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Persians (version 2)

Book cover
By: (c. 525/524-456/455 BC)

The earliest of Aeschylus' plays to survive is "The Persians" (Persai), performed in 472 BC and based on experiences in Aeschylus's own life, specifically the Battle of Salamis. It is unique among surviving Greek tragedies in that it describes a recent historical event. "The Persians" focuses on the popular Greek theme of hubris by blaming Persia's loss on the pride of its king. It is the second and only surviving part of a now otherwise lost trilogy that won the first prize at the dramatic competitions in Athens’ City Dionysia festival in 472 BCE, with Pericles serving as choregos. The first play in the trilogy was called "Phineus"; it presumably dealt with Jason and the Argonauts' rescue of King Phineus from the torture that the monstrous harpies inflicted at the behest of Zeus. The subject of the third play, "Glaucus," was either a mythical Corinthian king who was devoured by his horses because he angered the goddess Aphrodite or a Boeotian farmer who ate a magical herb that transformed him into a sea deity with the gift of prophecy. In "The Persians," Xerxes invites the gods' enmity for his hubristic expedition against Greece in 480/79 BCE; the focus of the drama is the defeat of Xerxes' navy at Salamis. Aeschylus himself had fought the Persians at Marathon (490 BC). He may also have fought at Salamis, just eight years before the play was performed.

First Page:

FOUR PLAYS OF AESCHYLUS

THE SUPPLIANT MAIDENS THE PERSIANS THE SEVEN AGAINST THEBES THE PROMETHEUS BOUND

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH VERSE BY E.D.A. MORSHEAD, MA.

INTRODUCTION

The surviving dramas of Aeschylus are seven in number, though he is believed to have written nearly a hundred during his life of sixty nine years, from 525 B.C. to 456 B.C. That he fought at Marathon in 490, and at Salamis in 480 B.C. is a strongly accredited tradition, rendered almost certain by the vivid references to both battles in his play of The Persians , which was produced in 472. But his earliest extant play was, probably, not The Persians but The Suppliant Maidens a mythical drama, the fame of which has been largely eclipsed by the historic interest of The Persians , and is undoubtedly the least known and least regarded of the seven. Its topic the flight of the daughters of Danaus from Egypt to Argos, in order to escape from a forced bridal with their first cousins, the sons of Aegyptus is legendary, and the lyric element predominates in the play as a whole... Continue reading book >>


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