Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice. — G. K. Chesterton

Aeschylus

525–456 BC
Civilization: Greek — Athens
   Field of Renown:  literature — Playwright
Era:  Golden Age
Aeschylus
AESCHYLUS
FROM A BUST IN THE CAPITOLINE MUSEUM AT ROME.

Aeschylus was very highly regarded as a playwright in his own time, as well as a great war hero. He fought at both the battle of Marathon and Salamis. On his gravestone, he commemorated only his military accomplishments, of which he was most proud, in spite of the fact that the world for all ages has considered him primarily as a brilliant playwright. In addition to the great literary quality of his plays, Aeschylus invented several important theatrical innovations. Before his time, the action of a play was between a single performer, and a chorus. He invented the second actor. Modern audiences now expect scenes with multiple players, but it was Aeschylus who first helped convert a song and poetry performance into a drama. His plays, in general, were religiously reverent, and he won the first place award at the Dionysia festival over 13 times. Though it is claimed that he wrote over 70 plays, only seven currently survive in complete form. These are:

  • 490 BC     The Suppliants
  • 472 BC     The Persians
  • 467 BC     Seven Against Thebes
  • ??? BC     Prometheus Bound
  • 458 BC     Agamemnon
  • 458 BC     The Libation Bearers
  • 458 BC     The Eumenides

The following story links are predominantly to simplified renditions of his plays, rather than to stories about his personal life. In addition to stories based on his work, Aristophanes's The Frogs is included, since Aeschylus is a major character in that comedy.


Key events during the life of Aeschylus:


Year
Event
498 BC
Wrote and performed first plays.
490 BC
Performed The Suppliants, his oldest surviving play. Fought at Marathon.
480 BC
Fought at the battle of Salamis.
472 BC
Wrote The Persians, about battle of Salamis.
467 BC
Performed Seven Against Thebes.
458 BC
Performed the Oresteia Trilogy, Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides.
456 BC
Died.

Book Links
Stories from the Greek Tragedians  by  Alfred J. Church

Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
The Frogs  in  Stories from the Greek Comedians  by  Alfred J. Church
In the Theatre at Athens  in  Pictures from Greek Life and Story  by  Alfred J. Church
Great Men of Athens  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
Age of Pericles  in  The Story of the Greek People  by  Eva March Tappan


Image Links


Aeschylus: From a bust in the capitoline museum at Rome.
 in Pictures from Greek Life and Story

Theatre of Dionysus
 in The Story of the Greeks

Aeschylus (In the capitol at Rome)
 in The Story of the Greek People

Theatre of Dionysus, Restored.
 in Old World Hero Stories


Contemporary
Short Biography
Gela Tyrant of Sicily; was a patron of Aeschylus.
Miltiades Athenian General who led Greece to great victory at the Battle of Marathon.
Themistocles Athenian hero of the Battle of Salamis. He masterminded Athenian naval supremacy.
Cimon Athenian statesman and general. Fought Persians in Ionia after the war. Friend of Sparta.
Herodotus Wrote Histories of the Persian War and empires of the east.
Sophocles Wrote Greek Tragedies, including the tragedies of Agamemnon, Electra, and Orestes.