January 27, 2010


For my literature project, I read 10 plays by Euripides.

So much of Greek tragedy revolves around fate and prophesy and gods and grief and so many other things I don't believe in; it seemed crafted to repel me. I had hoped that Euripides would be different, especially after hearing the following repeated so many times: "Of all the ancient Greek dramatists, Euripides says the most to modern readers." How careless I was to consider myself a modern reader! (Even Cyclops disappointed me!)

What to say of Euripides? However much I may put him and tragedy down, honesty bids me say that I have enjoyed myself. Greek myth, once so foreign to me, becomes clearer with every play I read. With every play I read, I enjoy myself the more. I am now comfortable with the stories, the themes, the places, the people, the gods. And I desire more. I may read the rest of Euripides's surviving plays soon, and I am tempted to reread Aeschylus and Aristophanes (what emotions will they teach me this time through?).

But I am kind of puzzled about what makes Euripides so "modern." He is more cruel than Sophocles and Aeschylus, I think. His gods and people are less noble. Does cynicism speak to modernity? Do we prefer the flawed and ugly to the ideal? Undoubtedly we do. It speaks the most to our experience. But I -- to separate myself from tragedy -- seek something else. Something more mundane. Something more aloof. Something more--

But who knows what I seek? Perhaps a trip to the oracle will tell me. Excuse me while I make my sacrifices at Delphi...

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