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Euripides, The Derveni Papyrus, And The Smoke Of Many Writings

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Chapter Summary

Euripides' use of sophistic and philosophical ideas is a familiar topic of scholarship. This paper will present and explore three related, and less familiar, points about Euripides' treatment of contemporary thought. First, Euripides' plays were surely one of the most important mechanisms by which Greeks who were not readers or intellectuals learned about these new ideas. Second, Euripides' characters do not simply re-state arguments made by philosophers and sophists, but recombine them in new ways. Third, his characters do not just recombine and vary philosophical ideas, but also bring together contemporary philosophy with religious ideas and practices. This third strand is reminiscent of the Derveni Papyrus. Both Euripides and other contemporary intellectuals were combining ways of making sense of the world that moderns might see as entirely distinct. P. Derveni and Euripides' plays present often very similar material to very different audiences, using very different modes of transmission.

Keywords: Derveni Papyrus; Dionysus; Euripides; Hippolytus; philosophy; religious; writings



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