Aeschylus (525 BC-456 BC)

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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.


Works 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.

Works 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.

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