Euripides' Revolution under Cover

Euripides' Revolution under Cover

An Essay

In this provocative book, Pietro Pucci explores what he sees as Euripides's revolutionary literary art. While scholars have long pointed to subversive elements in Euripides’s plays, Pucci goes a step further in identifying a Euripidean program of enlightened thought enacted through carefully wrought textual strategies. The driving force behind this program is Euripides’s desire to subvert the traditional anthropomorphic view of the Greek gods—a belief system that in his view strips human beings of their independence and ability to act wisely and justly. Instead of fatuous religious beliefs, Athenians need the wisdom and the strength to navigate the challenges and difficulties of life.

Throughout his lifetime, Euripides found himself the target of intense criticism and ridicule. He was accused of promoting new ideas that were considered destructive. Like his contemporary, Socrates, he was considered a corrupting influence. No wonder, then, that Euripides had to carry out his revolution "under cover." Pucci lays out the various ways the playwright skillfully inserted his philosophical principles into the text through innovative strategies of plot development, language and composition, and production techniques that subverted the traditionally staged anthropomorphic gods.