Aeschylus Essay Research Paper Aeschylus was born

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Aeschylus Essay, Research Paper Aeschylus was born in Eleusis, a Greek town near Athens, in 525 B.C. He was the first of the great Greek tragedians, preceding both Sophocles and Euripides, and is often credited with inventing tragic drama. Prior to Aeschylus, plays were primitive, consisting of a single actor and a chorus offering commentary. In his works, he added a "second actor" (often more than one) thus creating endless new dramatic possibilities. He lived until 456 B.C., fighting in the wars against Persia, and attaining great acclaim in the world of the Athenian theater. Aeschylus wrote nearly ninety plays; however, only seven have survived to the modern era, including such famous works as Prometheus Bound and The Seven Against Thebes. Agamemnon is the first

of a trilogy, called the Oresteia, which continues with The Libation-Bearers and concludes with The Eumenides. The trilogy–the only such work to survive from Ancient Greece–is considered by many critics to be the greatest Athenian tragedy ever written, both for the power of its poetry and the strength of its characters. Agamemnon depicts the assassination of the title character by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her lover; The Libation-Bearers continues the story with the return of Agamemnon’s son, Orestes, who kills his mother and avenges his father. Orestes is pursued by the Furies in punishment for his matricide, and finally finds refuge in Athens, where the god Athena relieves him of his persecution. The events of Agamemnon take place against a backdrop that would have been

familiar to an Athenian audience. Agamemnon is returning from his victory at Troy, which Palmieri 2 has been besieged for ten years by Greek armies attempting to recover Helen, Agamemnon’s brother’s wife, stolen treacherously by the Trojan Prince, Paris. (The events of the Trojan War are recounted in Homer’s Iliad.) The play’s tragic events occur as a result of the crimes committed by Agamemnon’s family. His father, Atreus, murdered and cooked the children of his own brother, Thyestes, and served them to him; Clytemnestra’s lover, Aegisthus (Thyestes’s only surviving son), seeks revenge for that crime. Meanwhile, Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to gain a favorable wind to Troy, and Clytemnestra murders him to avenge her death. Tragedies were Athenian,

reflecting the taste and intellectual climate of mid fifth century Athens. The weight of history and heritage becomes a major theme of the play, and indeed of the entire trilogy, for the family it depicts cannot escape the cursed cycle of bloodshed from its past. Aeschylus wrote this victory-winning trilogy in Athens, 458 B.C. His participation in a loosely organized political ?group? is thought to have influenced his works. His political faction included Pericles, who led Athens to the height of its political power and its artistic achievement with democracy. Pericles? group believed in expanding democratic base of citizens, in manifesting Athens? imperial claims, and in fostering a foreign policy that was anti-Spartan. Sparta had suffered defeat during an uprising in a nearby

city-state. This Spartan failure upset the balance of power, which Pericles? group wished to exploit. Argos, a city-state in the heart o f the Peloponnesos, without a powerful Sparta, extended control over some smaller neighboring cities. In 462, Argos, Athens, and Thessaly formed an informal alliance. In 461, Argos changed her constitution from aristocratic to democratic. Her assembly, courts, and other features mimicked those of Athens. Something to note is Palmieri 3 whether or not these events had any influence over Aeschylus? decision to move the locale of the entire myth from Mycenae(the Homeric version of the epic) to Argos! In response to these democratic reforms, other political groups attacked the reforms. Ephialtes, the original leader of the quasi-democratic faction,