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Comparison Of Sophocles' And Euripides' Portrayal Of Humanity. Sophocles' Is Said To Have Portrayed Men As They Ought To Be, While Euripides Is Said To Have Portrayed Men "As They Are"

702 words - 3 pages

The great poet Aristotle once said that Sophocles “portrayed men as they ought to be while Euripides portrayed men as they really are.” It can be argued that Sophocles did not portray an idealized version of man because his works did have both an antagonist and a protagonist, but even the antagonists in Sophocles’ plays were scrupulous. Furthermore, the manner in which Euripides portrays the characters in his plays adheres to a level of psychology unprecedented in his time, thus portraying men “as they really are.”For example, during the recognition scene in Euripides’ play Electra, the recognition scene in Aeschylus’ version of the myth is parodied as Euripides uses Electra to voice the incredibility of the “signs” used in the Libation Bearers, which is much more typical of what someone in Electra’s position would do. Instead, she recognizes Orestes when the old man points out a scar on his head. Here Euripides uses realism which is very typical of his style throughout many of his works.Sophocles on the other hand portrays the characters in his plays as men of principle. For instance in Oedipus the King, Oedipus is portrayed as a sympathetic ruler and a doer of great deeds. However, Oedipus ultimately turns out to be a sinner and the source of the plague in Thebes. Another example of the high moral standards of Sophocles’ characters is Oedipus’ insistence on having the old man speak in front of everyone instead of “keeping quiet” as he wanted (Oedpius Rex 1372) and this is representative of the concept that noble men hide nothing and keep everything out in the open. When he realized his sins were the source of the plague in Thebes, Oedipus gouged his own eyes; a more realistic Oedipus would have simply left the city in exile, but Sophocles’ ideal tragic hero must rise above and beyond what the common man would do.Another example of Eurpides’ realism is in his play the Phrygian Slave, when Orestes went from becoming the captive to the captor, and was in control of the slave’s fate. Instead of...

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