|A statue of Euripides|
Very few facts of Euripides's life are known for certain. He was born in Athens, Greece, around 485 B.C. His family was most likely a prosperous one; his father was named Mnesarchus or Mnesarchide, and his mother was named Cleito. He reportedly married a woman named Melito and had three sons.
Over his career as a poet and dramatist, Euripides wrote approximately 90 plays, 19 of which have survived through manuscripts. Of the three most famous tragic dramatists to come out of ancient Greece—the others being Aeschylus and Sophocles—Euripides was the last and perhaps the most influential.
A few of Euripides's most famous tragedies are Medea, The Bacchae, Hippolytus and Alcestis. Euripides was known for taking a new approach to traditional myths: he often changed elements of their stories or portrayed the more fallible, human sides of their heroes and gods. His plays commonly dwelled on the darker side of existence, with plot elements of suffering, revenge and insanity. Their characters are often motivated by strong passions and intense emotions. Euripides often used the plot device known as "deus ex machina," where a god arrives near the conclusion of the play to settle scores and provide a resolution to the plot.
Euripides's work is also notable for its strong, complex female characters; the women in his tragedies can be victims but also avengers. For example, in Medea, the title character takes revenge on her unfaithful husband by murdering their children as well as his lover. Another play, Hecuba, tells the story of the former queen of Troy, especially her grief over her children's deaths and the retaliation she takes against her son's murderers.