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Euripides created his best-known plays during the height of the Peloponnesian Wars, and made his opposition to the war known by voluntarily leaving Athens. His plays include the following well-known classics:
- The Bacchae
- The Women of Troy
His attitude towards Athenian democracy is less than favorable. In The Women of Troy, for example, he shows great sympathy for the ancient enemy. His treatment of the characters is the exact opposite of Homer. Athena, who has helped the Greeks in their victory, now turns her back on the Greeks. The heroines of the story are "chattels of the Dorian State". In other words, the wars have reduced nobility to slavery.
Euripides and Medea
In Medea, we see the revenge of a woman scorned by a Greek hero in favor of politics. In The Bacchae, Pentheus, the symbol of the government, is torn to shreds by a frenzied mob. "Justice now be revealed! Now let your sword/Thrust-through and through-to sever the throat/Of the godless, lawless, shameless son of Echion". What this seems to be saying is that the frenzy of war that has gripped Athens is tearing democracy apart. Conditions in Athens so disgusted Euripides that he went into self-imposed exile.
Euripides' Central Themes
Euripides writes with several central themes that all center around the emotion of love, brought on by Aphrodite.There is the power of seduction of woman and man which gives way to the theme of sexual power versus chastity. The theme of unrequited love abounds throughout and is Aphrodite's play of power do undo Hippolytus. The final theme of pride, vanity, jealousy, and anger, is in essence, the workings of love turned evil, which becomes the story's final denouement.
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