Ancient History & Civilisation


The standard Greek text, which forms the basis for this translation, is the new Oxford Classical Text edited by J. Diggle (3 volumes, 1981– 94); this supersedes the much-used edition by G. Murray in the same series. As this edition is arranged chronologically, all the plays translated in this Penguin Classic figure in Diggle’s vol. 1. The Oxford Text includes detailed information about the manuscripts and other textual details, but no translation or notes.

Those wishing to consult the plays in Greek will find the best guidance in the following annotated editions:

Alcestis, ed. A. M. Dale (Oxford 1954); see also the shorter edition by D. J. Conacher (Warminster 1988): includes translation.

Hippolytus, ed. W. S. Barrett (Oxford 1964); also the shorter edition by M. R. Halleran (Warminster 1995): includes translation.

Medea, ed. D. L. Page (Oxford 1938); D. J. Mastronarde (Cambridge 2002); also the school edition by A. Elliott (Oxford 1969).

The Children of Heracles (Heraclidae), ed. J. Wilkins (Oxford 1993); W. Allen (Warminster 2002): includes translation.

The Loeb Classical Library, which publishes bilingual editions of most classical authors, is currently bringing out an edition of Euripides by David Kovacs (1994–), arranged chronologically: at the time of writing five volumes have appeared, taking the sequence as far as Orestes. This edition replaces an older and wholly unsatisfactory edition by A.S. Way. Those who need to consider the detail of the Greek text should note that Kovacs presents his own text, which often differs from Diggle’s.

Other translations available include those by various hands in the series edited by D. Grene and R. Lattimore, The Complete Greek Tragedies (Chicago 1941–58). Otherwise, complete versions of Euripides are hard to find, though the major plays are often translated individually or in smaller selections. A parallel enterprise to our own is the series published by Oxford University Press, with translations (prose) by James Morwood and introductions by Edith Hall. These are grouped thematically rather than chronologically; the emphasis in the introductions is on reception and performance history. Three volumes have appeared, of which the first (1997) contains Medea and Hippolytus alongside Electra and Helen.

General works on Greek tragedy

Goldhill, S., Reading Greek Tragedy (Cambridge 1986).

Hall, E., Inventing the Barbarian: Greek Self-definition through Tragedy (Oxford 1989).

Heath, M., The Poetics of Greek Tragedy (London 1987).

Jones, J., On Aristotle and Greek Tragedy (London 1962).

Knox, B. M. W., Word and Action: Essays on the Ancient Theater (Baltimore 1979).

Lesky, A., Greek Tragedy (Eng. tr. London 1954).

Sommerstein, A., Greek Drama and Dramatists (London and New York 2002): a helpful guide to the genre, including much factual data and a selection of translated passages from the dramas themselves and other relevant texts.

Taplin, O., The Stagecraft of Aeschylus (Oxford 1977). Despite the title, relevant to all the tragedians.

Taplin, O., Greek Tragedy in Action (London 1978).

Vernant, J.-P. and Vidal-Naquet, P., Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece (New York 1988): amalgamates two earlier collections of essays.

Vickers, B., Towards Greek Tragedy (London 1973).

Easterling, P. E. and Knox, B. M. W. (eds.), The Cambridge History of Classical Literature, vol. 1 (Cambridge 1985), includes expert essays on the Greek theatre and on each of the three tragedians (Knox covers Euripides); these chapters, together with those on satyric drama and comedy, are reissued in paperback as Greek Drama, ed. Easterling and Knox (Cambridge 1989).

Useful collections of work include:

Easterling, P. E. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy (Cambridge 1997).

McAuslan, I. and Walcot, P. (eds.), Greek Tragedy (Greece and Rome Studies 2, Oxford 1993).

Pelling, C.B.R. (ed.), Greek Tragedy and the Historian (Oxford 1997).

Segal, E. (ed.), Oxford Readings in Greek Tragedy (Oxford 1983).

Silk, M. (ed.), Tragedy and the Tragic (Oxford 1996).

The Greek theatre

Csapo, E. and Slater, W. J., The Context of Ancient Drama (Michigan 1995): this excellent source-book translates and discusses many ancient texts relevant to theatrical conditions in the Greek and Roman world.

Pickard-Cambridge, A. W., The Dramatic Festivals of Athens, 2nd edn, revised by J. Gould and D. M. Lewis (Oxford 1968; reissued 1988). Authoritative, but quotes extensively in the original Greek.

Green, J. R., Theatre in Ancient Greek Society (London 1994).

Green, R. and Handley, E., Images of the Greek Theatre (London 1993).

Rehm, R., Greek Tragic Theatre (London 1992).

Simon, E., The Ancient Theatre (English tr. London and New York 1982).

Historical and cultural background

Andrewes, A., Greek Society (London 1971); originally published as The Greeks (London 1967).

Davies, J. K., Democracy and Classical Greece (London 1978; revised and expanded 1993).

Religion and thought

Bremmer, J. N., Greek Religion (Greece and Rome New Surveys 24, Oxford 1994).

Burkert, W., Greek Religion (Eng. tr. Oxford 1985).

Dodds, E. R., The Greeks and the Irrational (Berkeley 1951).

Easterling, P. E. and Muir, J. V. (eds.), Greek Religion and Society (Cambridge 1985).

Mikalson, J., Athenian Popular Religion (Chapel Hill 1983).

Mikalson, J., Honor thy Gods: Popular Religion in Greek Tragedy (Chapel Hill and London 1991). Helpful, but perhaps emphasizes too strongly the gap between literature and the realities of cult and worship.

Parker, R., Miasma: Pollution and Purification in Early Greek Religion (Oxford 1983).

Studies of Euripides in general, and of the four plays in this volume

Allan, W., Euripides, Medea (London 2002).

Clauss, J. J. and Johnston, S.I. (eds.), Medea: Essays on Medea in Myth, Literature, Philosophy, and Art (Princeton 1997).

Collard, C., Euripides (Greece and Rome New Surveys 14, Oxford 1981). An excellent short account with many examples and full bibliographical guidance.

Conacher, D. J., Euripidean Drama: Myth, Theme and Structure (Toronto and London 1967).

Hall, E., Macintosh, F., and Taplin, O. (eds.), Medea in Performance, 1500–2000 (Legenda, European Humanities Research Centre, Oxford 2000).

Halleran, M. R., Stagecraft in Euripides (London and Sydney 1985).

Knox, B. M. W., ‘The Hippolytus of Euripides’ in Word and Action (see above), pp. 205–30 (originally in Yale Classical Studies 13, 1952).

Knox, B. M. W., ‘The Medea of Euripides’ in Word and Action (see above), pp. 295–322 (originally in Yale Classical Studies 25, 1977).

Michelini, A. N., Euripides and the Tragic Tradition (Madison, Wisconsin and London 1987). This includes valuable chapters on the history of interpretation, and detailed ‘readings’ of four plays, including Hippolytus.

Mills, S., Euripides, Hippolytus (London 2002).

Morwood, J., The Plays of Euripides (Bristol 2002).

Murray, G., Euripides and his Age (London 1913): influential but very outdated.

Zuntz, G.,The Political Plays of Euripides(Manchester 1955): includes detailed account of Heraclidae.

Special aspects

Barlow, S. A., The Imagery of Euripides (London 1971).

Conacher, D. J., Euripides and the Sophists (London 1998).

Jong, I. J. F. de, Narrative in Drama: The Art of the Euripidean Messenger-speech (Mnemosyne Suppl. 116, Leiden 1991).

Kovacs, D., Euripidea (Mnemosyne Suppl. 132, Leiden 1994). Includes text and translation of many passages concerning Euripides’ life, works and reputation in his time; also textual notes on various points in Alcestis and Medea.

Lloyd, M., The Agon in Euripides (Oxford 1992).

General reference works

Hornblower, S. and Spawforth, A. (eds.), The Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd edition, Oxford 1996): detailed and authoritative. For some readers the abridged and illustrated version, The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization (1998), will be more suitable.

Howatson, M., The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (Oxford 1989): useful particularly for summaries of myths.

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