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A famous ancient marine (Aeschylus 525 – 456 B.C.)

02/10/2011

Προτομη του Αισχύλου

Bust that is said to represent Aeschylus

The family of Aeschylus traced its linage back to the house of Codros, the last king of Athens who had sacrificed himself for his county. Aeschylus was born in Eleusis in 525 B.C. and received the schooling available to the children of the noble families of Athens. He answered all the calls of his country fighting as a heavily armored hoplite. His two brothers Cynaegeiros and Euphorion were killed at the battle of Marathon. At Salamis he fought as a marine upon the triremes fielded by his home town and was present at Platea.

Aeschylus is said to have introduced a second actor on stage. In this way the theatrical action aided by the chorus interventions took a complete form. His heroes were not plaything of Fate. Gods punished them only when they exceeded the limit. His style is pompous and has an air of majesty. Aeschylus wrote 90 plays from which we know the titles of 79. Only seven were saved complete:

  • The Persians
  • Suppliants
  • Seven Against Thebes
  • Prometheus Bound
  • Agamemnon
  • Libation Bearers
  • The Eumenides

The “Persians” went on stage for the first time in 472 B.C. with the veterans of the Persian Wars among the audience. Behind the play’s dramatic verses hides the titanic struggle of the marines during the battle of Salamis

Aeschylus left for Sicily, to the court of Hiero ruler of Syracusae, embittered because the Athenians considered him lesser poet that Sophocles and Simonides. He settled in Gela until his death in 455 B.C. According to oral tradition an eagle who tried to break the shell of a tortoise let it fall and hit the poet on his head killing him instantly. Geloans made him a magnificent funeral at public expense and according to the poets wish engraved on his tombstone:

“Let the long haired Persian tell you about the bravery of Aeschylus, son

of Euphorion, for he (the Persian) learned it well in the thickets of Marathon”

Eternal testament that Aeschylus considered serving his country more important than high birth or fame!

Codridae Clan hoplite reconstructed by Chris Boatcalli

Sources:

Ecnyclopedia  «PAPYRUS» 1970

http://www.theatrehistory.com/ancient/aeschylus001.html

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