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By: Euripides (484 BC - 406 BC)

Book cover Orestes

In accordance with the advice of the god Apollo, Orestes has killed his mother Clytemnestra to avenge the death of his father Agamemnon at her hands. Despite Apollo’s earlier prophecy, Orestes finds himself tormented by Erinyes or Furies to the blood guilt stemming from his matricide. The only person capable of calming Orestes down from his madness is his sister Electra. To complicate matters further, a leading political faction of Argos wants to put Orestes to death for the murder. Orestes’ only hope to save his life lies in his uncle Menelaus, who has returned with Helen after spending ten years in Troy and several more years amassing wealth in Egypt...

Book cover Iphigenia in Tauris (Murray Translation)

The apparent sacrifice of Iphigenia at Aulis by her own father Agamemnon was forestalled by the godness Artemis, who by an adroit sleight of hand that fooled all participants, substituted a deer for the daughter. Wafted magically away to the “Friendless Shores” of savage Tauris and installed as chief priestess presiding over the human sacrifice of all luckless foreigners, Iphigenia broods over her “murder” by her parents and longs for some Greeks to be shipwrecked on her shores so she can wreak a vicarious vengeance on them...

Book cover Alcestis

Alcestis is the earliest surviving play by Euripides. Alcestis, the devoted wife of King Admetus, has agreed to die in his place, and at the beginning of the play she is close to death. In the first scene, Apollo argues with Thanatos (Death), asking to prolong Alcestis' life, but Thanatos refuses. Apollo leaves, but suggests that a man will come to Pherae who will save Alcestis. Euripides' play is perhaps the most unusual Greek drama ever written: a tragedy that is not a tragedy.

Book cover Trojan Women (Coleridge Translation)

Described by modern playwright Ellen McLaughlin as "perhaps the greatest antiwar play ever written," "The Trojan Women," also known as "Troades," is a tragedy by the Greek playwright Euripides. Produced in 415 BC during the Peloponnesian War, it is often considered a commentary on the capture of the Aegean island of Melos and the subsequent slaughter and subjugation of its populace by the Athenians earlier that year. 415 BC was also the year of the scandalous desecration of the hermai and the Athenians' second expedition to Sicily, events which may also have influenced the author...

Book cover Alcestis (Way Translation)

Alcestis, queen of Pherae, is one of the noblest heroines in all of Greek drama. Her husband Admetus is the supposedly virtuous king of Pherae who wins the friendship of the god Apollo. Apollo tricks the Eumenides into an agreement that when the time comes for Admetus to die, a willing substitute will be accepted in his place, allowing his friend to go on living. Admetus selfishly tries to persuade anyone to agree to be his substitute, even his own parents, but no one is willing to make that sacrifice; this disappointment and its tragic consequences embitter him, leading him ultimately to disown his father and mother...

Book cover Iphigenia in Tauris

Orestes, coming into Tauri in Scythia, in company with Pylades, had been commanded to bear away the image of Diana, after which he was to meet with a respite from the avenging Erinnyes of his mother. His sister Iphigenia, who had been carried away by Diana from Aulis, when on the point of being sacrificed by her father, chances to be expiating a dream that led her to suppose Orestes dead, when a herdsman announces to her the arrival and detection of two strangers, whom she is bound by her office to sacrifice to Diana. On meeting, a mutual discovery takes place, and they plot their escape.

Book cover Hecuba

Like Euripides' Trojan Women, this play takes place after the sack of Troy. Hecuba, widow of King Priam, suffers the loss of her daughter Polyxena and her son Polydore, and is hungry for revenge on those who have wronged her.

Book cover Medea (Way Translation)

Medea is an ancient Greek tragedy written by Euripides, based upon the myth of Jason and Medea and first produced in 431 BCE. The plot centers on the actions of Medea, a barbarian and the wife of Jason; she finds her position in the Greek world threatened as Jason leaves her for a Greek princess of Corinth. Medea takes vengeance on Jason by killing Jason's new wife as well as her own children with him, after which she escapes to Athens to start a new life. Considered shocking to the playwright's contemporaries, Medea and the suite of plays that it accompanied in the City Dionysia festival came last in the festival that year...

Book cover Iphigenia in Aulis

Iphigenia in Aulis is the last extant work of the playwright Euripides. The Greek fleet is waiting at Aulis, Boeotia, with its ships ready to sail for Troy, but it is unable to depart due to a strange lack of wind. After consulting the seer Calchas, the Greek leaders learn that this is no mere meteorological abnormality but rather the will of the goddess Artemis, who is withholding the winds because Agamemnon has caused her offense. Calchas informs the general that in order to appease the goddess, he must sacrifice his eldest daughter, Iphigenia...

Book cover Iphigenia in Aulis (Way translation)

Iphigenia in Aulis (Ancient Greek: Ἰφιγένεια ἐν Αὐλίδι) is the last extant work of the playwright Euripides. Written between 408, after the Oresteia, and 406 BC, the year of Euripides' death, the play was first produced the following year in a trilogy with The Bacchae and Alcmaeon in Corinth by his son or nephew, Euripides the Younger, and won the first place at the Athenian city Dionysia. The play revolves around Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek coalition before and during the Trojan War, and his decision to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, to appease the goddess Artemis and allow his troops to set sail to preserve their honour in battle against Troy...

Book cover Electra (Murray Translation)

Electra (the Unmated One) is eaten up with hatred of her mother Clytemnestra and stepfather Aegisthus for their murder of her father Agamemnon. Married platonically to a good-hearted but poverty-stricken old peasant, she longs for the return of her brother Orestes to help her wreak vengeance. Orestes finally returns and together they carry out their fated work, but find the result to be as tragically meaningless as the lust for vengeance had been poisonous. Strikingly different from Sophocles, who wrote his “Electra” with full sympathy for the divine ordinance of revenge, Euripides squarely blames the God Apollo for putting an evil commandment on the shoulders of the siblings...


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