Postacie, konflikt i współczesność: o oryginalność Eurypidesa

Translated title of the contribution: Character, conflict and contemporaneity : Euripides’ originality

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In this chapter I draw out three aspects of Euripides’ ‘human voice’ which offer good evidence to support a claim that his status as an innovator has some truth to it, rather than simply being a mirage constituted by the legacy of comedic exaggeration (and its implied conservatism) or by the accidents of partial, textual survival for the Attic tragic corpus. Via an innovative reading of the roles of Iolaus and Eurystheus in The Children of Heracles, I focus mainly on the first aspect: characterization.

I argue that Euripides’ interest in depicting the totality of humanity via more ‘everyday’ language and scenic vignettes which would feel very familiar to his audience produced some very distinctive, realistic and affecting moments of characterization and character interaction. The distinctively Euripidean achievement with dramatic and moral character was also constituted in performance by gesture, bodily movement and physicality. And it was even a matter of tragedy’s music and chorality: these were used imaginatively by Euripides to construct and comment on character. I show that Euripides seems to have been particularly adept at integrating individual ‘character moments’ – scenes or speeches which delve into a single character’s outlook and motivations - with future plot developments and wider themes. Finally, Euripides’ distinctive use of characterization was clearly grounded in his understanding of theatre’s capacity to expose the very notion of moral character and identity as a provisional and unstable. After all, what is ‘character’ other than the attribution of qualities to a person or persons which are often contested and usually need to be revised in the light of new events or information?

I then offer a very brief consideration of the second and third aspects: Euripides’ distinctive depiction of conflict and his arguably unique relationship with contemporaneous non-dramatic discourses which were flourishing and revolutionizing culture and thought in the second half of the fifth century.
Translated title of the contributionCharacter, conflict and contemporaneity : Euripides’ originality
Original languagePolish
Title of host publicationEurypides innowator
EditorsKrzysztof Bielawski, Wlodzimierz Staniewski
Place of PublicationWarsaw
PublisherUniversity of Warsaw
Number of pages29
ISBN (Print)9788394260422, 9788395731891
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


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