Thomas Magister, Life of Euripides
m = reading of part of the MS tradition
P = reading on a papyrus
1 Εὐριπίδηι τῶι ποιητῆι πατρὶς μὲν Ἀθῆναι πατρὶς μὲν Ἀθῆναι Ald. : γένος μὲν Ἀθηναῖος M, πατέρες δὲ Μνήσαρχος κάπηλος καὶ Κλειτὼ λαχανόπωλις. γεννηθεὶς δὲ ἐν Σαλαμῖνι τῆι πρὸ τῆς Ἀττικῆς νήσωι ἐπὶ Καλλίου ἄρχοντος κατὰ τὴν πέμπτην καὶ ἑβδομηκοστὴν ὀλυμπιάδα, ὅτε καὶ τὸ τοῦ Ξέρξου ναυτικὸν κατεναυμάχησαν Ἀθηναῖοι, πρῶτον μὲν ἤσκησε παγκράτιον καὶ πυγμήν, τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτῶι χρησμὸν λαβόντος ὅτι στεφανηφόρους ἀγῶνας ὁ παῖς αὐτῶι νικήσει. ὃ δὴ καὶ εἰς ἔργον προύβη· ἐνίκησε γὰρ ταῦτα Ἀθήνησιν.
1 Euripides the poet was a citizen of Athens. His parents were Mnesarchus the shopkeeper and Cleito the vegetable-seller. He was born on Salamis, the island which faces Attica, in the archonship of Callias in the seventy-fifth Olympiad (455 BCE), when the Athenians also fought the naval battle against Xerxes’ fleet. At first he trained for the pancratium and boxing, since his father had received an oracle that his child would win contests for which garlands are the prize. And, in fact, this was the case; for Euripides was victorious in these at Athens.
2 ἔπειτα εἰς λόγους ὡρμηκὼς ἐφοίτησε παρὰ Ἀναξαγόραι καὶ Προδίκωι καί τισιν ἄλλοις. ἀγχίνους δὲ ὤν, εἴπερ τις, καὶ τῶι πονεῖν ἑαυτὸν ἐκδεδωκὼς εἰς τραγωιδίαν ἐτράπη καὶ ἔλαμψεν ἐπὶ ταύτηι σεμνόν· πολλὰ γὰρ εἰς τὴν τέχνην ἐξεῦρεν, ἃ οὐδειστισοῦν γε τῶν πρὸ αὐτοῦ· τό τε γὰρ ἐν ἀρχῆι τοῦ δράματος τὴν ὑπόθεσιν διατυποῦν καὶ τὸν ἀκροατὴν ὥσπερ χειραγωγεῖν εἰς τὸ ἔμπροσθεν Εὐριπίδου τέχνημα, τό τε σαφήνειαν καὶ πλάτος ἔχειν τὰ λεγόμενα καὶ τὴν ἐρμηνείαν ποικίλλειν ἐπιχειρήσεσί τε καὶ ῥυθμῶι χαρίεντι καὶ γνώμας εἰσάγειν συνεχεῖς καὶ μάλα τῶι ὑποκειμένωι προσφόρους θαυμαστός.
2 Next, having embarked on intellectual activities, he was a disciple of Anaxagoras and rodicus and some others. Being shrewd, if anyone was, and having given himself over to hard work, he turned to tragedy and in this was exceptionally illustrious. For he was responsible for many innovations in the art form, which none of his predecessors had made. The practice of giving an outline of the drama at the beginning and, as it were, leading the listener forwards by the hand, is a Euripidean device. He is also remarkable for the clarity and range of his speeches and for embellishing the expression through argumentation and pleasing rhythm and introducing gnomic statements which are frequent and fit very well with the subject matter.
3 ἔγραψε μὲν οὖν δράματα δύο καὶ ἐννενήκοντα τὰ πάντα, ἐν οἷς ἦν ὀκτὼ μόνα σατυρικά. νενίκησε δὲ ἐν πᾶσι τούτοις τοῖς δράμασι νίκας πέντεκαίδεκα. ἤρξατο δὲ τοῦ περὶ ταῦτα ἀγῶνος ἐτῶν πέντε καὶ εἴκοσι γεγονώς. φασὶ δὲ αὐτὸν καὶ ζωγράφον γεγονέναι καὶ δείκνυσθαι αὐτοῦ πινάκια ἐν Μεγάροις.
3 He wrote ninety-two dramas in all, of which only eight were satyr plays. Among all these plays he was victorious only fifteen times. He began competing in dramatic competitions when he was twenty-five years old. They say that he was also a painter and that his paintings are displayed in Megara.
4 γυναῖκα δὲ γήμας πρώτην μὲν Μελιτώ, ἔπειτα αὐτῆς ἀπελθούσης Χοιρίλην, υἱοὺς ἔσχε τρεῖς· Μνησαρχίδην ἔμπορον, Μνησίλοχον ὑποκριτήν, καὶ ὁμώνυμον αὑτῶι Εὐριπίδην περὶ λόγους διατρίβοντα.
ἦν δὲ σύννους καὶ στρυφνὸς τὸ ἦθος καὶ μισόγελως καὶ σκυθρωπός, καθὰ καὶ Ἀριστοφάνης σκώπτων φησί·
στρυφνὸς ἔμοιγε προσειπεῖν Εὐριπίδης.
4 He married first Melito, then, when she left him, Choirile. He had three sons: Mnesarchides, a merchant; Mnesilochus, an actor; and his namesake, Euripides, who was a man of letters.
He was grave and austere in character, despised laughter, and had a sullen countenance, just as Aristophanes says when he mocks him:
‘Euripides seems to me sour to talk to.’
5 φωράσας δὲ τὸν αὑτοῦ ὑποκριτὴν Κηφισοφῶντα ἐπὶ τῆι γυναικὶ καὶ τὴν ἐντεῦθεν οὐ φέρων αἰσχύνην, σκωπτόμενος ὑπὸ τῶν κωμωιδοποιῶν, ἀφεὶς τὴν Ἀθήνησι διατριβὴν εἰς Μακεδονίαν ἀπῆρε παρὰ τὸν βασιλέα Ἀρχέλαον, καὶ δεχθεὶς ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ κάλλιστα καὶ φιλοτιμηθεὶς μεγίστης ἠξιοῦτο τιμῆς.
5 Having discovered his actor Cephisophon in bed with his wife and finding the consequent shame unendurable, since he was being mocked by the comic poets, he abandoned his life in Athens and departed to Macedonia, to the court of king Archelaus, where he was received very generously and shown great favour and judged worthy of the greatest honour.
6 διατρίβων οὖν ἐκεῖ, ἐπειδὴ ἔν τινι ἄλσει φροντίζων ἔτυχε, κατεβρώθη, ὥς φασιν, ὑπὸ τῶν τοῦ Ἀρχελάου κυνῶν, ἐξιόντος εἰς θήραν, ὑπὲρ τὰ ἑβδομήκοντα ἔτη γεγονώς. ἐτάφη μὲν οὖν ἐν Μακεδονίαι, κενοτάφιον δὲ αὐτοῦ Ἀθήνησι γέγονεν, ἐφ’ οὗ ἐπέγραψε Θουκυδίδης ὁ συγγραφεὺς ἢ Τιμόθεος ὁ μελοποιὸς τάδε·
μνῆμα μὲν Ἑλλὰς ἅπασ’ Εὐριπίδου, ὀστέα δ’ ἴσχει
γῆ Μακεδών, ἥπερ δέξατο τέρμα βίου.
πάτρη δ’ Ἑλλάδος Ἑλλάς, Ἀθῆναι· πλεῖστα δὲ Μούσας
τέρψας ἐκ πολλῶν καὶ τὸν ἔπαινον ἔχει.
6 So spending time there, when he happened to be taking thought in a certain grove, he was devoured, as they say, by Archelaus’ dogs when the king had gone hunting, when he was over seventy years old. So he was buried in Macedonia, but there was a cenotaph for him at Athens, on which Thucydides the historian or Timotheus the lyric poet wrote the following:
All of Hellas is the memorial of Euripides, but the land of the Macedonians has his bones, since it hosted the end of his life. But his fatherland was Athens, the Hellas of Hellas. Since he gave great delight to the Muses he has praise from many.
7 φασὶ δὲ ἐπὶ τῶι ἀκούσματι τῆς Εὐριπίδου τελευτῆς τοὺς μὲν Ἀθηναίους πάντας πενθῆσαι, Σοφοκλέα δὲ αὐτὸν μὲν καὶ φαιὸν ἐνδεδύσθαι χιτῶνα, τοὺς δὲ ὑποκριτὰς αὐτοῦ ἀστεφανώτους τῶι τότε εἰσαγαγεῖν πρὸς τὸν ἀγῶνα. οὕτω δὲ αὐτὸν Φιλήμων ἠγάπησεν, ὡς καὶ τάδε περὶ αὐτοῦ τολμῆσαι εἰπεῖν·
εἰ ταῖς ἀληθείαισιν οἱ τεθνηκότες
αἴσθησιν εἶχον ἄνδρες ὥς φασίν τινες,
ἀπηγξάμην ἂν ὥστ’ ἰδεῖν Εὐριπίδην.
Fr. 118 K.-A.
οὕτως ἡγοῦντο πολλοῦ τινος ἄξιον.
7 They say that all the Athenians grieved upon hearing of Euripides’ death, and Sophocles himself donned a dark cloak and brought his actors on without garlands to the agon that was taking place at the time. Philemon loved him so much that he even dared to say the following about him:
If truly the dead had perception, as some men say, I would have hanged myself so as to see Euripides.
Such was the regard in which people held him.