Aeschylus (525/4 - 456 BC)

Michael Lahanas

Αισχύλος

Griechische Literatur: Aischylos

Αισχύλον Ευφορίωνος Αθηναίον τόδε κεύθει μνήμα καταφθίμενον πυροφόροιο Γέλας άλκην δ' ευδόκιμον Μαραθωνιον άλσος αν είποι και βαθυχαιτήεις Μήδος επιστάμενος. Aeschylus son of Euphorion the Athenian this monument hides, who died in wheat-bearing Gela; but of his approved valour the Marathonian grove may tell, and the deep-haired Mede who knew. Aeschylus, his own written words for his epitaph

The 'Father of Tragedy,' Aeschylus (Αισχύλος) was born in 524 or 525 BC in the city of Eleusis. Together with Sophocles and Euripides, Aeschylus is one of the best-known Athenian tragic poets. In his plays, he addresses complex theological problems. For example, in the trilogy Agamemnon - Choephoroi - Eumenides, he describes how the gods punish a family for a series of murders. The Persians is a superb play, in which the Athenian victory at Salamis (480) is celebrated, written seven years after the event. Aeschylus was highly esteemed; fifty years after his death, the comic poet Aristophanes wrote a play, The Frogs, in which Aeschylus and Euripides are presented as the greatest playwrights.


Aeschylus first introduced a second actor; he diminished the importance of the Chorus, and assigned the leading part to the dialogue. Aristotle Poetics


He reduced the chorus in size, lessening its importance in favor of dramatic dialogue. The chorus assumed a secondary role, commenting, warning or setting the mood for the action of the play which was now carried by the actors. Of the 90 or so plays (we known around 80 titles) Aeschylus wrote, only seven have survived in complete form, among them the 'Oresteia' trilogy, 'The Seven against Thebes' and 'Prometheus Bound'. Probably his masterpiece and the only survived trilogy. Agamemnon sacrifices Iphigenia in order to calm Artemis, he is killed by his wife Clytemnestra later and his son Orestes kills for this reason his mother and her lover Aegisthus.

From a German Journal. An Audience in Athens During Agamemnon by Aeschylus, Sir William Blake Richmond 1884, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery/Bridgeman Art Library. The priest of Dionysus sits in a special throne in the middle of the front row of the theater. More details about the Painting


Aeschylus himself did not care about his fame: he wanted to be remembered not for his tragedies, but for the fact that he had fought at Marathon in 490 BC together with his brother Cynegerirus (another borther was Ameinias). He also participate at the Salamis battle 480 BC with Ameinias and probably also in Plataea one year later. In 468 BC Sophocles appears as a serious opponent and seems to be a reason of Aeschylus anger as Sophocles becomes a winner in a contest. He lives Athens goes probably to Syracuse to the tyrant Hiero. He was charged with "impiety" for revealing the Eleusinian mysteries—secret rites to some outsiders.

Gypaetus barbatus

Legend has it that Aeschylus met his death when a Gypaetus barbatus mistook his bald head for a rock and dropped a tortoise on it. He dies in Gela (c. 456 BC) in one of his trips to Sicily and a monument is build there in his memory. Aeschylus had two sons, Euaion and Euphorion.

Work Survived


Αγαμέμνων

Agamemnon

Πέρσαι

Persians

Ικέτιδες

Suppliant Maidens

ΕπτάεπίΘήβα

Seven against Thebes

Ευμενίδες

Eumenides

Προμηθεύς&Dεσμώτης

Premetheus Bound

Χοηφόροι

Libation Bearers

Achilles parts of a trilogy discovered in the 1990s

Works known from fragments or lost

Aigyptioi (463 BC)
Aitnaiai (Die Ätnäerinnen)
Amymone (Satyrspiel, 463 BC.)
Argeioi
Argo
Athamas
Bacchai
Bassarai
Danaides (463 BC.)
Diktyoulkoi (Satyr Play)
Edonoi
Eleusinioi
Epigonoi
Glaukos Pontios
Glaukos Potnieus (472 BC)
Heliades
Herakleidai
Hiereiai
Iphigeneia
Ixion
Kabeiroi
Kares / Europe
Kressai
Laios (467 BC)
Leon
Lykourgeia
Lykourgos
Memnon
Myrmidones
Mysoi (Die Nyser)
Neaniskoi
Nemea
Nereides
Niobe
Oidipous (467 BC.)
Oplon Krisis
Oreithyia
Ostologoi
Palamedes
Pentheus
Perraibides
Penelope
Philoctetes
Phineus (472 BC.)
Phorkides
Phryges / Hektoros Lytra
Prometheus Lyomenos
Prometheus Pyrkaios (472 BC)
Prometheus Pyrphoros
Proteus (458 BC)
Psychagogoi
Psychostasia
Salaminiai
Semele / Hydrophoroi
Sisyphos Drapetes
Sisyphos Petrokylistes
Sphinx (467 BC)
Telephos
Theoroi / Isthmiastai
Threissai
Toxotides
Trophoi
Xantriai

Perseus Lookup Text

Agamemnon , Eumenides , Libation Bearers (Choephoroi) Oresteia Trilogy
Prometheus Bound (Prometheus Desmotes probably a Trilogy Prometheus Unbound and Prometheus the Fire-Bringer)
Suppliant Maidens ( Iketides probably also a Trilogy The Egyptians and The Danaids)
Persians
Seven Against Thebes


Files

Agamemnon - ChoephoroiEumenides (Oresteia Trilogy, Information )
The suppliants (Earliest known play), Information about the play
The seven against Thebes , Enjoying "The Seven Against Thebes" , More Information about the play
Prometheus Bound , Enjoying "Prometheus Bound" , More Information about the play
The Persians , Information


Interesting events

1. November 1903 in Greece. The work Oresteia of Aeschylus is played in demotic Greek translation. Many conservatives are against the use of demotic, in a violent demostration two persons are killed and seven wounded.


LINKS

Prometheus Bound of Aeschylus in Greek by F. D. Allen (PDF)
Agamemnon (PDF)

Agamemnon: Discussion of the themes and plot

Information about Clytemnestra and Iphigenia

Aeschylus forever lost and The renown of Aeschylus after his death by Victor Hugo

Young Men of Sidon (400 B.C.) by C. P. Cavafy

Iketides by Aishylos, Delphic rites 1930

http://www.geocities.com/athens/parthenon/6670/gallery/img027b.jpg

Watching a drama performance in an ancient Greek theatre


MODERN GREEK Translations

Choephoroi

The Persians

Eumenides

Quotations

Aeschylus himself said that when a youth he slept while watching grapes in a field, and that Dionysus appeared and bade him write tragedy. When day came, in obedience to the vision, he made an attempt and hereafter found composing quite easy. Such were his words. Pausanias Description of Greece, Book I, Attica


Ώ παίδες Ελλήνων, ίτε ελευθερούτε πατρίδ' ελευθερούτε δε παίδας, γυναίκας, θεών τε πατρώων έδη,θήκας τε προγόνων νυν υπέρ πάντων αγών Aeschylus The Persians, “Forward, sons of the Greeks, liberate the fatherland, liberate your children, your women, the temples of your ancestral gods, the graves of your forebears: this is the battle for everything".."


...στάζει δ' ἀνθ' ὕπνου πρὸ καρδίας μνησιπήμων πόνος· καὶ παρ' ἄκοντας ἦλθε σωφρονεῖν. δαιμόνων δέ που χάρις βίαιος σέλμα σεμνὸν ἡμένων Aeschylus, Agamemnon ... My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: "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. ...Senator Robert F. Kennedy , Statement on the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Indianapolis, Indiana 4th April 1968 ( See also http://morec.com/rfk.htm for information about the Kennedy version of the translation of the lines 179-183 of Agamemnon.)


Images

Aeschylus, Dictyulci: Second century AD

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