Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE LIFE OF ÆSCHYLUS - The Lyrical Dramas of Aeschylus
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THE LIFE OF ÆSCHYLUS - Aeschylus, The Lyrical Dramas of Aeschylus 
The Lyrical Dramas of Aeschylus, translated into English Verse by John Stuart Blackie (London: J.M. Dent, 1906).
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THE LIFE OF ÆSCHYLUS
After his death the Athenians testified their esteem for his character by decreeing—what was quite an extraordinary privilege according to their stage practice—that his dramas might be exhibited at the great Dionysiac festivals, when their author could be no longer a competitor for the prize* The people of Gela, justly proud that the bones of so great a man should repose in their soil, erected a monument to his memory with the following inscription:—
With regard to the great merits of Æschylus both as a poet and as the creator of the tragic stage, there is but one testimony among the writers of antiquity. He not only introduced, as we have elsewhere stated, a second, and afterwards a third actor—without which there was no scope for the proper representation of an action—but he made the greatest improvements in the whole machinery and decorations of the stage, gave dignity to the actors by a minute attention to their masks, dresses, and buskins,† besides attending specially to the graceful culture of the dance, according to the testimony of Athenæus above quoted. As a dramatist he is distinguished by peculiar loftiness of conception and grandeur of phraseology. His style is sometimes harsh and abrupt, but it is always manly and vigorous; his metaphors are bold and striking, with something at times almost oriental in their cast; and, though not free from the offence of mixing incongruous metaphors—the natural sin of an imagination at once fearless and fertile—I do not think he can be fairly charged with turgidity and bombast; for, as Aristophanes remarks, in the Frogs, there is a superhuman grandeur about his characters which demands a more than common elevation of phrase.‡ As to the obscurity with which he has been charged, the comparative clearness of those plays which have been most frequently transcribed is a plain indication that this fault proceeds more from the carelessness of stupid copyists, than from confusion of thought or inadequate power of expression in the writer. In some cases, as in the prophecy of Calchas in the opening scene of the Agamemnon, the obscurity is studied and most appropriate Poetry, like painting, will have its shade. But the great excellence of Æschylus, as a poet, is the bracing tone of thorough manhood, noble morality, and profound piety which pervades his works Among those who are celebrated by Virgil as walking with Orpheus and Musæus in blissful Elysium—
“Quique pii vates et Phoebo digna locuti,”
[* ]Scholiast, Aristoph Acharn v 10
[† ]Philostratus, Vit Soph I. 9; Vit Apollon VI. 11, p. 244.
[‡ ]The great comedian is particularly amusing in the contrast which he draws between the rude instinctive grandeur of the Æschylean diction and the elegant rhetorical decorations of Euripides —