• Aeschylus appears as a character in the play and claims, at line 1022, that his Seven against Thebes “made everyone watching it to love being warlike”.

  • Before writing his[clarification needed] acclaimed trilogy, O’Neill had been developing a play about Aeschylus, and he noted that Aeschylus “so changed the system of the tragic
    stage that he has more claim than anyone else to be regarded as the founder (Father) of Tragedy.

  • The plays have a remoteness from daily life in Athens, relating stories about the gods, or being set, like The Persians, far away.

  • [10] Some scholars argue that the date of Aeschylus’s birth may be based on counting back 40 years from his first victory in the Great Dionysia.

  • The satyr play Proteus, which followed the Oresteia, treated the story of Menelaus’ detour in Egypt on his way home from the Trojan War.

  • [25] Pliny, in his Naturalis Historiæ, adds that Aeschylus had been staying outdoors to avoid a prophecy that he would be killed by a falling object,[25][26] but this story
    may be legendary and due to a misunderstanding of the iconography on Aeschylus’ tomb.

  • There is a long-standing debate regarding the authorship of one of them, Prometheus Bound, with some scholars arguing that it may be the work of his son Euphorion.

  • [12] As soon as he woke, he began to write a tragedy, and his first performance took place in 499 BC, when he was 26 years old.

  • [32][clarification needed] Another theme, with which Aeschylus’ would continually involve himself, makes its first known appearance in this play, namely that the polis was
    a key development of human civilization.

  • With the exception of this last play – the success of which is uncertain – all of Aeschylus’s extant tragedies are known to have won first prize at the City Dionysia.

  • “[16] These are the remaining 71 plays ascribed to Aeschylus which are known:[citation needed] Influence Influence on Greek drama and culture[edit] Mosaic of Orestes, main
    character in Aeschylus’s only surviving trilogy The Oresteia The theatre was just beginning to evolve when Aeschylus started writing for it.

  • Scholars have also suggested several completely lost trilogies, based on known play titles.

  • [clarification needed][citation needed] According to a later account of Aeschylus’ life, the chorus of Furies in the first performance of the Eumenides were so frightening
    when they entered that children fainted and patriarchs urinated and pregnant women went into labour.

  • [3][4] Academic knowledge of the genre begins with his work,[5] and understanding of earlier Greek tragedy is largely based on inferences made from reading his surviving plays.

  • 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.

  • Dark foreshadowings build to the death of the king at the hands of his wife, who was angry that their daughter Iphigenia was killed so that the gods would restore the winds
    and allow the Greek fleet to sail to Troy.

  • His father, Euphorion, was said to be a member of the Eupatridae, the ancient nobility of Attica,[12][13] but this might be a fiction invented by the ancients to account for
    the grandeur of Aeschylus’ plays.

  • [16] Personal life Aeschylus married and had two sons, Euphorion and Euaeon, both of whom became tragic poets.

  • A plausible reconstruction of the trilogy’s last two-thirds runs thus:[38] In The Egyptians, the Argive-Egyptian war threatened in the first play has transpired.

  • [16] The Persian Wars played a large role in Aeschylus’ life and career.

  • [8] At least one of his plays was influenced by the Persians’ second invasion of Greece (480–479 BC).

  • Sheppard argues in the second half of his Aeschylus and Sophocles: Their Work and Influence that Aeschylus and Sophocles have played a major part in the formation of dramatic
    literature from the Renaissance to the present, specifically in French and Elizabethan drama.

  • [39] The Oresteia (458 BC)[edit] Main article: Oresteia Besides a few missing lines, the Oresteia of 458 BC is the only complete trilogy of Greek plays by any playwright still
    extant (of Proteus, the satyr play which followed, only fragments are known).

  • [52][53] Acknowledging the audience’s emotions, Kennedy referred to his own grief at the murder of Martin Luther King and, quoting a passage from the play Agamemnon (in translation),
    said: “My favorite poet was Aeschylus.

  • This work, The Persians, is one of very few classical Greek tragedies concerned with contemporary events, and the only one extant.

  • [28] The first competition Aeschylus would have participated in involved three playwrights each presenting three tragedies and one satyr play.

  • The Alexandrian Life of Aeschylus claims that he won the first prize at the City Dionysia thirteen times.

  • Aeschylus seems to have written about Odysseus’ return to Ithaca after the war (including his killing of his wife Penelope’s suitors and its consequences) in a trilogy consisting
    of The Soul-raisers, Penelope, and The Bone-gatherers.

  • It is assumed, based on the evidence provided by a catalogue of Aeschylean play titles, scholia, and play fragments recorded by later authors, that three other extant plays
    of his were components of connected trilogies: Seven Against Thebes was the final play in an Oedipus trilogy, and The Suppliants and Prometheus Bound were each the first play in a Danaid trilogy and Prometheus trilogy, respectively.

  • Another trilogy apparently recounted the entrance of the Trojan ally Memnon into the war, and his death at the hands of Achilles (Memnon and The Weighing of Souls being two
    components of the trilogy).

  • [6] According to Aristotle, he expanded the number of characters in the theatre and allowed conflict among them.

  • [50] Eugene O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra (1931), a trilogy of three plays set in America after the Civil War, is modeled after the Oresteia.

  • According to the 2nd-century AD author Aelian, Aeschylus’ younger brother Ameinias helped to acquit Aeschylus by showing the jury the stump of the hand he had lost at Salamis,
    where he was voted bravest warrior.

  • The satyr play following this trilogy was titled Amymone, after one of the Danaids.

  • [14] As a youth, Aeschylus worked at a vineyard until, according to the 2nd-century AD geographer Pausanias, the god Dionysus visited him in his sleep and commanded him to
    turn his attention to the nascent art of tragedy.

  • The ending of the play includes a prediction of the return of Orestes, son of Agamemnon, who will seek to avenge his father.

  • [9] The significance of the war with Persia was so great to Aeschylus and the Greeks that his epitaph commemorates his participation in the Greek victory at Marathon while
    making no mention of his success as a playwright.

  • The pair kill each other in single combat, and the original ending of the play consisted of lamentations for the dead brothers.

  • Influence outside Greek culture[edit] Aeschylus’ works were influential beyond his own time.

  • [10] The inscription on Aeschylus’ gravestone makes no mention of his theatrical renown, commemorating only his military achievements: 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.

  • [33] Prometheus Bound seems to have been the first play in a trilogy, the Prometheia.

  • 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 and lawlessness; but
    is 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 whether 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.”

  • [clarification needed] The Titan Prometheus is bound to a rock throughout, which is his punishment from the Olympian Zeus for providing fire to humans.

  • He prophesies her future travels, revealing that one of her descendants will free Prometheus.

  • [10] 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.

  • [clarification needed] He also claims that their influence went beyond just drama and applies to literature in general, citing Milton and the Romantics.

  • [7] He was likely the first dramatist to present plays as a trilogy.

  • [35] But 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 Antigone declares her intention to defy this edict.

  • [32] It is unique among surviving Greek tragedies in that it describes a recent historical event.

  • [29] Aeschylus added a second actor, allowing for greater dramatic variety, while the chorus played a less important role.

  • [27] Aeschylus’ work was so respected by the Athenians that after his death his tragedies were the only ones allowed to be restaged in subsequent competitions.

  • [18] Aeschylus was one of many Greeks who were initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries, an ancient cult of Demeter based in his home town of Eleusis.

  • [16] Salamis holds a prominent place in The Persians, his oldest surviving play, which was performed in 472 BC and won first prize at the Dionysia.

  • [10][16] In 480 BC, Aeschylus was called into military service again, together with his younger brother Ameinias, against Xerxes I’s invading forces at the Battle of Salamis.

  • The satyr plays that followed his tragic trilogies also drew from myth.

  • He produced The Women of Aetna during one of these trips (in honor of the city founded by Hieron), and restaged his Persians.

  • 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.

  • 1982) that the influence was so great as to merit a direct character by character comparison between Wagner’s Ring and Aeschylus’s Oresteia.

  • [22] A nephew of Aeschylus, Philocles (his sister’s son), was also a tragic poet, and won first prize in the competition against Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex.


Works Cited

[‘• The remnant of a commemorative inscription, dated to the 3rd century BC, lists four, possibly eight, dramatic poets (probably including Choerilus, Phrynichus, and Pratinas) who had won tragic victories at the Dionysia before Aeschylus had. Thespis
was traditionally regarded the inventor of tragedy. According to another tradition, tragedy was established in Athens in the late 530s BC, but that may simply reflect an absence of records. Major innovations in dramatic form, credited to Aeschylus
by Aristotle and the anonymous source The Life of Aeschylus, may be exaggerations and should be viewed with caution (Martin Cropp (2006), “Lost Tragedies: A Survey” in A Companion to Greek Tragedy, pp. 272–74)
o Jones, Daniel; Roach, Peter, James
Hartman and Jane Setter, eds. Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary. 17th edition. Cambridge UP, 2006.
o ^ “Aeschylus”. Webster’s New World College Dictionary.
o ^ Jump up to:a b c Freeman 1999, p. 243
o ^ Schlegel, August Wilhelm von (December
2004). Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature. p. 121.
o ^ R. Lattimore, Aeschylus I: Oresteia, 4
o ^ Martin Cropp, ‘Lost Tragedies: A Survey’; A Companion to Greek Tragedy, p. 273
o ^ P. Levi, Greek Drama, 159
o ^ S. Saïd, Aeschylean Tragedy,
o ^ S. Saïd, Aeschylean Tragedy, 221
o ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j Sommerstein 2010.
o ^ Grene, David, and Richmond Lattimore, eds. The Complete Greek Tragedies: Vol. 1, Aeschylus. University of Chicago Press, 1959.
o ^ Jump up to:a
b c d Bates 1906, pp. 53–59
o ^ Jump up to:a b Sidgwick 1911, p. 272
o ^ S. Saïd, Eschylean tragedy, 217
o ^ Jump up to:a b c Freeman 1999, p. 241
o ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j Kopff 1997 pp. 1–472
o ^ “§ 4”. Anonymous Life of Aeschylus.
Living Poets. Translated by S. Burges Watson. Durham. 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2023. They say that he was noble and that he participated in the battle of Marathon together with his brother, Cynegirus, and in the naval battle at Salamis with the
youngest of his brothers, Ameinias, and in the infantry battle at Plataea. (emphasis in original)
o ^ Sommerstein 2010, p. 34
o ^ Martin 2000, §10.1
o ^ Nicomachean Ethics 1111a8–10.
o ^ Filonik, J. (2013). Athenian impiety trials: a reappraisal.
Dike-Rivista di Storia del Diritto Greco ed Ellenistico, 16, page 23.
o ^ Osborn, K.; Burges, D. (1998). The complete idiot’s guide to classical mythology. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-02-862385-6.
o ^ Smith 2005, p. 1
o ^ Ursula Hoff (1938). “Meditation
in Solitude”. Journal of the Warburg Institute. 1 (44): 292–294. doi:10.2307/749994. JSTOR 749994. S2CID 192234608.
o ^ Jump up to:a b J. C. McKeown (2013), A Cabinet of Greek Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from the Cradle of Western
Civilization, Oxford University Press, p. 136, ISBN 978-0-19-998210-3, The unusual nature of Aeschylus’ death …
o ^ Pliny the Elder. “Book X, Chapter 3”. The Natural History. This eagle has the instinct to break the shell of the tortoise by letting
it fall from aloft, a circumstance which caused the death of the poet Æschylus. An oracle, it is said, had predicted his death on that day by the fall of a house, upon which he took the precaution of trusting himself only under the canopy of the heavens.
o ^
Critchley 2009
o ^ Jump up to:a b c Freeman 1999, p. 242
o ^ Jump up to:a b c Pomeroy 1999, p. 222
o ^ Sommerstein 2010
o ^ Sommerstein 2010, p. 34.
o ^ Jump up to:a b c d Freeman 1999, p. 244
o ^ Jump up to:a b Vellacott: 7–19
o ^ Jump
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o ^ Jump up to:a b Aeschylus. “Prometheus Bound, The Suppliants, Seven Against Thebes, The Persians.” Philip Vellacott’s Introduction, pp. 7–19. Penguin Classics.
o ^ Sommerstein 2002, 23.
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to:a b c Freeman 1999, p. 246
o ^ See (e.g.) Sommerstein 1996, 141–51; Turner 2001, 36–39.
o ^ Jump up to:a b Sommerstein 2002, 89.
o ^ Griffith 1983, pp. 32–34
o ^ For example: Agamemnon 432 “Many things pierce the liver”; 791–2 “No sting
of true sorrow reaches the liver”; Eumenides 135 “Sting your liver with merited reproaches”.
o ^ Jump up to:a b For a discussion of the trilogy’s reconstruction, see (e.g.) Conacher 1980, 100–02.
o ^ According to Vitruvius. See Summers 2007,
o ^ Performance in Greek and Roman theatre. George William Mallory Harrison, Vaios Liapēs. Leiden: Brill. 2013. p. 111. ISBN 978-90-04-24545-7. OCLC 830001324.
o ^ Life of Aeschylus.
o ^ Jump up to:a b Pomeroy 1999, p. 223
o ^ Pomeroy
1999, pp. 224–25
o ^ Jump up to:a b Scharffenberger, Elizabeth W. (2007). “”Deinon Eribremetas”: The Sound and Sense of Aeschylus in Aristophanes’ “Frogs””. The Classical World. 100 (3): 229–249. ISSN 0009-8418. JSTOR 25434023.
o ^ Furness, Raymond
(January 1984). “Reviewed work: Wagner and Aeschylus. The ‘Ring’ and the ‘Oresteia’, Michael Ewans”. The Modern Language Review. 79 (1): 239–40. doi:10.2307/3730399. JSTOR 3730399.
o ^ Sheppard, J. T. (1927). “Aeschylus and Sophocles: their
Work and Influence”. The Journal of Hellenic Studies. 47 (2): 265. doi:10.2307/625177. JSTOR 625177.
o ^ Floyd, Virginia, ed. Eugene O’Neill at Work. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1981, p. 213. ISBN 0-8044-2205-2
o ^ Jump up to:a b “Virginia – Arlington
National Cemetery: Robert F. Kennedy Gravesite”. 7 June 2009.
o ^ “Robert Kennedy: Delivering News of King’s Death”. National Public Radio. 4 April 2008. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
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