Euripides (480 BC – 406 BC) was the youngest of the three great Athenian tragedians whose work survives. From the voluminous number of tragedies these three playwrights produced, we have seven apiece by Aeschylus and Sophocles, and eighteen or nineteen by Euripides, who was called in antiquity the most tragic of the tragic poets, and of whom it was also said that he showed people not as they ought to be but as they are. Some of the ancient references to Euripides, while they can’t be substantiated, give a vivid sense of the nature and popularity of his art.
Rachel Hadas is Board of Governors Professor of English at the Newark campus of Rutgers University. The most recent of her many books of poems is The Golden Road (Northwestern University Press, 2012); a memoir, Strange Relation, was published by Paul Dry Books in 2011.