What Thucydides says about the total tergiversation of the Greek ethos in the course of the Peloponnesian War remains the best introduction to the late, bleak, crazy plays of Euripides:

Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self-defense. Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted, and anyone who objected to them became a suspect. To plot successfully was a sign of intelligence, but it was still cleverer to see that a plot was hatching… . Revenge was more important than self-preservation… . Love of power, operating through greed and through personal ambition, was the cause of all these evils. To this must be added the violent fanaticism which came into play once the struggle had broken out… . [T]here was a general deterioration of character through the Greek world. The simple way of looking at things, which is...

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