Release Date: 10 December 1010
THE PLAYS OF Aeschylus - INTRODUCTION - AESCHYLUS was born in the year 525 before Christ. He was born in Eleusis, a town of Attica, placed on a height near the sea, and opposite the island of Salan is. The river Cephissus flowed through the surrounding plain. Eleusis was a town sacred to the worship of Demeter Latin, Ceres, Mother Earth, and her daughter Persephone Proserpine in whom Pluto took a share typical of the change from summer to winter in the seasons. From Athens to Eleusis there was a Slcred Way with monuments on either side of it, and a Te nple of Apollo. Once a year a great procession travelled on that lvay from Athens to the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries, the most sacred in all Greece. The old tenlple of Derneter in Ele1.1sis was standing in the time of Eschylus, whose father Euphorion is supposed to have been one of its priesls. That temple was burnt by the Persians in the year 484 before Christ, in the IiTetime of the poet, 7 1 1 0 was then forty-one years old. The struggle with Persia brought out the full energy of Greece. Literature, which is the expression of the highest life of man, always rises uith the energies of which it comes. A people battling strenuously for what it cares for, and should care for, with its entire mind, lifts its thought up to the heights on which alone true poets can be bred. Such energies make strength in every way, and with it the force that creates wealth then follows luxury, by which men are tempted to rival one another in misuse of time then literature comes down from the heights, descends to satire, or else babbles elcgdnt and empty criticism cn the regions she has left. But Xschylus was born anjong the mysteries that felt Godspresence in the very earth he trod, and in a day of conflict that could put heroic life into the common citizen of Greece. When-thirty-five years old, Eschylus not only fought at Marathon, but earned public distinction there L am ong tile bravest of the brave. He was born poet, and poet born into the light of noble days. An old fable tells that when Eschylus was a boy Dionysus Latin, Bacchus appeared in dream to him. The boy had fallen asleep while watching a vineyard, the god in his dream bade him write tragedy, and when he awoke his first verses were made. His first public appearance as a tragic writer was at the age of twenty-five, but he was not victorious over competitors until the year in which the Persians burnt the temple of Demeter in Eleusis, when schylus was forty-one years old. He was fifty-three years old when he gained B. c. 472 the prize at Athens with a trilogy, a set of three connected pieces of which The Persians was the first. And this is the earliest of the plajs of Wschylus that has come down to us. He is said to have written seventy plays but there remain to us only the seven which are here translated. The Persian war came to an end in the year 470 B. c., and Cimon, the son cf Miltiades, had sway in Athens. Two ears afterwards, B. C. 468, Xschylus, who had then already produced the Seven against Thebes, was defeated in the contest with a younger tragedian, Sophocles. Soon afterwards Bschylus went to the Court of Hiero, King of Syracuse. It is said that he had been accused at Athens of impiety for revealing some part of the Eleusinian mysteries in which he had been early initiated. Hiero died in the jear 467 KC., and IEschylus nine years later, at the age cfsixty-seven, inthe year 458 B C...
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