The textual transmission of Euripides’ dramas

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The City Dionysia at Athens saw ninety new tragedies, plus thirty new satyr plays, every decade. Still more tragedies were performed at the Lenaea, also a city festival, and at the Rural Dionysia in the demes. Venues for tragedy outside Attica featured already in the fifth century, and with increasing importance in the fourth and beyond. The total number of tragedies and satyr plays composed for performance at Greek festivals in antiquity is likely to have been in the low thousands. Of these, barely a handful remain; yet the tragedian to whom this Companion is devoted was more fortunate, in terms of the survival of his work, than any other. Six of Aeschylus’ ninety or so plays remain, seven of Sophocles hundred and twenty-three. Yet for Euripides, fully eighteen out of a total output of around eighty have come down to us: almost a quarter of his output. And the fragments of his lost plays are far more substantial than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles.

Why did some of Euripides’ plays survive, in full or in part, when the
overwhelming majority of Greek tragedies were lost? Why did such a high proportion of his plays survive compared to the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles? What lay behind the survival of particular plays, and the loss of others? For what purposes were Euripides’ plays transmitted? What impact did ancient scholarship have on the transmission of the plays? Which plays were being read during the mediaeval period? What impact did the invention of the printing press have on the process of transmission? Has scholarship since the end of antiquity assisted that process? And how will the transmission continue into the future?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBrill’s Companion to Euripides
EditorsA. Markantonatos
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-43535-3
ISBN (Print)978-90-04-26970-5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2020

Publication series

NameBrill's Companions to Classical Studies
ISSN (Print)1872-3357


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