The Surviving Tragedies of Euripides

"The Cyclops" and "Medea" Are Among His Famous Works


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Euripides (c. 484-407/406) was an ancient writer of Greek tragedy in Athens and a part of the third of the famous trio with Sophocles and Aeschylus. As a Greek tragic dramatist, he wrote about women and mythological themes as well as both together, such as Medea and Helen of Troy. Euripides was born in Attica and lived in Athens most of his life despite spending most of his time in Salamis. He enhanced the importance of intrigue in tragedy and passed away in Macedonia at the court of King Archelaus. Discover the innovation of Euripides, his background and review the list of tragedies and their dates.

Innovations, Comedy, and Tragedy

As an innovator, some aspects of Euripides' tragedy seem more at home in comedy than in tragedy. During his lifetime, Euripides' innovations were often met with hostility, especially in the way his traditional legends portrayed the moral standards of the gods. Virtuous men appeared as more moral than the gods.

Although Euripides portrayed women sensitively, he nonetheless had a reputation as a woman-hater; His characters range from victim to empowered through stories of revenge, retaliation, and even murder. Five of the more popular tragedies he wrote includes Medea, The Bacchae, Hippolytus, Alcestis, and The Trojan Women. These texts explore Greek mythology and look into the dark side of humanity, such as stories including suffering and revenge.

List of Tragedies

Over 90 plays were written by Euripides, but unfortunately only 19 have survived. Here is a list of the tragedies of Euripides (ca. 485-406 B.C.) with approximate dates: 

  • The Cyclops (438 B.C.) An ancient Greek satyr play and the fourth part of Euripides tetralogy.
  • Alcestis (438 B.C.) His oldest surviving work about the devoted wife of Admetus, Alcestis, who sacrificed her life and replaced his in order to bring her husband back from the dead.
  • Medea (431 B.C.) This story is based on the myth of Jason and Medea first created in 431 BC. Opening in conflict, Medea is an enchantress who becomes abandoned by her husband Jason as he leaves her for someone else for political gain. To take revenge, she kills the children they had together.
  • The Heracleidae (ca. 428 B.C.) Meaning "Children of Heracles", this tragedy based in Athens follows Heracles' children. Eurystheus seeks to kill the children to keep them from performing revenge on him and they try to stay protected.
  • Hippolytus (428 B.C.) This Greek play is a tragedy based on the son of Theseus, Hippolytus, and can be interpreted to be about vengeance, love, jealousy, death and more.
  • Andromache (ca. 427 B.C.) This tragedy out of Athens shows the life of Andromache as an enslaved woman after the Trojan War. The drama focuses on the conflict between Andromache and Hermione, her enslaver's new wife.

Additional Tragedies:

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Gill, N.S. "The Surviving Tragedies of Euripides." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Gill, N.S. (2020, August 28). The Surviving Tragedies of Euripides. Retrieved from Gill, N.S. "The Surviving Tragedies of Euripides." ThoughtCo. (accessed April 1, 2023).