BIOGRAPHY ESCHYLE – Inventor of Greek tragedy, Aeschylus is a great name from Antiquity. He is the author of plays such as “Les Perses” or “L’Orestie” the only one of his trilogies found intact.
Short biography of Aeschylus – Poet and playwright, Aeschylus was born around 525 BC in Eleusis in Greece. He is part of a large and noble Athenian family and as such participates in the wars waged against the Persians. It also inspires the piece The Persians which is one of his oldest works. Aeschylus is said to have written more than a hundred plays during his lifetime, but only seven have survived to this day. Among the most outstanding pieces of this prolific author are: The Seven Against Thebes, The Suppliants, L’Orestie Where Prometheus in chains.
Aeschylus likes to deal with political and religious subjects and tries to renew the dramatic style by bringing innovations to it. It was he who, according to Aristotle, first had the idea of having his plays performed by two actors. During the performances, Aeschylus, who likes to show and tell without giving any deep dimension to the characters, relies almost all of his dramatic effect on the omnipresence of the choirs. He won no less than thirteen times the tragic contest between 484 BC and his death. After an invitation from Hieron, the tyrant of Syracuse who is closely interested in the dramatic art, the playwright discovers Sicily. He stayed there for some time before returning to Athens in 469 BC Almost ten years later, he returned to Sicily and settled in the city of Gela where he died a few years later, in 456 BC. -VS.
According to a legend, Aeschylus would have been the victim of an unusual death to say the least. The Roman historian of the first century after J.-C., Valère Maxime indeed tells in his Memorable actions and words that Aeschylus would have been killed by a turtle he would have received on his head. While Aeschylus was seated, an eagle flying above him and carrying a turtle in its talons, allegedly mistook the author’s bald head for a stone. The latter would thus have dropped his due on the playwright to break it and feast on his flesh. Suffering from this enormous shock, Aeschylus would have succumbed to his injuries.
Although Aeschylus is considered to be the author of around 110 plays, including 90 tragedies and 20 satirical dramas, only seven of them have survived. Its oldest piece is undoubtedly The Suppliants written around 493-490 BC and performed between 464 and 463 BC. AD We also owe Aeschylus, The Persians, a tragedy he composed a few years after taking part in the Battle of Salamis. In -467, takes place the representation of Seven against Thebes. The work which deals with the succession struggle between Etéocles and Polynices after the death of their father, Oedipus, is in fact the last part of a trilogy of which only a few fragments remain today. This is also the case for the part Prometheus in chains, a work that seems to belong to a trilogy dedicated to the Titan Prometheus. In fact, Aeschylus’ only complete trilogy is called L’Orestie and is made up of the parts Agamemnon, The Choéphores and The Eumenides. This piece, which won the tragic competition in Athens in -458, is the only known complete work of Aeschylus.
In 472 BC, Aeschylus made represent The Persians in Athens. It is the oldest Greek tragedy whose text has come down to us. It would be part of a tetralogy, that is to say a set of four tragedies whose pieces were entitled: Phinea, Glaucos de Potnies and Fire igniter prometheus. In his work, Aeschylus evokes the Second Median War and in particular the battle of salamis. Having fought in these wars himself, the playwright makes violent and crude descriptions of them. But with this piece, Aeschylus will above all revolutionize the genre by making several actors appear and no longer just a narrator accompanied by a choir. The only tragedy in the whole of Greek tragedy, to have as its subject a historical fact and not a mythological one, the work of Aeschylus appears as a key work. It relates in fact a founding event of Athenian democracy: the beginning of the hegemony of the city over the Greek world.
Aeschylus is the author of a dramatic trilogy titled L’Orestie whose first performance at the Great Dionysia of Athens dates from 458 BC. AD It is made up of three tragedies: Agamemnon, The Choéphores and The Eumenides. Originally there was also a satirical drama called Proteus whose text has been lost. The plays tell the history of the Atrides, accursed family with a fate marked by murder, parricide and infanticide. The beginning of the work recounts Agamemnon’s return to his city of Argos. But very quickly, the prophetess Cassandra announces her death. The prophecy is fulfilled by the hand of Clytemnestra, his own wife. But in The Choéphores, the latter faces the vengeance of her son, Orestes, who decides to assassinate her in return. The trilogy concludes with the judgment of Orestes, who will be acquitted of his gesture thanks to the establishment of the first tribunal of men by Athena. Through the history of the Atrides family, Aeschylus questions the primitive justice of the Greeks based on the law of retaliation, that of immediate and individual vengeance, before calling for democracy.