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The Bacchae and Other Plays (Penguin Classics)by Euripides
Synopses & Reviews
Euripides (c. 484-406 BC) was the most controversial of the three great Greek tragedians and the most modern. His major themes - religious scepticism, the injustices suffered by women and the destructive folly of war - are issues still vitally important today. Ion, a play more concerned with character than ideas, deals with the problem of reconciling religious faith with the facts of human life. The Women of Troy poignantly reveals the horror of war, a theme also woven into the comedy Helen, in which Euripides good-humouredly parodies himself. The Bacchae, his last surviving tragedy and masterpiece, explores the psychology of mass violence. Above all, as these four plays demonstrate, Euripides sought to understand the nature of the human soul and human society. As Philip Vellacott states in his introduction, through reading these dramas we enter a world 'whose mysteries are infinite because they are the simple ones of common human experience'.
These four plays: "Ion", "The Women of Troy", "Helen" and "The Bacchae" demonstrate Euripides' aim to understand the nature of the human soul and human society.
Euripides (c.484-406 B.C.) was the most controversial of the three great Greek tragedians and the most modern. His major themes- religious scepticism, the injustices suffered by women and the destructive folly of war-are issues still vitally important today.
About the Author
Euripides, the youngest of the three great Athenian playwrights, was born around 485 BC of a family of good standing. He first competed in the dramatic festivals in 455 BC, coming only third; his record of success in the tragic competitions is lower than that of either Aeschylus or Sophocles. There is a tradition that he was unpopular, even a recluse; we are told that he composed poetry in a cave by the sea, near Salamis. What is clear from contemporary evidence, however, is that audiences were fascinated by his innovative and often disturbing dramas. His work was controversial already in his lifetime, and he himself was regarded as a ‘clever’ poet, associated with philosophers and other intellectuals. Towards the end of his life he went to live at the court of Archelaus, king of Macedon. It was during his time there that he wrote what many consider his greates work, the Bacchae. When news of his death reached Athens in early 406 BC, Sophocles appeared publicly in mourning for him. Euripides is thought to have written about ninety-two plays, of which seventeen tragedies and one satyr-play known to be his survive; the other play which is attributed to him, the Rhesus, may in fact be by a later hand.
Table of Contents
Ion.--The women of Troy.--Helen.--The Bacchae.
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