Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 492
Eighteen of Euripides’s plays have survived, each of which contains elements of the dramatist’s non-traditional style that raised criticism from his contemporaries and earned him the respect and admiration of later generations of play readers and theatergoers. One of his most popular works is Medea, Euripides’s 431 B.C. retelling of the myth of the sorceress who, faced with abandonment and exile in a strange land, murdered her own children and cursed her unfaithful husband. Hippolytus (428 B.C.) is the story of King Theseus’s bride Phaedra, who falls in love with her stepson, Hippolytus, leading them both down a path toward destruction.
Classical historian Michael Grant has written several books about the ancient Greeks and Romans, including The Rise of the Greeks (1987), which largely examines the political and military history of the Greek Empire; The Classical Greeks (1989), which provides a profile of Greek society through brief biographical essays about prominent Greek writers, philosophers, and leaders; and A Social History of Greece and Rome (1992), an exploration of the roles of women and men, slaves and citizens in Greek society.
The Mask of Apollo is a novel of historical fiction by Mary Renault. Niko, the story’s protagonist, is an actor in the 4th century B.C. who travels the Greek Empire, performing for kings and tyrants and befriending Plato, the famous philosopher, and Dion, a great soldier and statesman. The book draws on Renault’s lifetime of classical research and presents an engaging glimpse into the life of the Greeks thousands of years ago.
Much of what is known of classical Greek tragedy is recorded in Aristotle’s Poetics, a 4th century B.C. treatise in which the philosopher attempts to describe dramatic poetry (tragedy). Aristotle suggests the six essential ingredients of good tragedies are plot, character, theme, diction, music, and spectacle; and he refers specifi- cally to the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides as examples. While several translations and editions of the Poetics exist, S. H. Butcher’s version, which first appeared in 1902, is one that is often used in the classroom and appears frequently in literary anthologies.
For nearly 150 years, students and teachers alike have relied on Bulfinch’s Mythology as a dependable and entertaining way to learn about the great heroes, gods, and myths of the world. In this great collection of legends, originally published in 1855 but readily available in recent editions, Thomas Bulfinch has carefully researched and retold some of the greatest stories the world has ever known, including tales about the full pantheon of Greek gods and the mortals who dared to cross them.
Peter Connolly’s The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens & Rome is an introduction to the history and culture of two of the world’s greatest empires. Filled with original drawings, suggesting what ancient theatres, temples, and homes may have looked like, as well as photographs and helpful maps, Connolloy’s carefully researched text is simple, straightforward, and entertaining.
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