CliffsNotes on Euripides’ Electra and Medea

By Robert J. Milch | Go to book overview

EXTANT WORKS OF EURIPIDES

Alcestis— first produced at dramatic festival of 43 8 B.C., part of a tetralogy that was defeated by Sophocles and won second prize. The plot is based on a legend concerning the banishment of Apollo from Olympus to serve a mortal master, King Admetus, and the rescue of Admetus’ wife Alcestis from Death by Heracles after she undertakes to die in place of her husband.

Medea—first produced at dramatic festival of 431 B.C., part of a tetralogy that won third prize. Second prize was won by Sophocles, first prize was won by Euphorion, the son of Aeschylus. For details of plot see summary.

Heracleidae (The Children of Heracles)—date uncertain, possibly ca. 427 or 422 B.C. The plot is based on a legend that the mother and children of Heracles (Hercules) were given sanctuary at Athens after the hero’s death. The play seems partly motivated by propagandistic needs caused by the war between Athens and Sparta.

Hippolytus—first produced at dramatic festival of 428 B.C., part of a tetralogy that won first prize. This is one of Euripides’ most famous tragedies. It is based on the legend concerning the complex relationship between Hippolytus, the illegitimate son of King Theseus of Athens, and Phaedra, the wife of Theseus. This story has been the source of other well-known dramatic works, including the Phaedra of Seneca (Roman, first century A.D.) and Phedre by Racine (French, seventeeth century). A film version of the story in a modern setting was made in 1961.

Hecuba—date uncertain, probably ca. 425 B.C. This was one of Euripides’ most popular plays in antiquity. The plot is based on the story of Hecuba, the wife of King Priam, who becomes a prisoner of Agamemnon after Troy is destroyed and her family slain.

Andromache—date uncertain, but was probably written around the same time as Hecuba. This play was first produced outside Athens. It tells the story of Andromache, the widow of Hector, after the fall of Troy.

Hercules Furens (Mad Heracles, also known as Heracles)—date uncertain, probably ca. 420 B.C. The plot is based upon incidents in the legends about Heracles.

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CliffsNotes on Euripides’ Electra and Medea
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Contents 3
  • Introduction 5
  • Background of Greek Tragedy 6
  • Aristotle on Tragedy 12
  • Life of Euripides 16
  • Extant Works of Euripides 19
  • Summaries Andcommentaries 22
  • Notes on Main Characters 60
  • Suggested Reading 62
  • Examination Questions 63
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