In Euripides we have the boldest innovator, both in the resources of dramaturgy and in the moral problems which he treats. Even he cannot break entirely with tradition, and it is a curious chance that the latest play of this great period, “The Bacchae,”〖H. C., viii, 368.〗 harks back to the theme of the earliest tragedies, the savage triumph of Dionysus over his persecutors. But the method of Euripides leads him to devices for which he was bitterly criticized. His characters are no longer gods, the motive power in his plots no longer divine. They are men and women, often moved by sordid and trivial causes, yet none the less pathetic. To Aristotle he is the most tragic of the three, and his appeal to sympathy is strong because his personages are human. The effects of tragedy, pity and terror, become more vivid because the sufferers are made of the same stuff as the audience. In plot he is less skillful than Sophocles at his best, and he sometimes has recourse to the deus ex machina to cut the complicated knot of his own tying. Yet even here the appearance of the god, as at the end of the “Hippolytus,”〖H. C., viii, 303.〗 is justified by its spectacular effect.

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