Aeschylus


Aeschylus

Easton Press Aeschylus books

The Oresteia - 100 Greatest Books Ever Written
 

Franklin Library Aeschylus books

Complete Plays of Aeschylus - Great Books of the Western World - 1978
The Oresteia - 100 Greatest Books of All Time - 1980
Greek Tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides - Oxford Library (published in both quarter bound and full leather) - 1982
 
 

Who was Aeschylus?

(525-456 B.C.), was a Greek dramatist, the earliest of the great tragic poets of Athens, and hence called the "Father of Greek Tragedy", born in Eleusis, near Athens, Aeschylus fought against the Persians at Marathon in 490 B.C., at Salamis in 480 B.C., and at Plataea the following year, sharing in the exaltation and triumph of Greece over the repulse of the Persians. He made three trips to Sicily. During his last visit he died at Gela, where a monument was later raised to his memory.
He began producing tragedies about 497 B.C.; by 484 B.C. he was the most popular dramatic poet of Athens. Aeschylus is said to have written about ninety plays. His tragedies were presented in trilogies, or groups of three, usually bound together by a common theme, and each trilogy was followed by a satyr drama. Only seven tragedies of his authorship have survived. The earliest is The Suppliants, a drama with little action but many choral songs of great beauty; it is the first play of a trilogy treating the story of the fifty daughters of Danatis (Q.V.) and their ill-fated marriages to the fifty sons of Aegyptus. The Persae, presented in 472 B.C. is a historical tragedy on the battle of Salamis, the scene being laid in Persia at the court of Queen Atossa; this drama is also unique in that it seems to have no connection with the other two plays of the trilogy. The Seven against Thebes, produced in 467 B.C., treats a favorite subject drawn from Theban legend, the conflict between the two sons of (Edipus, Eteocles and Polynices), for the throne of Thebes. It was the third play of the trilogy, the first two of which there were Laius and Edipus. The Prometheus Bound, of uncertain date, portrays the punishment of the defiant Prometheus by Zeus, ruler of gods and men; it was apparently the first play of the trilogy, the others being Prometheus Unbound and Prometheus the Fire-bringer. The remaining three plays, Agamemnon, The Choephori, and the Eumenides, produced in 458 B.C., form the trilogy known as the Oresteia, or story of Orestes. In Agamemnon, one of the greatest works of dramatic literature. King Agamemnon returns home from Troy and is treacherously murdered by his faithless wife Clytemnestra. In the second play, Agamemnon's son, Orestes, returns to Argos and avenges his father's murder by slaying his mother and her paramour Egisthus. This act of matricide is punished by the Furies. In The Eumenides, Orestes is pursued by the avenging furies until he is cleansed of his blood guilt and set free by the ancient court of the Areopagus, through inter-cession of Athena, goddess of wisdom.Aeschylus is generally considered the true inventor of Greek tragedy. By introducing a second actor into the play, he was the originator of dramatic dialogue, and he made many alterations in the form and staging of the drama. The characteristics of his works are simplicity, picturesque ness, and grandeur. Aeschylus had a deep and abiding interest in religion and theology, and the Oresteia, his maturest work, provides an insight into his conception of justice and mercy, and his believe in a divine will, through whose aid man shall by his own suffering achieve wisdom.
 

Aeschylus' Death

how did aeschylus die is not entirely clear, and there are different accounts.

One famous and often repeated story about Aeschylus's death comes from the historian Plutarch. According to Plutarch, Aeschylus was killed by a tortoise dropped by an eagle. The story suggests that an eagle, mistaking the bald head of Aeschylus for a rock, dropped the tortoise on him to crack open its shell. This account, however, is often regarded as more of a legend or anecdote rather than a historical fact.

The exact details of Aeschylus's death remain uncertain, and it's challenging to separate fact from fiction given the passage of time and the nature of historical records from ancient Greece. Nonetheless, Aeschylus's legacy endures through his surviving plays, and he is remembered as a significant figure in the history of Greek literature and drama. 
 

The Oresteia

The Oresteia stands as a timeless masterpiece of ancient Greek tragedy, penned by the playwright Aeschylus, often hailed as the father of Greek tragedy. Born circa 525 BCE in Eleusis, Greece, Aeschylus crafted a dramatic trilogy that continues to captivate audiences with its timeless themes, complex characters, and profound insights into the human condition. Comprising three interconnected plays—Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides—The Oresteia recounts the epic saga of the House of Atreus, a royal family torn apart by betrayal, revenge, and divine intervention. Set against the backdrop of the Trojan War and its aftermath, the trilogy explores themes of justice, retribution, fate, and the struggle between the old order and the new.

In Agamemnon, the first play of the trilogy, Aeschylus chronicles the return of Agamemnon, king of Argos, from the Trojan War, only to meet his tragic fate at the hands of his vengeful wife, Clytemnestra. The Libation Bearers continues the story as Agamemnon's son, Orestes, avenges his father's death by murdering Clytemnestra and her lover, Aegisthus. Finally, The Eumenides depicts Orestes' trial before the goddess Athena and the Furies, culminating in the establishment of a new system of justice in Athens.

Through his powerful storytelling and rich symbolism, Aeschylus delves into the complexities of human nature and the moral ambiguities of justice and vengeance. The Oresteia grapples with timeless questions about the nature of justice, the consequences of violence, and the role of divine intervention in human affairs. Since its premiere in ancient Greece, The Oresteia has remained a seminal work in the canon of Western literature, inspiring generations of playwrights, poets, and scholars. Aeschylus' profound exploration of ethical dilemmas and existential themes continues to resonate with audiences worldwide, reaffirming the enduring relevance of Greek tragedy as a lens through which to examine the human experience.
 

Aeschylus Pronunciation

How to pronounce "Aeschylus" is typically anglicized as "ES-kuh-lus." 
Here's a breakdown of the pronunciation:
"ES" sounds like the first part of the word "essay."
"kuh" sounds like the first syllable of the word "cut."
"lus" sounds like the first part of the word "lustrous."

So, when put together, it is something like "ES-kuh-lus." Keep in mind that pronunciation may vary slightly, and in the original Greek, it might have been pronounced somewhat differently.



Aeschylus quotes

"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."

"In our control of the forces of nature, our fears have more to dread from them than our hopes have to gain."

"Memory is the mother of all wisdom."

"It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered."

"From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow."

"In war, the first casualty is truth."

"He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God."

"Wisdom comes alone through suffering."

"It is a profitable thing, if one is wise, to seem foolish."

"Men's best successes come after their disappointments."


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