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[20arg] Certain facts about the birth, life and character of the poet Euripides, and about the end of his life.


THEOPOMPUS says 1 that the mother of the poet Euripides made a living by selling country produce. Furthermore, when Euripides was born, his father was assured by the astrologers that the boy, when he grew up, would be victor in the games; for that was his destiny. His father, understanding this to mean that he ought to be an athlete, exercised and strengthened his son's body and took him to Olympia to contend among the wrestlers. And at first he was not admitted to the contest because of his time of life, 2 but afterwards he engaged in the Eleusinian 3 and Thesean 4 contests and won crowns. [p. 107] Later, turning from attention to bodily exercise to the desire of training his mind, he was a pupil of the natural philosopher Anaxagoras and the rhetorician Prodicus, and, in moral philosophy, of Socrates. At the age of eighteen he attempted to write a tragedy. Philochorus relates 5 that there is on the island of Salamis a grim and gloomy cavern, 6 which I myself have seen, in which Euripides wrote tragedies. He is said to have had an exceeding antipathy towards almost all women, either because he had a natural disinclination to their society, or because he had had two wives at the same time (since that was permitted by a decree passed by the Athenians) and they had made wedlock hateful to him. Aristophanes also notices his antipathy to women in the first edition of the Thesmophoriazousae in these verses: 7
Now then I urge and call on all our sex
This man to punish for his many crimes.
For on us, women, he brings bitter woes,
Himself brought up 'mid bitter garden plants.
But Alexander the Aetolian composed the following lines about Euripides: 8

The pupil of stout Anaxagoras,
Of churlish speech and gloomy, ne'er has learned
To jest amid the wine; but what he wrote
Might honey and the Sirens well have known.
When Euripides was in Macedonia at the court of Archelaus, and had become an intimate friend of the king, returning home one night from a dinner with the monarch he was torn by dogs, which were set [p. 109] upon him by a rival of his, and death resulted from his wounds. 9 The Macedonians treated his tomb and his memory with such honour that they used to proclaim: “Never, Euripides, shall thy monument perish,” also by way of self-glorification, because the distinguished poet had met his death and been buried in their land. Therefore when envoys, sent to them by the Athenians, begged that they should allow his bones to be moved to Athens, his native land, the Macedonians unanimously persisted in refusing.

1 F.H. G. i. 294.

2 He was too old for the boys' races.

3 Athletic games in connection with the Eleusinian mysteries.

4 A festival held at Athens in the autumn in the month Pyanepsion, in honour of Theseus.

5 F.H. G. i. 412.

6 These words are probably not part of the quotation.

7 453 ff.

8 Anal. Alex. p. 247, Meineke.

9 He died in 406 B.C.; according to another version of the story it was a band of women who tore him to pieces. Both tales are of doubtful authenticity; the one told by Gellius appears also in Athenaeus xiii. 597, but is denied in verses preserved in Suidas, s.v. ὑπαίμεκε.

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