Article

Aeschylus

Isabelle Torrance

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online December 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0001
Aeschylus

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Aeschylus (also spelled Aischylos or Aiskhylos) was born c. 525/4 bce to an aristocratic family in Eleusis, a town in western Attica, part of the territory controlled by Athens. He was one of the earliest tragic poets. He first entered a tragic competition c. 499 (dramatic competitions were introduced in the 530s bce ) and won first prize for the first time in 484. In the 470s he visited Sicily, where he was the guest of Hieron of Syracuse. He also died in Sicily (at Gela) in 456/5, during a visit after the production of his Oresteia in Athens in 458. During his lifetime and after his death he was celebrated as one of the finest, if not the finest Athenian tragic poet. He won thirteen victories at tragic competitions (see Theater and Staging) and was credited with having written between seventy and ninety plays. Only seven complete plays survive, all tragedies. Of these, three form a connected trilogy in which the three plays tell a single overarching plot: the Oresteia (Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides). Two more were parts of connected trilogies of which the other two plays are lost (Seven against Thebes and Suppliants). One formed part of a trilogy without any close connection to the other plays (Persians), and the authenticity of one is disputed (Prometheus Bound). In addition to his poetic achievement, ancient sources tell us that his epitaph recorded his resistance against the Persians at the battle of Marathon, when, in 490 bce, the Athenians and their allies drove back an attacking Persian horde of vastly superior numbers. It is also possible that Aeschylus fought in the naval battle at Salamis in 480 bce, another Greek victory over the Persians and the subject of his Persians.

Article.  12619 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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