the choir was diverted towards the actors, who begin to sing duets and sung monodies, expressing overwhelming feelings: hatred, madness, despair or passion. The tragedy of Euripides has a faithful relationship with music, praise rhythms are used to relax the dramatic action alternating with other rhythms that enhance the emotional. The extensive discourses of the protagonists were a reflection of the influence of sophistry. The intervention of each speaker had the same number of verses as the other, a faithful copy of the rhetorical tournaments. His most important works were: Alcestis, Medea, Heráclides, Hipólito, Andrómana, Hécuba, The Supplicants, Electra, Troyanas and Heracles.

His works that today are admired and respected; at the time they were quite questioned by the public. As a consequence, at the end of his years, old and tired, he moved to Macedonia, where he received the protection of King Archelaus. At the time, he retired from court and the next two years he died in Pela in the year 406 b.C.

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