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About the book
  • Published: 18 December 2000
  • ISBN: 9780140441291
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $14.99

Medea And Other Plays




Four plays which exemplify his interest in flawed, characters who defy the expectations of Greek society, Euripides' Medea and Other Plays is translated with an introduction by Philip Vellacott in Penguin Classics.
The four tragedies collected in this volume all focus on a central character, once powerful, brought down by betrayal, jealousy, guilt and hatred. The first playwright to depict suffering without reference to the gods, Euripides made his characters speak in human terms and face the consequences of their actions. In Medea, a woman rejected by her lover takes hideous revenge by murdering the children they both love, and Hecabe depicts the former queen of Troy, driven mad by the prospect of her daughter's sacrifice to Achilles. Electra portrays a young woman planning to avenge the brutal death of her father at the hands of her mother, while in Heracles the hero seeks vengeance against the evil king who has caused bloodshed in his family.
Philip Vellacott's lucid translation is accompanied by an introduction, which discusses the literary background of Classical Athens and examines the distinction between instinctive and civilized behaviour.
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 Oresteian Trilogy, also available in Penguin Classics.

  • Pub date: 18 December 2000
  • ISBN: 9780140441291
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208
  • 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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