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Aeschylus Biography

The biography of Aeschylus. Æschylus (es′ki-lus) or Aeschylus was the father of the Greek tragedy, who distinguished himself as a soldier both at Marathon and Salamis before he figured as a poet; wrote, it is said, some seventy dramas, of which only seven are extant—the "Suppliants," the "Persæ," the "Seven against Thebes," the "Prometheus Bound," the "Agamemnon," the "Choephori," and the "Eumenides," his plays being trilogies; born at Eleusis and died in Sicily (525-456 B.C.).

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Æschylus (es′ki-lus) or Aeschylus, the first in time of the three great tragic poets of Greece, born at Eleusis, in Attica, 525 B.C., died in Sicily 456. Before he gained distinction as a dramatist he had fought at the battle of Marathon (490), as he afterwards did at Artemisium, Salamis, and Platæa. He first gained the prize for tragedy in 484 B.C. The Persians, the earliest of his extant pieces, formed part of a trilogy which gained the prize in 472 B.C. In 468 B.C. he was defeated by Sophocles, and then is said to have gone to the Court of Hiero, King of Syracuse. Altogether he is reputed to have composed ninety plays and gained thirteen triumphs. Only seven of his tragedies are extant: The PersiansSeven against ThebesSuppliantsPrometheusAgamemnonChoephori, and Eumenides, the last three forming a trilogy on the story of Orestes, represented in 458 B.C. Æschylus may be called the creator of Greek tragedy, both from the splendour of his dramatic writings and from the scenic improvements and accessories he introduced. Till his time only one actor had appeared on the stage at a time, and by bringing on a second he was really the founder of dramatic dialogue. His style was grand, daring, and full of energy, and his choruses, though difficult, are among the noblest pieces of poetry in the world. His plays have little or no plot, and his characters are drawn by a few powerful strokes. There are English poetical translations of his plays by Blackie, Plumptre, Swanwick, Campbell, Robert Browning, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.—Bibliography: Bishop Copleston, Æschylus, in English Classics for Modern Readers Series (Blackwood & Son); Miss J. Case, Translation of Prometheus Vinctus (Dent).

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