Biography of Eurípides (485-406 a.C.)

Greek dramatist, born in Salamina (city of the island of Cyprus, belonging then to Greece) towards the year 480 BC (according to the tradition, the same day that the famous battle of Salamis took place) and died in Pella (Macedonia) in 406 BC It is one of the great dramatists of all time, specialized in the genre I most liked to the Greek people: the tragedy. The great innovation of Euripides consisted of always preserving the great characters of tragedy, but giving them a profile (i.e. a way of thinking, feeling and acting) much more human.

Life

He was born in Salamis (city of the island of Cyprus, belonging then to Greece) towards the year 480 BC. According to tradition, he was born the same day in which took place the famous battle of Salamina, one of the most important of the medical war. That day was on September 23 of that year.

Scholars of his life and work are not in agreement on the social class to which his family belonged. According to some, his father was a wealthy landowner (i.e., owner of many lands) called Mnesarco or Mnesarquides, which belonged to a noble lineage.

According to others, his father was of more humble origin and his mother was a greengrocer called Clito. But this latest version of his family is due rather to the envy of actors and authors of comedies, which wanted to ridicule to Euripides when she was already famous.

The case is that he received a wonderful education, as his works show that he possessed extensive knowledge on philosophy, religion and literature. Its theatre is heavily influenced, what its content is concerned, the thought of the great sophistical philosophers Anaxagorasand Protagoras , as well as the ideas of Socrates.

Know that I was an austere man, and young had strong religious beliefs that led him to worship the God Apollo, although then it was becoming ever more skeptical.

Father of three sons (one of whom was also a playwright, but with much less success), Euripides became very famous in Athens, once I got beat in the theatrical competitions that there used to summon the great Sophocles, until then considered the best playwright of the century.

However, it took to succeed, because your way of writing Theatre presented many novelties that, initially, were not well received by the public, accustomed to other tastes.

To begin with, his characters were more authentic and natural that those who had hitherto Aeschylus and Sophocles. In addition, Euripides in his mature works reflected his doubts about the existence of the gods. And he was always as a man free and independent, able to think on their own, without blindly obey the moral standards of their fellow citizens.

Because of this so freeform behave, gradually is it was left alone, away from the citizens of this Athens who admired his works. Tradition says that it is isolated to write his works, away from any human being (apparently, it used to take refuge in a cave by the sea, and hoped inspiration contemplating the waves).

At the end of his life, tired of the religious beliefs and moral norms of the Athenians, he abandoned the big city where he had triumphed and went into exile in the region of Macedonia. But I especially hated politics of Athens, which had led the city to face in a cruel war with Sparta (the Peloponnesian War).

He died in the Macedonian city of Pella in the year 406 BC That same year Sophocles, who was already very old (died the following year), paid tribute to the figure and the work of Euripides in theatre festivals that are held in the spring ("Greek parties").

Work

Euripides is next to Aeschylus and Sophocles, one of the three great tragic (i.e. the tragedy growers) of Greek literature.

Aeschylus was the creator of the genre and Sophocles the brilliant author who gave it its shape and its ultimate importance. Euripides, which was somewhat younger than the latter, took advantage of his teachings and also ended up succeeding.

However, the success took to arrive, since it was a brave and original author who proposed reforms which, initially, were not well accepted by the public. Their main innovation was the presentation of a few heroes many more human than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles, closest to the way of being of the ordinary people.

It is believed that Euripides was the author of some 90 works. But only nineteen have survived to this day. It's eighteen tragedies and comedy.

Among the tragedies Medea (431), which tells the myth of this sorceress who killed their own children to avenge thus the murdered father, who had abandoned her for another woman; Hippolytus (428), Electra, Hecuba (420), a story of bloody revenge between characters who participated in the legendary Trojan war; Orestes, Iphigenia in Tauris, the Bacchae, where the slaughter and blindness are described with horror, at the same time that the vision of God and nature is full of charm; The Trojan women (415), Alceste (438) and Andromache.

The only comedy of Euripides which is preserved today is the Cyclops, a satirical piece based on an episode in the Odyssey, starring the hero of this work (Ulysses) and a giant of one eye (i.e., a Cyclops) named Polyphemus. Euripides plays the meeting and talks between these two characters, but in a humorous tone, parodying the classic myth narrated by Homer in the Odyssey.