The plays of Euripides

20th October 2016

News, Student news, Alumni news

Thirteen years since its original publication, an updated second edition of Emeritus Fellow James Morwood’s The Plays of Euripides is published this month.

  • Euripides

The book consists of essays on the eighteen surviving plays of Euripides as well as on Rhesus, which is thought unlikely to be by him.

Between general introduction and final summary, James Morwood's chapters identify the themes that underlie the plays and concentrate, above all, on demonstrating the extraordinary diversity of this great dramatist who was constantly reinventing himself. New to this edition, which is updated throughout, are further details on the individual plays and extra suggestions for background reading.

In his introduction to the book, James writes: “I very much hope that the word ‘Euripidean’ is used only once in the entire book – here in this sentence. It seems to me reductive of any major playwright’s reach and range to treat him as if he constantly swims in the same waters. In my view the only important thing that all of Euripides’ plays have in common is that each and every one of them is a masterpiece.”

Commenting on the book, Stephen Anderson, Rodewald Lector in Classical Languages at New College said: “Ever since its first appearance in 2002 Morwood's little book - readable, instructive and cram-packed with sound scholarship and interesting aperçus - has been just about the best available introduction to Euripidean drama for sixth-former, undergraduate and general reader alike. This second edition both brings the earlier volume up to date and adds important new material, ensuring the book's continuing success for many years to come.”
James Morwood became an Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College, after seventeen years as Head of Classics at Harrow School. He is the author of 17 books, including The Plays of Euripides, Writing Latin, Key to Advanced Latin, Advanced Latin, and Hadrian.

Euripides (c. 480 – c. 406 BC) was a tragedian of classical Athens. He is one of the few whose plays have survived. Ancient scholars attributed more than 90 plays to him. Euripides is identified with theatrical innovations that have profoundly influenced drama down to modern times, especially in the representation of traditional, mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. He was also unique among the writers of ancient Athens for the sympathy he demonstrated towards all victims of society, including women.