In the dialogue of Euripides, again, we have the same rhetorical mannerism, reminding us too much of the forensic and political oratory then dominant at Athens. Instances are seen in the formal controversies which are debated between Peleus and Menelaus in the Andromache, between Helen and Hecuba in the Troades, between Agamemnon and Menelaus in the Iphigenia in Aulis. For this reason Quintilian advised young orators to read Euripides, seeing that his language was very like the oratorical style and for attack and rejoinder he might be matched with any of those who had distinguished themselves as public speakers, on which ground, indeed, he had been blamed by those who preferred, for sublimity, the grave and truly tragic tone of Sophocles. Even in its external form the dialogue of Euripides reflects the character of his age. His language is an exact reproduction of the style of conversation used by the Athenians of the time, with all its merits and defects, its polished sparkle and transparent lucidity, its easy, gossiping diffuseness, its tinge of ironical raillery. His lyrics, again, are faithfully modeled on the favorite dithyrambs of the period. The want of true emotion is hidden by a showy and wordy expression of feelings, which is seen particularly in the long laments of his much suffering heroes.
Euripides seems never to have realized that real suffering may be dumb, and that silence has often a greater effect on the audience than endless woe and wailing. He is not therefore misrepresented, when, in the Frogs of Aristophanes, he calls Aeschylus a cheat for letting his Achilles or Niobe sit in silence, without uttering a sound, and thereby cozening his audience, who wait in vain for Niobe to open her lips. His scenes and monodies are often a string of short sentences. He sometimes seeks, even at the expense of good taste, to surprise his audience by novelty or strangeness in musical composition. Thus, in the Orestes, he introduces a Phrygian eunuch, who sings a peculiar song to a Phrygian melody, with an accompaniment of barbarous cries. His choral odes, as a rule, are only connected with the action of the play, in that they take some point in its development as the occasion to launch forth into unnecessary narratives and descriptions, or to interpolate moral platitudes which are calculated rather to distract the attention of the audience than to assist their comprehension of the plot. In the choruses of Euripides the profundity of thought which we find in Aeschylus and the penetration of feeling which characterizes Sophocles, are replaced by an easy flow of words and an abundance of graceful imagery. Euripides was less correct than his predecessors in his metrical and musical composition, and he is even careless in the versification of his dialogue.
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