This document was originally published in The Drama: Its History, Literature and Influence on Civilization, vol. 1. ed. Alfred Bates. London: Historical Publishing Company, 1906. pp. 185-186.

During the first ten years of his career Euripides found little recognition. Not that he allowed himself to be disturbed by this fact or by the biting sarcasm with which the comic poets, and Aristophanes especially, pursued him. Aristophanes had, as is proved by his famous criticism in the Frogs, a keen eye for the poet's faults; but the persistent way in which he emphasizes them, here and elsewhere, testifies rather to the growing reputation of the poet, and his steadily increasing influence over his contemporaries. After the death of Pericles the rising generation recognized him as the accredited exponent of their own ideas and one from whom they had much to learn; and thus, at last, he became the acknowledged favorite of the masses, in spite of all that might be said against him by the advocates of an older and better period in art and life. A certain aristocratic spirit, which breathes throughout Aeschylus and Sophocles, imposed on the masses and kept them at a respectful distance. Euripides, on the other hand, was a truly democratic poet, who came down to the people's level and spoke their thoughts in a manner they could understand. Thus Aristophanes makes him say of himself that he had taught men to chatter, "to use subtle rules and well-cut phrases, to reason, see and understand, to trim, to love and be cunning, to suspect and to contrive ... and all this while I introduce common things, familiar things of everyday, thus inviting criticism; for all men were judged and could criticize."

The multitude looked with wonder on Aeschylus and Sophocles; Euripides delighted them; and it was well known that after the disaster in Sicily many of the Athenian prisoners purchased their liberty by singing or declaiming his poetry.

Purchase Books by Euripides


Back to Euripides Index

Home · Theatre Links · Script Archive · Bookstore · Email · © 2002 TheatreHistory.com