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About the book
  • Published: 5 July 2004
  • ISBN: 9780140449297
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $14.99

Medea And Other Plays




Previously published as Alcestis and Other Plays, the Penguin Classics edition of Euripides' Medea and Other Plays is translated by John Davie with introductions and notes by Richard Rutherford.
Medea, in which a spurned woman takes revenge upon her lover by killing her children, is one of the most shocking of all the Greek tragedies. Medea is a towering figure who demonstrates Euripides' unusual willingness to give voice to a woman's case. Alcestis is based on a magical myth in which Death is overcome, and the Children of Heracles examines conflict between might and right, while Hippolytus deals with self-destructive integrity. These plays show Euripides transforming awesome figures of Greek myths into recognisable, fallible human beings.
John Davie's accessible prose translation is accompanied by a general introduction and individual prefaces to each play.
Euripides (c.485-07 BC) was an Athenian born into a family of considerable rank. Disdaining the public duties expected of him, Euripides spent a life of quiet introspection, spending much of his life in a cave on Salamis. Late in life he voluntarily exiled himself to the court of Archelaus, King of Macedon, where he wrote The Bacchae, regarded by many as his greatest work. Euripides is thought to have written 92 plays, only 18 of which survive.
If you enjoyed Medea and Other Plays, you might like Aeschylus' The Oresteia, also available in Penguin Classics.
'One of the best prose translations of Euripides I have seen'
Robert Fagles
'John Davie's translations are outstanding. The tone throughout is refreshingly modern yet dignified'
William Allan, Classical Review

  • Pub date: 5 July 2004
  • ISBN: 9780140449297
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $14.99

About the Authors

Euripides Euripides

Euripides is thought to have lived between 485 and 406 BC. He is considered to be one of the three great dramatists of Ancient Greece, alongside Aeschylus and Sophocles. He is particularly admired by modern audiences and readers for his characterization and astute and balanced depiction of human behaviour. Medea is his most famous work.

Date: 2013-08-06
Euripides is thought to have lived between 485 and 406 BC. He is considered to be one of the three great dramatists of Ancient Greece, alongside Aeschylus and Sophocles. He is particularly admired by modern audiences and readers for his characterization and astute and balanced depiction of human behaviour. Medea is his most famous work.

Robin Robertson is from the north-east coast of Scotland. He is the author of three collections of poetry: A Painted Field (1997), winner of the 1997 Forward Poetry Prize (Best First Collection), the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Prize and the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award; Slow Air (2002); and Swithering (2006). He is also the editor of Mortification: Writers' Stories of their Public Shame (2003). In 2004, he was named by the Poetry Book Society as one of the 'Next Generation' poets, and received the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Robin Robertson's third poetry collection, Swithering (2006), was shortlisted for the 2005 T. S. Eliot Prize and won the 2006 Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year). In 2013 Robin Robertson was awarded the Petrarca-Preis. He lives and works in London.

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.


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