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Aeschylus was the first of
the great Athenian dramatists and playwrights. He was born around 525 B.C.
and died in approximately 455 B.C. in Sicily, overlapping the life of Sophocles
by about forty years. The son of Euphorion, Aeschylus fought and was wounded
at Marathon and took part in the defense of Greece when it was invaded by the
Persians in 480 B.C. During his lifetime, Greece was marked by intense political
rivalries and conflicts. In his plays Aeschylus dealt with these and other
issues, including religious and philosophical ones.
One major concern for the playwright was the nature of the divine power governing
the universe. Aeschylus here considered several age-old questions. If the divine
power is good, why does man suffer? Why is there evil in the world? What is
the role of fate and free will for man? Aeschylus provided no easy answers
but explored these questions through the lives of tragic heroes such as Orestes.
His work both influenced and was influenced by the later work of his student,
Sophocles, who bested him in a drama contest in 468 B.C. Aeschylus is best
known for three trilogies, only one of which, the Oresteia, survives
in its entirety. Of his Oedipus trilogy, only one play, Hepta
epi Theobas (Seven against Thebes), survives.
by the Author
Aeschylus. House of Atreus. Translated by E. D. A. Morshead. London:
Macmillan and Company, Ltd., 1928.
Aeschylus. 2 vols. Translated by Herbert Weir Smyth. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press, 1926-28.
about the Author
Oates, Whitney J., and Eugene O'Neill, eds. and trans. The Complete Greek
Drama. 2 vols. New York: Random House, 1938.
Plays of the Greek Dramatists. New York: Caxton House, Inc., 1954.
The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The
Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.