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Ten years AESCHYLUS | 651 AESCHYLUSlegal glowinini mustered and again Greek ford Ten years later, Darius's son Xerxes ars), and the three plays of the Orest- Hi bile reurg Ishtelb sdo mica, 524-456 B.C.E.dialog mustered the Persian forces again, eid: Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, and eral Leoni men, were and again invaded Attica, On land, the Eumenides. woddorf doguA routine lae. But by Greek forces, led by the Spartan gen- Aristophanes' comedy Frogs, which plothidin of the Athen eral Leonidas and his three hundred was first performed in 405 B.C.E.-some men, were slaughtered at Thermopy- fifty years after Aeschylus's death eschylus is the earliest Greek the most powerful community in the ing Aeschy contemporary Mediterranean world. sinking hu lae. But by sea, in the bay of Salamis, provides our most vivid evidence for the he A dramatist whose work survives. When Aeschylus was born, Athens the Athenian navy-probably include tragedian's contemporary reputation. destroying His plays represent the first stage in his father ing Aeschylus won a decisive victory, The play features a competition, set in the long history of later Western was not yet a democratic state. From 541 ns mis was a sinking hundreds of Persian ships and Hades (since both competitors are drama. But Aeschylean tragedy is by to 510, the city was under one-man rule, of Athens destroying Xerxes's hope of expanding dead), between Aeschylus and Eurip- no means primitive or simple. Aeschy- dominated by a "tyrant" (a single, power- us was a dramatic innovator: his most ful ruler; the word in Greek does not history of his father's empire. The battle of Sala- ides, to decide who is the poet most mis was a turning point in the history likely to save the city in times of war. important invention was the introduc- necessarily carry negative connotations), this victor of Athens, and arguably in the whole Aeschylus's style is presented as heavy, tion of the second actor, which cre- In 510 B.C.E., after the last tyrant was eigninva: dignified, nonnaturalistic, and full of ated the possibility of conflict between ousted from power, Athens became one history of later Western culture. After the domin individuals (rather than simply between of the world's first democracies. From this victory, Athens was free from for- Mediterra strange or archaic turns of phrase, a single actor and the group of the this time onward, the city was governed eigninvasion and eventually became which may be all but incomprehensible. A few ye chorus). This essential move caused by a fifty-member council, which was the dominant power in the Greek and At the same time, he inspires his audi- Aeschylus him to be called the *creator of tragedy." elected by the votes of all citizens. The Mediterranean worlds. ences to feel proud of and fight for their our earlier His language, imagery, and stagecraft majority of the population including A few years after Salamis, in 472 B.C.E., city: anybody witnessing Persians, are highly sophisticated, his charac- women, slaves, and resident foreigners sians focus Aeschylus produced Persians, which is boasts Aeschylus, would be "smitten ters are complex and compelling, and were not citizens and did not get a vote. told from our earliest surviving Greek tragedy. Per- with longing for victory over the enemy." his work invites deep meditation on But the shift from tyranny to the new evokes th sians focuses on the battle of Salamis, but But it would be a mistake to see Aeschy- relationships between myth and his political system of democracy, which army, his told from the Persian point of view: it lus as a simple propagandist. He draws tory, men and women, justice and suf- took place when Aeschylus was around result of evokes the devastation of Xerxes, his our attention to deep-rooted moral, fering, language and meaning, human fifteen years old, was an enormously encourage army, his family, and his people as a political, and religious conflicts. and divine. significant one. Democracy created a with and result of the Greek victory. Aeschylus Around 456 B.C.E., two years after sense of community and pride among also celeb encourages his audience to sympathize the production of what contempo- LIFE AND TIMES quachAatedi Athenian citizens, which helped them it in expli with and weep for the defeated. But he raries agreed was his masterpiece, the band together with other Greek states the Persia also celebrates Greek victory, and frames Oresteia, Aeschylus died in the Greek Aeschylus's life and work were closely against a major military threat: the invad- emperor it in explicitly ideological terms. Whereas city of Gela in Sicily, supposedly killed tied up with the changing political situ- ing Persian Empire. Jon by demo the Persians are subject to the rule of the by a falling tortoise. His four-line epi- ation of Greece in his time. He was bu Darius the Great, ruler of Persia, freedom: emperor and his family, the Greeks, led taph celebrates Aeschylus as a brave born in the late sixth century, around built up the largest empire the world the inspi by democratic Athens, are fighting for patriot, whose finest achievement was 524 B.C.E., in the town of Eleusis, in had yet seen. He subdued many parts Hellas! S freedom: they urge each other on with his military service on behalf of his Attica. The main city of the region was of the Greek world, and in 490 B.C.E. the inspiring cry "Forward, you sons of country. The lines emphasize his par- Athens, a major city-state (polis), which tried to defeat the remaining cities, in ogy that first priz Hellas! Set your country free!" The tril- ticipation in the battle of Marathon included the rural area outside the city, a fierce battle in the bay of Marathon as well as the urban downtown. Aeschy- ogy that included Persians was awarded against the Persian invasion and make near Athens. All Athenian men of establish lus's life was dominated by the strato- fighting age, including Aeschylus and finest tra first prize at the Great Dionysia, and it no mention of the fact that he also Aesch established Aeschylus's reputation as the wrote plays: blos indallaslyonquard spheric cultural, political, economic, his brother, Cynegeirus, gathered in and military rise of Athens, where he defense, and, despit lific arti finest tragedian of his day.sir ulai despite being outnum- lived and worked. During Aeschylus's bered at least two to one, the Athe- tragedies Aeschylus was a successful and pro- as This tomb hides Aeschylus, son of lifetime, Athens changed its political nians were the victors. Cynegeirus Great lific artist, who composed some ninety an Euphorion, system from tyranny to democracy, tragedies. Many won first prize in the al the Athenian, who died in fruitful fought off foreign invaders against was fatally wounded when his arm was seven c enormous odds, and grew to become chopped off by an enem Great Dionysia. Unfortunately, only enemy battle-axe, Seven as oldGela. The sacred battlefield of Marathon but Aeschylus lived to tell the tale. Prometh seven complete plays survive: Persians, boinlod ardi Solo ib ith boulder has been Seven against Thebes, Suppliant Women, bisa could tell his famous courage, Thevabpretho Prometheus Bound (whose authorship And the long-haired Mede, who hand, the chalqosgiv has been doubted by some modern schol- end knows it well. doliquor

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Question:

What were the main characteristics of the political life of Athens during Aeschylus' time

What is the term used to call a ruler of the city-state in Athens before changing to a democratic state?

From the time of democracy onward, in what way was Athens governed?

What were the most important wars in the Mediterranean world Athens got engaged during Aeschylus' time? Who

won?

What is the tragedy of Aeschylus about one battle of the wars?

From whose standpoint is that tragedy told?

What is the name of the Athenian dramatic festival in which the tragedians such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides competed and won prizes?

Who is Agamemnon's daughter? Why was she killed by his father?

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