Euripides tragedy plays, Bacchae




Euripides Plays

Euripides plays


Tragedy Plays

The great playwright Euripides was born into a dramatic setting. In 480 BC his pregnant mother and father were evacuated to the Greek island of Salamis when the Persians attacked Athens. So she gave birth to him on that island, on the same day as the decisive Greek naval victory just offshore. As soon as it was safe, his parents moved back to Athens where they raised their young prodigy. They even arranged for him to be taught by the noted philosopher Anaxagoras among others.

When Euripides was 25 year old he submitted his first play to the Dionysia competition held in 455 BC, but did not win the top prize until fourteen years later. He created a total of 92 plays during his long lifetime, finally passing away in 406 BC. Of those many plays, 19 have survived to the present day. They are:

  • Alcestis (438 BC)

  • Medea (431 BC)

  • The Children of Heracles (Heraclidae)

  • Hippolytus (428 BC)

  • Andromache

  • Hecuba

  • Suppliants

  • Ion

  • Electra

  • Mad Heracles (Heracles Mainomanos)

  • Trojan Women (415 BC)

  • Iphigenia in Tauris

  • Helen (412 BC)

  • Phoenician Women

  • Orestes (408 BC)

  • Bacchae (406 BC)

  • Iphigeneia at Aulis (406 BC)

  • Rhesus

  • Cyclops (a satyr play)

Opening scene in The Bacchae as directed in 2000 by Brad Mays

One of the hallmarks of Euripides' work was that he challenged the customs of his times by showing compassion for victims of society, including women. That choice did not make him popular among the predominantly male audiences of those days, so he won the Dionysia prize only four times.

This lack of appreciation caused Euripides to became somewhat reclusive in his older years. Yet that quality of compassion combined with an exploration of the inner lives and motivations of his characters eventually won a wide following for him. That in turn caused many more of his plays to be performed over the years and passed down to us than those of the other celebrated Greek playwrights

For additional reading:

Euripides - In Four Volumes  (his plays presented in Greek and in English, translated by Arthur S. Way)  London: William Heinemann, 1919.

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This page updated August 26, 2020.

Euripides Tragedy Plays, Bacchae

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