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. The edition is arranged chronologically. All the plays translated in the present volume are in volume 3 of this text.

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

Phoenician Women: D.J. Mastronarde (Cambridge 1994): authoritative, detailed, indispensable. See also the edition by E. Craik (Warminster 1988), including translation: more accessible than Mastronarde, but less reliable.

Orestes: C. W. Willink (Oxford 1986: detailed); M. L. West (Warminster 1987: includes translation).

Bacchae: E. R. Dodds (2nd edn Oxford 1960: a classic work); R. Seaford Warminster 1996: includes translation).

Iphigenia at Aulis: no modern commentary in English: one is imminent from C. Collard. In German note W. Stockert (Vienna 1992); in Italian F. Turato (Venice 2001).

Rhesus: no modern commentary in English (the old school edition by W. H. Porter (Cambridge 1916) is better than nothing). M. Fantuzzi is preparing a commentary for Cambridge.

Other translations

The Loeb Classical Library, which publishes bilingual editions of most classical authors, has recently published a complete edition of Euripides by David Kovacs in six volumes (1994–2002), arranged chronologically: 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. Kovacs explains his textual choices in the companion volumes Euripidea, Euripidea Altera and Euripidea Tertia.

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. The series Greek Tragedy in New Translations published by Oxford University Press (USA) now covers most of the canon, each volume involving collaboration between a poet and a scholar. Other notable individual versions include G. S. Kirk, The Bacchae by Euripides(Englewood Cliffs and Bristol 1970;) K. Cavander, Iphigeneia at Aulis (Englewood Cliffs 1973).

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.

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).

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:

Cropp, M., Lee, K. and Sansone, D. (eds.), Euripides and Tragic Theatre in the Late Fifth Century (Illinois 2000) (= Illinois Classical Studies, vols. 24–5).

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).

Mossman, J. (ed.), Euripides (Oxford Readings in Classical Studies) (Oxford 2003).

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).

Sommerstein, A., Halliwell, S., Henderson, J. and Zimmermann, B. (eds.), Tragedy, Comedy and the Polis (Bari 1993).

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.

Easterling, P. E. and Hall, E. (eds.), Greek and Roman Actors: Aspects of an Ancient Profession (Cambridge 2002).

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

Green, R. and Handley, E., Images of the Greek Theatre (London 1995).

Pickard-Cambridge, A. W., The Dramatic Festivals of Athens (2nd edn revised by J. Gould and D. M. Lewis, Oxford 1968; reissued 1988): an outstanding work, but requires considerable knowledge of Greek.

Simon, E., The Ancient Theatre (Eng. 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).

Hornblower, S., The Greek World 479–323 BC (3rd edn London 2002). Osborne, R. (ed.), Classical Greece (Oxford 2000).

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).

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).

Parker, R., ‘Gods Cruel and Kind: Tragic and Civic Religion’, in C. B. R. Pelling. (ed.), Greek Tragedy and the Historian (see above), pp. 143–60.

Parker, R., Polytheism and Society at Athens (Oxford forthcoming 2005), ch. 7, ‘Religion in the Theatre’.

Sourvinou-Inwood, C., Tragedy and Athenian Religion (Lanham and Oxford 2003): advanced and specialized, but important.

Studies of Euripides in general

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).

Grube, G. M. A., The Drama of Euripides (2nd edn London 1961): sensible, but dated in approach.

Mastronarde, D. J., Euripides and his Art (forthcoming): a general study.

Matthiessen, K., Die Tragoedien des Euripides (Wiesbaden 2002).

Michelini, A. N., Euripides and the Tragic Tradition (Madison and London 1987): valuable chapters on the history of interpretation.

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

Discussions of plays in this volume


Arthur, M. B., ‘The Curse of Civilisation: the Choral Odes of the Phoenissae’, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 81 (1977), pp. 163–85.

Foley, H., Ritual Irony: Poetry and Sacrifice in Euripides (Ithaca 1985), ch. 3.

Mastronarde, D. J., ‘The Optimistic Rationalist in Euripides’, in Greek Tragedy and its Legacy (Festschrift D.J. Conacher), ed. M. Cropp, E. Fantham, S. E. Scully (Calgary 1986), pp. 201–11.

Mueller-Goldingen, C., Untersuchungen zu den Phönissen des Euripides (Stuttgart 1985).

Podlecki, A. J., ‘Some Themes in Euripides’ Phoenissae’, Phoenix 21 (1967), pp. 20–26.

Rawson, E., ‘Family and Fatherland in Euripides’ Phoenissae’, Greek Roman and Byzantine Studies 11 (1970), pp. 109–27.


Burkert, W., ‘Die Absurdität der Gewalt und das Ende der Tragödie: Euripides’ Orestes’, Antike und Abendland 20 (1974), pp. 97–109.

Hall, E., ‘Political and Cosmic Turbulence in Euripides’ Orestes’, in A. Sommerstein et al. (eds.), Tragedy, Comedy and the Polis (see above), pp. 263–85.

Pelling, C. B. R., Greek Literary Texts and the Historian (London 1999), pp. 164–88.

Porter, D. H., Studies in Euripides’ Orestes (Mnemosyne Suppl. 128, Leiden 1993).

Reinhardt, K., ‘Die Sinneskrise bei Euripides’, originally published 1957; Eng. tr. in J. Mossman (ed.), Euripides (see above), pp. 16–46.

Schein, S. L., ‘Mythical Allusion and Historical Reality in Euripides’ Orestes’, Wiener Studien 9 (1975), pp. 49–66.

Zeitlin, F., ‘The Closet of Masks: Role-playing and Myth-making in the Orestes of Euripides’, Ramus 9 (1980), pp. 51–77, reprinted in J. Mossman (ed.), Euripides (see above), pp. 309–41.


(a) Studies of the play

Arthur, M. B., ‘The Choral Odes of the Bacchae of Euripides’, Yale Classical Studies 22 (1972), pp. 145–79.

Burnett, A. P., ‘Pentheus and Dionysus: Host and Guest’, Classical Philology 65 (1970), pp. 15–29.

Foley, H. P., ‘The Masque of Dionysus’, Transactions of the American Philological Association 110 (1980), pp. 107–33, reprinted in J. Mossman (ed.), Euripides (see above).

March, J., ‘Euripides’ Bacchae: a Reconsideration in the Light of the Vase-Paintings’, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 36 (1989), pp. 33–65.

Mills, S., Euripides: Bacchae (London 2005).

Oranje, H., Euripides’ Bacchae. The Play and its Audience (Leiden 1984).

Rijksbaron, A., Grammatical Observations on Euripides’ Bacchae (Amsterdam 1991).

Segal, C., Dionysiac Poetics and Euripides’ Bacchae (Princeton 1982; reprint with important Afterword 1997).

Seidensticker, B. ‘Comic Elements in Euripides’ Bacchae’, American Journal of Philology 99 (1978), pp. 303–20.

Seidensticker, B., ‘Sacrificial Ritual in the Bacchae’, in Arktouros: Hellenic Studies Presented to Bernard M. W. Knox on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, ed. G. W. Bowersock and others (Berlin and New York 1979), pp. 181–96.

Winnington-Ingram, R. P., Euripides and Dionysus (Cambridge 1948; reprint with foreword by P. E. Easterling, Bristol 1997).

(b) Studies of Dionysiac religion and related issues

Bremmer, J. N., ‘Greek Maenadism Reconsidered’, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 55 (1984), pp. 267–86.

Carpenter, T. H. and Faraone, C. A., Masks of Dionysus (Cornell 1993).

Henrichs, A., ‘Loss of Self, Suffering, Violence: the Modern View of Dionysus from Nietzsche to Girard’, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 88 (1984), pp. 205–40: perhaps the most accessible of an important series of papers on Dionysiac religion by this scholar: most of the others are listed in Segal (see Dionysiac Poetics above), pp. 398, 407–8.

Seaford, R., ‘Dionysiac Drama and the Dionysian Mysteries’, Classical Quarterly 31 (1981), pp. 252–75.


Foley, H., Ritual Irony: Poetry and Sacrifice in Euripides (Ithaca, 1985), ch.2.

Knox, B., ‘Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulide 1–163 (in that order)’, Yale Classical Studies 22 (1972), pp. 239–61 = Knox, Word and Action (see above), pp. 275–94.

Knox, B., ‘Review: Iphigenia at Aulis’, in Knox, Word and Action (see above), pp. 343–54.

Kovacs, D., ‘Towards a Reconstruction of Iphigenia Aulidensis’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 123 (2003), pp. 77–103.

Michelakis, P., Achilles in Greek Tragedy (Cambridge 2002) ch. 4.

Michelakis, P., Euripides: Iphigenia at Aulis (London 2005).

Michelini, A. N., ‘The Expansion of Myth in Late Euripides: Iphigeneia at Aulis’, in Cropp et al. (eds.), Euripides and Tragic Theatre (see above), pp. 41-57.

Page, D. L., Actors’ Interpolations in Greek Tragedy (Oxford 1934).


Burnett, A. P., ‘Rhesus: Are Smiles Allowed?’, in P. Burian (ed.), Directions in Euripidean Criticism (Durham, N. C. 1985), pp. 13–51.

Fenik, B., Iliad 10 and the Rhesus: the Myth (Brussels 1964): mainly concerned with the original mythical background.

Kitto, H. D. F., ‘The Rhesus and Related Matters’, Yale Classical Studies 25 (1977), pp. 317–50.

Ritchie, W., The Authenticity of the Rhesus of Euripides (Cambridge 1964): the most detailed investigation, which argues for its being an authentic early work of the poet. (For the other side see E. Fraenkel’s review-discussion of Ritchie, in Gnomon 37 (1965), pp. 228–41 (in German)).

Special aspects

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

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

Diggle, J., Studies in the Text of Euripides (Oxford 1982) and Euripidea (Oxford 1994): detailed discussions of many textual problems by the editor of the standard text.

Foley, H., Female Acts in Greek Tragedy (Princeton 2001).

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

Kovacs, D., Euripidea (Mnemosyne Suppl. 132, Leiden 1994): includes detailed collection and translations of ancient texts which refer to Euripides.

Kovacs, D., Euripidea Tertia (Mnemosyne Suppl. 240, Leiden 2003): includes discussion of textual problems in the plays in this volume, defending the text printed in the author’s Loeb edition.

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

Stinton, T. C. W., ‘Euripides and the Judgement of Paris’, Journal of Hellenic Studies: Supplementary Paper 11 (1965); reprinted in Stinton, Collected Papers on Greek Tragedy (Oxford 1990), pp. 17–75.

General reference works

Hornblower, S. and Spawforth, A. (eds.), The Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd edn Oxford 1996): detailed and authoritative; for some users the abridged and illustrated version, The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilisation (1998), will be more suitable.

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

Gantz, T. N., Early Greek Myth: a Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources (Baltimore 1993). This work is greatly superior to the undeservedly popular account by R. Graves, The Greek Myths (Penguin 1955), which is full of highly fanciful interpretations.

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