Aeschylus

Aeschylus

Overview
Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles
Sophocles
Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

 and Euripides
Euripides
Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles. Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him but according to the Suda it was ninety-two at most...

, and is often described as the father of tragedy. His name derives from the Greek word aiskhos (αἶσχος), meaning "shame". According to Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, he expanded the number of characters in plays to allow for conflict amongst them; previously, characters interacted only with the chorus
Greek chorus
A Greek chorus is a homogenous, non-individualised group of performers in the plays of classical Greece, who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action....

. Only seven of his estimated seventy to ninety plays have survived into modern times; and there is a longstanding debate about his authorship of one of these plays, Prometheus Bound.

At least one of Aeschylus's works was influenced by the Persian invasion of Greece, which took place during his lifetime.
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Quotations

His resolve is not to seem, but to be, the best.

Variant: To be rather than to seem.

Success is man’s god.

Choephoræ, 59, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

So in the Libyan fable it is toldThat once an eagle, stricken with a dart,Said, when he saw the fashion of the shaft,"With our own feathers, not by others' hands,Are we now smitten."

Frag. 135 (trans. by Plumptre), reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

Of all the gods, Death only craves not gifts:Nor sacrifice, nor yet drink-offering pouredAvails; no altars hath he, nor is soothedBy hymns of praise. From him alone of allThe powers of heaven Persuasion holds aloof.

Frag. 146 (trans. by Plumptre), reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

O Death the Healer, scorn thou not, I pray,To come to me: of cureless ills thou artThe one physician. Pain lays not its touchUpon a corpse.

Frag. 250 (trans. by Plumptre), reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

A prosperous fool is a grievous burden.

Frag. 383, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

Bronze is the mirror of the form; wine, of the heart.

Frag. 384, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.

Frag. 385, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

I would far rather be ignorant than knowledgeable of evil.

l. 453. Compare: "where ignorance is bliss, ’T is folly to be wise", Thomas Gray, On a Distant Prospect of Eton College, Stanza 10.

"Reverence for parents" stands written among the three laws of most revered righteousness.

l. 707. Alternately reported with "Honour thy father and thy mother" in place of "Reverence for parents", in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
Encyclopedia
Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles
Sophocles
Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

 and Euripides
Euripides
Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles. Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him but according to the Suda it was ninety-two at most...

, and is often described as the father of tragedy. His name derives from the Greek word aiskhos (αἶσχος), meaning "shame". According to Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, he expanded the number of characters in plays to allow for conflict amongst them; previously, characters interacted only with the chorus
Greek chorus
A Greek chorus is a homogenous, non-individualised group of performers in the plays of classical Greece, who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action....

. Only seven of his estimated seventy to ninety plays have survived into modern times; and there is a longstanding debate about his authorship of one of these plays, Prometheus Bound.

At least one of Aeschylus's works was influenced by the Persian invasion of Greece, which took place during his lifetime. This play, The Persians
The Persians
The Persians is an Athenian tragedy by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus. First produced in 472 BCE, it is the oldest surviving play in the history of theatre...

, is a source of information about this period in Greek history. So important was the war to Aeschylus and the Greeks that, upon his death, around 456 BC, his epitaph commemorated his participation in the Greek victory at Marathon
Battle of Marathon
The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC, during the first Persian invasion of Greece. It was fought between the citizens of Athens, aided by Plataea, and a Persian force commanded by Datis and Artaphernes. It was the culmination of the first attempt by Persia, under King Darius I, to subjugate...

 rather than his success as a playwright.

Life


There are no reliable sources for the life of Aeschylus. He was said to have been born in c. 525 BC in Eleusis, a small town about 27 kilometers northwest of Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, which is nestled in the fertile valleys of western Attica
Attica
Attica is a historical region of Greece, containing Athens, the current capital of Greece. The historical region is centered on the Attic peninsula, which projects into the Aegean Sea...

, though the date is most likely based on counting back forty years from his first victory in the Great Dionysia. His family was wealthy and well established; his father Euphorion was a member of the Eupatridae
Eupatridae
Eupatridae refers to the ancient nobility of the Greek region of Attica....

, the ancient nobility of Attica. As a youth he worked at a vineyard
Vineyard
A vineyard is a plantation of grape-bearing vines, grown mainly for winemaking, but also raisins, table grapes and non-alcoholic grape juice...

 until, according to the 2nd-century AD geographer Pausanias
Pausanias (geographer)
Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD, who lived in the times of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is famous for his Description of Greece , a lengthy work that describes ancient Greece from firsthand observations, and is a crucial link between classical...

, the god Dionysus
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

 visited him in his sleep and commanded him to turn his attention to the nascent art of tragedy. As soon as he woke from the dream, the young Aeschylus began writing a tragedy, and his first performance took place in 499 BC, when he was only 26 years old; He would win his first victory at the City Dionysia in 484 BC.

In 510 BC, Cleomenes I
Cleomenes I
Cleomenes or Kleomenes was an Agiad King of Sparta in the late 6th and early 5th centuries BC. During his reign, which started around 520 BC, he pursued an adventurous and at times unscrupulous foreign policy aimed at crushing Argos and extending Sparta's influence both inside and outside the...

 (Aeschylus was 15 at the time) expelled the sons of Peisistratus from Athens, and Cleisthenes
Cleisthenes
Cleisthenes was a noble Athenian of the Alcmaeonid family. He is credited with reforming the constitution of ancient Athens and setting it on a democratic footing in 508/7 BC...

 came to power. His reforms included a system of registration that emphasized the importance of the deme
Deme
In Ancient Greece, a deme or demos was a subdivision of Attica, the region of Greece surrounding Athens. Demes as simple subdivisions of land in the countryside seem to have existed in the 6th century BC and earlier, but did not acquire particular significance until the reforms of Cleisthenes in...

 over family tradition. In the last decade of the 6th century, Aeschylus and his family were living in the deme of Eleusina
Eleusina
Eleusina is a town and municipality in West Attica, Greece. It is situated about 18 km northwest from the centre of Athens. It is located in the Thriasian Plain, at the northernmost end of the Saronic Gulf. It is the seat of administration of West Attica regional unit...

.

The Persian Wars would play a large role in the playwright's life and career. In 490 BC, Aeschylus and his brother Cynegeirus fought to defend Athens against Darius
Darius I of Persia
Darius I , also known as Darius the Great, was the third king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire...

' invading Persian army at the Battle of Marathon
Battle of Marathon
The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC, during the first Persian invasion of Greece. It was fought between the citizens of Athens, aided by Plataea, and a Persian force commanded by Datis and Artaphernes. It was the culmination of the first attempt by Persia, under King Darius I, to subjugate...

. The Athenians emerged triumphant, a victory celebrated across the city-states of Greece. Cynegeirus however died in the battle, receiving a mortal wound while trying to prevent a Persian ship retreating from the shore, for which his countrymen extolled him as a hero. In 480, Aeschylus was called into military service again, this time against Xerxes
Xerxes I of Persia
Xerxes I of Persia , Ḫšayāršā, ), also known as Xerxes the Great, was the fifth king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire.-Youth and rise to power:...

' invading forces at the Battle of Salamis
Battle of Salamis
The Battle of Salamis was fought between an Alliance of Greek city-states and the Persian Empire in September 480 BCE, in the straits between the mainland and Salamis, an island in the Saronic Gulf near Athens...

, and perhaps, too, at the Battle of Plataea
Battle of Plataea
The Battle of Plataea was the final land battle during the second Persian invasion of Greece. It took place in 479 BC near the city of Plataea in Boeotia, and was fought between an alliance of the Greek city-states, including Sparta, Athens, Corinth and Megara, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes...

 in 479. Ion of Chios
Ion of Chios
Ion of Chios was a Greek writer, dramatist, lyric poet and philosopher. He was a contemporary of Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles. Of his many plays and poems only a few titles and fragments have survived...

 was a witness for Aeschylus's war record and his contribution in Salamis. Salamis holds a prominent place in The Persians, his oldest surviving play
Play (theatre)
A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference whether their plays were performed...

, which was performed in 472 BC and won first prize at the Dionysia.

Aeschylus was one of many Greeks who had been initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries
Eleusinian Mysteries
The Eleusinian Mysteries were initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, these were held to be the ones of greatest importance...

, a cult to Demeter
Demeter
In Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains, the fertility of the earth, and the seasons . Her common surnames are Sito as the giver of food or corn/grain and Thesmophoros as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society...

 based in his hometown of Eleusis. As the name implies, members of the cult were supposed to have gained some secret knowledge. Firm details of specific rites are sparse, as members were sworn under the penalty of death not to reveal anything about the Mysteries to non-initiates. Nevertheless, according to Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 some thought that Aeschylus had revealed some of the cult's secrets on stage. Other sources claim that an angry mob tried to kill Aeschylus on the spot, but he fled the scene. Heracleides of Pontus asserts that the crowd watching the play tried to stone Aeschylus. He then took refuge at the altar in the orchestra of the Theater of Dionysus. When he stood trial for his offense he pleaded ignorance. He was acquitted, with the jury sympathetic to the wounds that Aeschylus and his brother Cynegeirus suffered at Marathon. According to the 2nd-century AD author Aelian, Aeschylus's younger brother Ameinias
Ameinias of Athens
Ameinias was a younger brother of the playwright Aeschylus, of the Attic deme of Pallene according to Herodotus, or of that of Decelea according to Plutarch, distinguished himself at the battle of Salamis, revenging the death of his brother Cynaegirus at Marathon, by making the first attack upon...

 helped acquit his brother by showing the jury the stump of the hand that he lost at Salamis, where he was voted bravest warrior. The truth is that the award for bravery at Salamis went to Ameinias of Pallene, not Aeschylus's brother.

Aeschylus travelled to Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 once or twice in the 470s BC, having been invited by Hiero I of Syracuse
Hiero I of Syracuse
Hieron I was the son of Deinomenes, the brother of Gelon and tyrant of Syracuse in Sicily from 478 to 467 BC. In succeeding Gelon, he conspired against a third brother Polyzelos. During his reign, he greatly increased the power of Syracuse...

, a major Greek city on the eastern side of the island; and during one of these trips he produced The Women of Aetna (in honor of the city founded by Hieron) and restaged his Persians. By 473 BC, after the death of Phrynichus, one of his chief rivals, Aeschylus was the yearly favorite in the Dionysia, winning first prize in nearly every competition. In 472 BC, Aeschylus staged the production that included the Persians, with Pericles
Pericles
Pericles was a prominent and influential statesman, orator, and general of Athens during the city's Golden Age—specifically, the time between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars...

 serving as choregos.

In 458 BC, he returned to Sicily for the last time, visiting the city of Gela
Gela
Gela is a town and comune in the province of Caltanissetta in the south of Sicily, Italy. The city is at about 84 kilometers distance from the city of Caltanissetta, on the Mediterranean Sea. The city has a larger population than the provincial capital, and ranks second in land area.Gela is an...

 where he died in 456 or 455 BC. It is claimed that he was killed by a tortoise that fell out of the sky when dropped by an eagle; however, this story is very likely apocryphal. Aeschylus's work was so respected by the Athenians, that after his death his were the only tragedies allowed to be restaged in subsequent competitions. His sons Euphorion and Euæon and his nephew Philocles also become playwrights.

The inscription on Aeschylus's gravestone makes no mention of his theatrical renown, commemorating only his military achievements:
Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

Beneath this stone lies Aeschylus, son of Euphorion, the Athenian,
who perished in the wheat-bearing land of Gela;
of his noble prowess the grove of Marathon can speak,
and the long-haired Persian knows it well.

Personal life


Aeschylus married and had two sons, Euphorion and Euaeon (both of whom would become tragic poets). His nephew, Philocles
Philocles
Philocles was an Athenian tragic poet during the 5th century BCE. He was the nephew of the famous poet Aeschylus, being the son of Aeschylus' sister. He is best known for winning first prize in the competition against Sophocles' Oedipus Rex...

 (his sister's son), was also a tragic poet, and won first prize in the competition against Sophocles
Sophocles
Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

' Oedipus Rex. A scholiast has noted that Philocles' Tereus was part of his Pandionis
Pandion I
In Greek mythology, Pandion I was a legendary king of Athens, the son and heir to Erichthonius of Athens and his wife, the naiad Praxithea. He married a naiad, Zeuxippe, and they had four children, Erechtheus, Butes, Procne, and Philomela. His rule was unremarkable...

tetralogy. Aeschylus had at least two brothers, Cynegeirus and Ameinias.

Works


The roots of Greek drama are in religious festivals for the gods, chiefly Dionysus
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

, the god of wine. During Aeschylus's lifetime, dramatic competitions became part of the City Dionysia in the spring. The festival opened with a procession, followed with a competition of boys singing dithyramb
Dithyramb
The dithyramb was an ancient Greek hymn sung and danced in honour of Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility; the term was also used as an epithet of the god: Plato, in The Laws, while discussing various kinds of music mentions "the birth of Dionysos, called, I think, the dithyramb." Plato also...

s and culminated in a pair of dramatic competitions. The first competition Aeschylus would have participated in, consisted of three playwrights each presenting three tragic plays followed by a shorter comedic satyr play
Satyr play
Satyr plays were an ancient Greek form of tragicomedy, similar in spirit to burlesque. They featured choruses of satyrs, were based on Greek mythology, and were rife with mock drunkenness, brazen sexuality , pranks, sight gags, and general merriment.Satyric drama was one of the three varieties of...

. A second competition of five comedic playwrights followed, and the winners of both competitions were chosen by a panel of judges.

Aeschylus entered many of these competitions in his lifetime, and various ancient sources attribute between seventy and ninety plays to him. Only seven tragedies have survived intact: The Persians
The Persians
The Persians is an Athenian tragedy by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus. First produced in 472 BCE, it is the oldest surviving play in the history of theatre...

, Seven against Thebes
Seven Against Thebes
The Seven against Thebes is the third play in an Oedipus-themed trilogy produced by Aeschylus in 467 BC. The trilogy is sometimes referred to as the Oedipodea. It concerns the battle between an Argive army led by Polynices and the army of Thebes led by Eteocles and his supporters. The trilogy won...

, The Suppliants
The Suppliants (Aeschylus)
The Suppliants is a play by Aeschylus. It was probably first performed sometime after 470 BC as the first play in a tetralogy, sometimes referred to as the Danaid Tetralogy, which probably included the lost plays The Egyptians , and The Daughters of Danaus , and the satyr play Amymone...

, the trilogy known as The Oresteia
The Oresteia
The Oresteia is a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus which concerns the end of the curse on the House of Atreus. When originally performed it was accompanied by Proteus, a satyr play that would have been performed following the trilogy; it has not survived...

, consisting of the three tragedies Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers and The Eumenides, together with Prometheus Bound
Prometheus Bound
Prometheus Bound is an Ancient Greek tragedy. In Antiquity, this drama was attributed to Aeschylus, but is now considered by some scholars to be the work of another hand, perhaps one as late as ca. 415 BC. Despite these doubts of authorship, the play's designation as Aeschylean has remained...

(whose authorship is disputed). With the exception of this last play — the success of which is uncertain — all of Aeschylus's extant
Extant literature
Extant literature refers to texts that have survived from the past to the present time. Extant literature can be divided into extant original manuscripts, copies of original manuscripts, quotations and paraphrases of passages of non-extant texts contained in other works, translations of non-extant...

 tragedies are known to have won first prize at the City Dionysia. The Alexandrian Life of Aeschylus claims that he won the first prize at the City Dionysia thirteen times. This compares favorably with Sophocles' reported eighteen victories (with a substantially larger catalogue, at an estimated 120 plays), and dwarfs the five victories of Euripides, who is thought to have written roughly 90 plays.

Trilogies


One hallmark of Aeschylean dramaturgy appears to have been his tendency to write connected trilogies, in which each play serves as a chapter in a continuous dramatic narrative. The Oresteia
The Oresteia
The Oresteia is a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus which concerns the end of the curse on the House of Atreus. When originally performed it was accompanied by Proteus, a satyr play that would have been performed following the trilogy; it has not survived...

is the only extant example of this type of connected trilogy, but there is evidence that Aeschylus often wrote such trilogies. The comic satyr plays that follow his trilogies also drew upon stories derived from myths.

For example, the Oresteias satyr play Proteus
Proteus
In Greek mythology, Proteus is an early sea-god, one of several deities whom Homer calls the "Old Man of the Sea", whose name suggests the "first" , as protogonos is the "primordial" or the "firstborn". He became the son of Poseidon in the Olympian theogony In Greek mythology, Proteus (Πρωτεύς)...

treated the story of Menelaus' detour in Egypt on his way home from the Trojan War
Trojan War
In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta. The war is among the most important events in Greek mythology and was narrated in many works of Greek literature, including the Iliad...

. Based on the evidence provided by a catalogue of Aeschylean play titles, scholia, and play fragments recorded by later authors, it is assumed that three other of his extant plays were components of connected trilogies:
Seven against Thebes being the final play in an Oedipus trilogy, and The Suppliants and Prometheus Bound each being the first play in a Danaid trilogy and Prometheus trilogy, respectively (see below). Scholars have moreover suggested several completely lost trilogies derived from known play titles. A number of these trilogies treated myths surrounding the Trojan War. One, collectively called the Achilleis, comprised the titles Myrmidons, Nereids and Phrygians (alternately, The Ransoming of Hector).

Another trilogy apparently recounts the entry of the Trojan ally Memnon
Memnon (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Memnon was an Ethiopian king and son of Tithonus and Eos. As a warrior he was considered to be almost Achilles' equal in skill. During the Trojan War, he brought an army to Troy's defense. The death of Memnon echoes that of Hector, another defender of Troy whom Achilles also...

 into the war, and his death at the hands of Achilles (
Memnon and The Weighing of Souls being two components of the trilogy); The Award of the Arms, The Phrygian Women, and The Salaminian Women suggest a trilogy about the madness and subsequent suicide of the Greek hero Ajax; Aeschylus also seems to have written about Odysseus
Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

' return to Ithaca after the war (including his killing of his wife Penelope
Penelope
In Homer's Odyssey, Penelope is the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay in his long absence and is eventually reunited with him....

's suitors and its consequences) in a trilogy consisting of
The Soul-raisers, Penelope and The Bone-gatherers. Other suggested trilogies touched on the myth of Jason and the Argonauts (Argô, Lemnian Women, Hypsipylê); the life of Perseus (The Net-draggers, Polydektês, Phorkides); the birth and exploits of Dionysus (Semele, Bacchae, Pentheus); and the aftermath of the war portrayed in Seven against Thebes (Eleusinians, Argives (or Argive Women), Sons of the Seven).

The Persians


The earliest of his plays to survive is
The Persians (Persai), performed in 472 BC and based on experiences in Aeschylus's own life, specifically the Battle of Salamis
Battle of Salamis
The Battle of Salamis was fought between an Alliance of Greek city-states and the Persian Empire in September 480 BCE, in the straits between the mainland and Salamis, an island in the Saronic Gulf near Athens...

. It is unique among surviving Greek tragedies in that it describes a recent historical event.
The Persians focuses on the popular Greek theme of hubris
Hubris
Hubris , also hybris, means extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power....

 by blaming Persia's loss on the pride of its king. It opens with the arrival of a messenger in Susa
Susa
Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers....

, the Persian capital, bearing news of the catastrophic Persian defeat at Salamis to Atossa
Atossa
Atossa was an Achaemenid queen and daughter of Cyrus the Great and his wife, Cassandane...

, the mother of the Persian King Xerxes
Xerxes I of Persia
Xerxes I of Persia , Ḫšayāršā, ), also known as Xerxes the Great, was the fifth king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire.-Youth and rise to power:...

. Atossa then travels to the tomb of Darius, her husband, where his ghost appears to explain the cause of the defeat. It is, he says, the result of Xerxes' hubris in building a bridge across the Hellespont, an action which angered the gods. Xerxes appears at the end of the play, not realizing the cause of his defeat, and the play closes to lamentations by Xerxes and the chorus.

Seven against Thebes


Seven against Thebes (Hepta epi Thebas), which was performed in 467 BC, has the contrasting theme of the interference of the gods in human affairs. It also marks the first known appearance in Aeschylus's work of a theme which would continue through his plays, that of the polis
Polis
Polis , plural poleis , literally means city in Greek. It could also mean citizenship and body of citizens. In modern historiography "polis" is normally used to indicate the ancient Greek city-states, like Classical Athens and its contemporaries, so polis is often translated as "city-state."The...

 (the city) being a key development of human civilization. The play tells the story of Eteocles
Eteocles
In Greek mythology, Eteocles was a king of Thebes, the son of Oedipus and either Jocasta or Euryganeia. The name is from earlier *Etewoklewes , meaning "truly glorious". Tawaglawas is thought to be the Hittite rendition of the name. Oedipus killed his father Laius and married his mother without...

 and Polynices
Polynices
In Greek mythology, Polynices or Polyneices was the son of Oedipus and Jocasta. His wife was Argea. His father, Oedipus, was discovered to have killed his father and married his mother, and was expelled from Thebes, leaving his sons Eteocles and Polynices to rule...

, the sons of the shamed King of Thebes
Thebes, Greece
Thebes is a city in Greece, situated to the north of the Cithaeron range, which divides Boeotia from Attica, and on the southern edge of the Boeotian plain. It played an important role in Greek myth, as the site of the stories of Cadmus, Oedipus, Dionysus and others...

, Oedipus
Oedipus
Oedipus was a mythical Greek king of Thebes. He fulfilled a prophecy that said he would kill his father and marry his mother, and thus brought disaster on his city and family...

. The sons agree to alternate in the throne of the city, but after the first year Eteocles refuses to step down, and Polynices wages war to claim his crown. The brothers kill each other in single combat, and the original ending of the play consisted of lamentations for the dead brothers. A new ending was added to the play some fifty years later: Antigone and Ismene mourn their dead brothers, a messenger enters announcing an edict prohibiting the burial of Polynices; and finally, Antigone declares her intention to defy this edict. The play was the third in a connected Oedipus trilogy; the first two plays were Laius and Oedipus. The concluding satyr play
Satyr play
Satyr plays were an ancient Greek form of tragicomedy, similar in spirit to burlesque. They featured choruses of satyrs, were based on Greek mythology, and were rife with mock drunkenness, brazen sexuality , pranks, sight gags, and general merriment.Satyric drama was one of the three varieties of...

 was
The Sphinx.

The Suppliants


Aeschylus continued his emphasis on the polis with
The Suppliants in 463 BC (Hiketides), which pays tribute to the democratic undercurrents running through Athens in advance of the establishment of a democratic government in 461. In the play, the Danaids, the fifty daughters of Danaus
Danaus
In Greek mythology Danaus, or Danaos , was the twin brother of Aegyptus and son of Achiroe and Belus, a mythical king of Egypt. The myth of Danaus is a foundation legend of Argos, one of the foremost Mycenaean cities of the Peloponnesus...

, founder of Argos
Argos
Argos is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour...

, flee a forced marriage to their cousins in Egypt. They turn to King Pelasgus
Pelasgus
In Greek mythology, Pelasgus was the eponymous ancestor of the Pelasgians, the mythical inhabitants of Greece who established the worship of the Dodonaean Zeus, Hephaestus, the Cabeiri, and other divinities. In the different parts of the country once occupied by Pelasgians, there existed...

 of Argos for protection, but Pelasgus refuses until the people of Argos weigh in on the decision, a distinctly democratic move on the part of the king. The people decide that the Danaids deserve protection, and they are allowed within the walls of Argos despite Egyptian protests. The 1952 publication of Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 2256 fr. 3 confirmed a long-assumed (because of The Suppliants cliffhanger ending) Danaid trilogy, whose constituent plays are generally agreed to be The Suppliants, The Egyptians and The Danaids. A plausible reconstruction of the trilogy's last two-thirds runs thus: In The Egyptians, the Argive-Egyptian war threatened in the first play has transpired. During the course of the war, King Pelasgus has been killed, and Danaus rules Argos. He negotiates a peace settlement with Aegyptus, as a condition of which, his fifty daughters will marry the fifty sons of Aegyptus. Danaus secretly informs his daughters of an oracle predicting that one of his sons-in-law would kill him; he therefore orders the Danaids to murder their husbands on their wedding night. His daughters agree. The Danaids would open the day after the wedding. In short order, it is revealed that forty-nine of the Danaids killed their husbands as ordered; Hypermnestra, however, loved her husband Lynceus, and thus spared his life and helped him to escape. Angered by his daughter's disobedience, Danaus orders her imprisonment and, possibly, her execution. In the trilogy's climax and dénouement, Lynceus reveals himself to Danaus, and kills him (thus fulfilling the oracle). He and Hypermnestra will establish a ruling dynasty in Argos. The other forty-nine Danaids are absolved of their murderous crime, and married off to unspecified Argive men. The satyr play following this trilogy was titled Amymone, after one of the Danaids.

The Oresteia


The only complete (save a few missing lines in several spots) trilogy
Trilogy
A trilogy is a set of three works of art that are connected, and that can be seen either as a single work or as three individual works. They are commonly found in literature, film, or video games...

 of Greek plays by any playwright still extant is the Oresteia (458 BC); although the satyr play that originally followed it, Proteus
Proteus
In Greek mythology, Proteus is an early sea-god, one of several deities whom Homer calls the "Old Man of the Sea", whose name suggests the "first" , as protogonos is the "primordial" or the "firstborn". He became the son of Poseidon in the Olympian theogony In Greek mythology, Proteus (Πρωτεύς)...

, is lost except for some fragments. The trilogy consists of Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers (Choephoroi), and The Eumenides. Together, these plays tell the bloody story of the family of Agamemnon
Agamemnon
In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area...

, King of Argos.

Agamemnon


Agamemnon describes Agamemnon's death at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra
Clytemnestra or Clytaemnestra , in ancient Greek legend, was the wife of Agamemnon, king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Mycenae or Argos. In the Oresteia by Aeschylus, she was a femme fatale who murdered her husband, Agamemnon – said by Euripides to be her second husband – and the Trojan princess...

, who was angry at his sacrifice of their daughter Iphigenia and his keeping of the Trojan prophetess Cassandra
Cassandra
In Greek mythology, Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Her beauty caused Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy...

 as a concubine. Cassandra enters the palace even though she knows she will be murdered by Clytemnestra, knowing that she cannot avoid her fate. The ending of the play includes a prediction of the return of Orestes
Orestes (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Orestes was the son of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon. He is the subject of several Ancient Greek plays and of various myths connected with his madness and purification, which retain obscure threads of much older ones....

, son of Agamemnon, who will seek to avenge his father.

The Libation Bearers


The Libation Bearers continues the tale, opening with Orestes arrival at Agamemnon's tomb. At the tomb, Electra meets Orestes, who has returned from exile in Phocis
Phocis
Phocis is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Central Greece. It stretches from the western mountainsides of Parnassus on the east to the mountain range of Vardousia on the west, upon the Gulf of Corinth...

, and they plan revenge upon Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus
Aegisthus
In Greek mythology, Aegisthus was the son of Thyestes and of Thyestes' daughter, Pelopia....

. Clytemnestra's account of a nightmare in which she gives birth to a snake is recounted by the chorus; and this leads her to order Electra
Electra
In Greek mythology, Electra was an Argive princess and daughter of King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra. She and her brother Orestes plotted revenge against their mother Clytemnestra and stepfather Aegisthus for the murder of their father Agamemnon...

, her daughter, to pour libations on Agamemnon's tomb (with the assistance of libation bearers) in hope of making amends. Orestes enters the palace pretending to bear news of his own death, and when Clytemnestra calls in Aegisthus to share in the news, Orestes kills them both. Orestes is then beset by the Furies
Erinyes
In Greek mythology the Erinyes from Greek ἐρίνειν " pursue, persecute"--sometimes referred to as "infernal goddesses" -- were female chthonic deities of vengeance. A formulaic oath in the Iliad invokes them as "those who beneath the earth punish whosoever has sworn a false oath"...

, who avenge the murders of kin in Greek mythology.

The Eumenides


The final play of
The Oresteia addresses the question of Orestes' guilt. The Furies drive Orestes from Argos and into the wilderness. He makes his way to the temple of Apollo and begs him to drive the Furies away. Apollo had encouraged Orestes to kill Clytemnestra, and so bears some of the guilt for the murder. The Furies are a more ancient race of the gods, and Apollo sends Orestes to the temple of Athena, with Hermes as a guide. The Furies track him down, and the goddess Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

, patron of Athens, steps in and declares that a trial is necessary. Apollo argues Orestes' case and, after the judges, including Athena deliver a tie vote, Athena announces that Orestes is acquitted. She renames the Furies The Eumenides (The Good-spirited, or Kindly Ones), and extols the importance of reason in the development of laws, and, as in The Suppliants, the ideals of a democratic Athens are praised.

Prometheus Bound


In addition to these six works, a seventh tragedy,
Prometheus Bound, is attributed to Aeschylus by ancient authorities. Since the late 19th century, however, scholars have increasingly doubted this ascription, largely on stylistic grounds. Its production date is also in dispute, with theories ranging from the 480s BC to as late as the 410s. The play consists mostly of static dialogue, as throughout the play the Titan
Titan (mythology)
In Greek mythology, the Titans were a race of powerful deities, descendants of Gaia and Uranus, that ruled during the legendary Golden Age....

 Prometheus
Prometheus
In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan, the son of Iapetus and Themis, and brother to Atlas, Epimetheus and Menoetius. He was a champion of mankind, known for his wily intelligence, who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals...

 is bound to a rock as punishment from the Olympian
Twelve Olympians
The Twelve Olympians, also known as the Dodekatheon , in Greek mythology, were the principal deities of the Greek pantheon, residing atop Mount Olympus. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades were siblings. Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Athena, Apollo, and Artemis were children of Zeus...

 Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 for providing fire to humans. The god Hephaestus
Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

, the Titan Oceanus
Oceanus
Oceanus ; , Ōkeanós) was a pseudo-geographical feature in classical antiquity, believed by the ancient Greeks and Romans to be the world-ocean, an enormous river encircling the world....

, and the chorus
Greek chorus
A Greek chorus is a homogenous, non-individualised group of performers in the plays of classical Greece, who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action....

 of Oceanids all express sympathy for Prometheus' plight. Prometheus meets Io
Io (mythology)
Io was, in Greek mythology, a priestess of Hera in Argos, a nymph who was seduced by Zeus, who changed her into a heifer to escape detection. His wife Hera set ever-watchful Argus Panoptes to guard her, but Hermes was sent to distract the guardian and slay him...

, a fellow victim of Zeus' cruelty; and prophesies her future travels, revealing that one of her descendants will free Prometheus. The play closes with Zeus sending Prometheus into the abyss because Prometheus refuses to divulge the secret of a potential marriage that could be Zeus' downfall. The Prometheus Bound appears to have been the first play in a trilogy called the Prometheia
Prometheia
The Prometheia is a trilogy of plays about the titan Prometheus. It was attributed in Antiquity to the 5th-century BC Greek tragedian Aeschylus...

. In the second play, Prometheus Unbound
Prometheus Unbound (Aeschylus)
Prometheus Unbound is a play by the Greek poet Aeschylus, concerned with the torments of the Greek mythological figure Prometheus and his suffering at the hands of Zeus...

, Heracles frees Prometheus from his chains and kills the eagle that had been sent daily to eat Prometheus' perpetually regenerating liver. Perhaps foreshadowing his eventual reconciliation with Prometheus, we learn that Zeus has released the other Titans whom he imprisoned at the conclusion of the Titanomachy
Titanomachy
In Greek mythology, the Titanomachy or War of the Titans , was the ten-year series of battles fought in Thessaly between the two camps of deities long before the existence of mankind: the Titans, based on Mount Othrys, and the Olympians, who would come to reign on Mount Olympus...

. In the trilogy's conclusion,
Prometheus the Fire-Bringer, it appears that the Titan finally warns Zeus not to sleep with the sea nymph Thetis
Thetis
Silver-footed Thetis , disposer or "placer" , is encountered in Greek mythology mostly as a sea nymph or known as the goddess of water, one of the fifty Nereids, daughters of the ancient one of the seas with shape-shifting abilities who survives in the historical vestiges of most later Greek myths...

, for she is fated to give birth to a son greater than the father. Not wishing to be overthrown, Zeus marries Thetis off to the mortal Peleus; the product of that union is Achilles, Greek hero of the Trojan War. After reconciling with Prometheus, Zeus probably inaugurates a festival in his honor at Athens.

Lost Plays


Only the titles and assorted fragments of Aeschylus's other plays have come down to us. We have enough fragments of some plays (along with comments made by later authors and scholiasts) to produce rough synopses of their plots.

Myrmidons


This play was based on books 9 and 16 in Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

. Achilles sits in silent indignation over his humiliation at Agamemnon's hands for most of the play. Envoys from the Greek army attempt to reconcile him to Agamemnon
Agamemnon
In Greek mythology, Agamemnon was the son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra, and the father of Electra and Orestes. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area...

, but he yields only to his friend and lover Patroclus
Patroclus
In Greek mythology, as recorded in the Iliad by Homer, Patroclus, or Patroklos , was the son of Menoetius, grandson of Actor, King of Opus, and was Achilles' beloved comrade and brother-in-arms....

, who then battles the Trojans in Achilles' armour. The bravery and death of Patroclus are reported in a messenger's speech, which is followed by mourning.

Nereids


This play was based on books 18, 19, and 22 of the Iliad, follows the Daughters of Nereus, the sea god, lament Patroclus' death. In this play a messenger tells how Achilles, perhaps reconciled to Agamemon and the Greeks, slew Hector
Hector
In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

.

Phrygians, or Hector's Ransom


In this play, Achilles sits in silent mourning over Patroclus, after a brief discussion with Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

. Hermes then brings in King Priam of Troy
Priam
Priam was the king of Troy during the Trojan War and youngest son of Laomedon. Modern scholars derive his name from the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous".- Marriage and issue :...

, who wins over Achilles and ransoms his son's body in a spectacular coup de théâtre. A scale is brought on stage and Hector's body is placed in one scale and gold in the other. The dynamic dancing of the chorus of Trojans when they enter with Priam is reported by Aristophanes
Aristophanes
Aristophanes , son of Philippus, of the deme Cydathenaus, was a comic playwright of ancient Athens. Eleven of his forty plays survive virtually complete...

.

Niobe


The children of Niobe, the heroine, have been slain by Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 and Artemis
Artemis
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

 because Niobe
Niobe
Niobe was a daughter of Tantalus and of either Dione, the most frequently cited, or of Eurythemista or Euryanassa, and she was the sister of Pelops and Broteas, all of whom figure in Greek mythology....

 had gloated that she had more children than their mother, Leto
Leto
In Greek mythology, Leto is a daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe. The island of Kos is claimed as her birthplace. In the Olympian scheme, Zeus is the father of her twins, Apollo and Artemis, the Letoides, which Leto conceived after her hidden beauty accidentally caught the eyes of Zeus...

. Niobe sits in silent mourning on stage during most of the play. In the Republic, Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 quotes the line "God plants a fault in mortals when he wills to destroy a house utterly." immoral.
These are the remaining plays of Aeschylus which are known to us:
    • Alcmene
    • Amymone
    • The Archer-Women
    • The Argivian Women
    • The Argo, or The Rowers
    • Atalanta
    • Athamas
    • Attendants of the Bridal Chamber
    • Award of the Arms
    • The Bacchae
    • The Bassarae
    • The Bone-Gatherers
    • The Cabeiroi
    • Callisto
    • The Carians, or Europa
    • Cercyon
    • Children of Hercules
    • Circe
    • The Cretan Women
  • Cycnus
  • The Danaids
  • Daughters of Helios
  • Daughters of Phorcys
  • The Descendants (of the Seven)
  • The Edonians
  • The Egyptians
  • The Escorts
  • Glaucus of Pontus
  • Glaucus of Potniae
  • Hypsipyle
  • Iphigenia
  • Ixion
  • Laius
  • The Lemnian Women
  • The Lion
  • Lycurgus
  • Memnon
  • The Men of Eleusis
  • The Messengers
  • The Myrmidons
  • The Mysians
  • Nemea
  • The Net-Draggers
  • The Nurses of Dionysus
  • Oedipus
  • Orethyia
  • Palamedes
  • Penelope
  • Pentheus
  • Perrhaibides
  • Philoctetes
  • Phineus
  • The Phrygian Women
  • Polydectes
  • The Priestesses
  • Prometheus the Fire-Bearer
  • Prometheus the Fire-Kindler
  • Prometheus Unbound
  • Proteus
  • Semele, or The Water-Bearers
  • Sisyphus the Runaway
  • Sisyphus the Stone-Roller
  • The Spectators, or Athletes of the Isthmian Games
  • The Sphinx
  • The Spirit-Raisers
  • Telephus
  • The Thracian Women
  • Weighing of Souls
  • Women of Aetna (two versions)
  • Women of Salamis
  • Xantriae
  • The Youths

  • Influence on Greek drama and culture


    When Aeschylus first began writing, the theatre had only just begun to evolve, although earlier playwrights like Thespis
    Thespis
    Thespis of Icaria , according to certain Ancient Greek sources and especially Aristotle, was the first person ever to appear on stage as an actor playing a character in a play...

     had already expanded the cast to include an actor who was able to interact with the chorus
    Greek chorus
    A Greek chorus is a homogenous, non-individualised group of performers in the plays of classical Greece, who comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action....

    . Aeschylus added a second actor, allowing for greater dramatic variety, while the chorus played a less important role. He is sometimes credited with introducing skenographia, or scene-decoration, though Aristotle gives this distinction to Sophocles. Aeschylus is also said to have made the costumes more elaborate and dramatic, and having his actors wear platform boots (cothurni) to make them more visible to the audience. According to a later account of Aeschylus's life, as they walked on stage in the first performance of the Eumenides, the chorus of Furies were so frightening in appearance that they caused young children to faint, patriarchs to urinate, and pregnant women to go into labour.

    His plays were written in verse, no violence is performed on stage, and the plays have a remoteness from daily life in Athens, either by relating stories about the gods or by being set, like The Persians, in far-away locales. Aeschylus's work has a strong moral and religious emphasis. The Oresteia trilogy concentrated on man's position in the cosmos in relation to the gods, divine law, and divine punishment. Aeschylus's popularity is evident in the praise the comic playwright Aristophanes
    Aristophanes
    Aristophanes , son of Philippus, of the deme Cydathenaus, was a comic playwright of ancient Athens. Eleven of his forty plays survive virtually complete...

     gives him in The Frogs
    The Frogs
    The Frogs is a comedy written by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. It was performed at the Lenaia, one of the Festivals of Dionysus, in 405 BC, and received first place.-Plot:...

    , produced some half-century after Aeschylus's death. Appearing as a character in the play, Aeschylus claims at line 1022 that his Seven against Thebes "made everyone watching it to love being warlike"; with his Persians, Aeschylus claims at lines 1026-7 that he "taught the Athenians to desire always to defeat their enemies." Aeschylus goes on to say at lines 1039ff. that his plays inspired the Athenians to be brave and virtuous.

    Influence outside of Greek Culture


    Aeschylus's works were influential beyond his own time. Hugh Lloyd-Jones
    Hugh Lloyd-Jones
    Sir Peter Hugh Jefferd Lloyd-Jones FBA was a British classical scholar and Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford....

     (Regius Professor of Greek
    Regius Professor of Greek (Oxford)
    The Regius Professorship of Greek is a professorship at the University of Oxford in England.Henry VIII founded the chair by 1541. He established five Regius Professorships in the University , the others being the Regius chairs of Divinity, Medicine, Civil Law and Hebrew.-List of holders:* John...

     Emeritus at Oxford University) draws attention to Wagner's reverence of Aeschylus. Michael Ewans argues in his Wagner and Aeschylus. The Ring and the Oresteia (London: Faber. 1982) that the influence was so great as to merit a direct character by character comparison between Wagner's Ring and Aeschylus's Oresteia. A critic of his book however, while not denying that Wagner read and respected Aeschylus, has described his arguments as unreasonable and forced.

    Sir J. T. Sheppard argues in the second half of his Aeschylus and Sophocles: Their Work and Influence that Aeschylus, along with Sophocles
    Sophocles
    Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

    , have played a major part in the formation of dramatic literature from the Renaissance
    Renaissance
    The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

     to the present, specifically in French and Elizabethan drama. He also claims that their influence went beyond just drama and applies to literature in general, citing Milton and the Romantics.
    During his presidential campaign in 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy
    Robert F. Kennedy
    Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy , also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism and member of the Kennedy family, he was a younger brother of President John F...

     quoted the Edith Hamilton
    Edith Hamilton
    Edith Hamilton was an American educator and author who was "recognized as the greatest woman Classicist". She was sixty-two years old when The Greek Way, her first book, was published in 1930...

     translation of Aeschylus on the night of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

     Kennedy was notified of King's murder before a campaign stop in Indianapolis, Indiana and was warned not to attend the event due to fears of rioting from the mostly African-American crowd. Kennedy insisted on attending and delivered an impromptu speech
    Robert F. Kennedy's speech on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
    A speech on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. was given by New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy on April 4, 1968, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Kennedy was campaigning for the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination...

     that delivered news of King's death to the crowd. Acknowledging the audience's emotions, Kennedy referred to his own grief at the murder of his brother, President John F. Kennedy
    John F. Kennedy
    John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

     and, quoting a passage from the play Agamemnon, said: "My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: 'Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.' What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black... Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world." The speech is considered to be Kennedy's finest. The quotation from Aeschylus was later inscribed on a memorial at the gravesite of Robert Kennedy following his own assassination.

    See also

    • Asteroid 2876 Aeschylus
      2876 Aeschylus
      2876 Aeschylus is a small main belt asteroid, which was discovered at Palomar Observatory by Cornelis Johannes van Houten, Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld and Tom Gehrels on 24 September 1960. It is named after Aeschylus, the ancient Greek tragic dramatist....

      , which is named for him
    • Theatre of ancient Greece
      Theatre of Ancient Greece
      The theatre of Ancient Greece, or ancient Greek drama, is a theatrical culture that flourished in ancient Greece between c. 550 and c. 220 BC. The city-state of Athens, which became a significant cultural, political and military power during this period, was its centre, where it was...

    • List of unusual deaths

    Editions

    • Martin L. West
      Martin Litchfield West
      Martin Litchfield West is an internationally recognised scholar in classics, classical antiquity and philology...

      , Aeschyli Tragoediae: cum incerti poetae Prometheo 2 ed. (1998). The first translation of the seven plays into English was by Robert Potter in 1779, using blank verse for the iambic trimeters and rhymed verse for the choruses, a convention adopted by most translators for the next century.
    • Stefan Radt (Hg.), Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta. Vol. III: Aeschylus (Göttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009) (Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta, 3).

    External links