A new ending was added to the play some fifty years later: Antigone and Ismene mourn their dead brothers, a messenger enters announcing an edict prohibiting the burial of Polynices; and finally, Antigone declares her intention to defy this edict. The concluding satyr play was The Sphinx.
Aeschylus continued his emphasis on the polis with The Suppliants in BC Hiketides , which pays tribute to the democratic undercurrents running through Athens in advance of the establishment of a democratic government in In the play, the Danaids , the fifty daughters of Danaus , founder of Argos , flee a forced marriage to their cousins in Egypt. They turn to King Pelasgus of Argos for protection, but Pelasgus refuses until the people of Argos weigh in on the decision, a distinctly democratic move on the part of the king.
The people decide that the Danaids deserve protection, and they are allowed within the walls of Argos despite Egyptian protests.
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The publication of Oxyrhynchus Papyrus fr. A plausible reconstruction of the trilogy's last two-thirds runs thus:  In The Egyptians , the Argive-Egyptian war threatened in the first play has transpired. During the course of the war, King Pelasgus has been killed, and Danaus rules Argos. He negotiates a peace settlement with Aegyptus, as a condition of which, his fifty daughters will marry the fifty sons of Aegyptus.
Danaus secretly informs his daughters of an oracle predicting that one of his sons-in-law would kill him; he therefore orders the Danaids to murder their husbands on their wedding night. His daughters agree. The Danaids would open the day after the wedding.
In short order, it is revealed that forty-nine of the Danaids killed their husbands as ordered; Hypermnestra, however, loved her husband Lynceus, and thus spared his life and helped him to escape. Angered by his daughter's disobedience, Danaus orders her imprisonment and, possibly, her execution. He and Hypermnestra will establish a ruling dynasty in Argos. The other forty-nine Danaids are absolved of their murderous crime, and married off to unspecified Argive men. The satyr play following this trilogy was titled Amymone , after one of the Danaids. The only complete trilogy of Greek plays by any playwright still extant save a few missing lines in several spots is the Oresteia BC , although the satyr play that originally followed it, Proteus , is lost except for some fragments.
Aeschylus begins in Greece describing the return of King Agamemnon from his victory in the Trojan War , from the perspective of the towns people the Chorus and his wife, Clytemnestra. However, dark foreshadowings build to the death of the king at the hands of his wife, who was angry at his sacrifice of their daughter Iphigenia , who was killed so that the gods would restore the winds and allow the Greek fleet to sail to Troy.
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She was also unhappy at his keeping of the Trojan prophetess Cassandra as a concubine. Cassandra foretells of the murder of Agamemnon, and of herself, to the assembled townsfolk, who are horrified.
She then enters the palace knowing that she cannot avoid her fate. The ending of the play includes a prediction of the return of Orestes , son of Agamemnon, who will seek to avenge his father. The Libation Bearers continues the tale, opening with Orestes's arrival at Agamemnon's tomb. At the tomb, Electra meets Orestes , who has returned from exile in Phocis , and they plan revenge upon Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus. Clytemnestra's account of a nightmare in which she gives birth to a snake is recounted by the chorus; and this leads her to order Electra , her daughter, to pour libations on Agamemnon's tomb with the assistance of libation bearers in hope of making amends.
Orestes enters the palace pretending to bear news of his own death, and when Clytemnestra calls in Aegisthus to share in the news, Orestes kills them both. Orestes is then beset by the Furies , who avenge the murders of kin in Greek mythology. The final play of The Oresteia addresses the question of Orestes' guilt. He makes his way to the temple of Apollo and begs him to drive the Furies away. Apollo had encouraged Orestes to kill Clytemnestra, and so bears some of the guilt for the murder. The Furies are a more ancient race of the gods, and Apollo sends Orestes to the temple of Athena, with Hermes as a guide.
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The Furies track him down, and the goddess Athena , patron of Athens, steps in and declares that a trial is necessary. Apollo argues Orestes' case and, after the judges, including Athena deliver a tie vote, Athena announces that Orestes is acquitted.
She renames the Furies The Eumenides The Good-spirited, or Kindly Ones , and extols the importance of reason in the development of laws, and, as in The Suppliants , the ideals of a democratic Athens are praised. In addition to these six works, a seventh tragedy, Prometheus Bound , is attributed to Aeschylus by ancient authorities. Since the late 19th century, however, scholars have increasingly doubted this ascription, largely on stylistic grounds.
Its production date is also in dispute, with theories ranging from the s BC to as late as the s.
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The play consists mostly of static dialogue, as throughout the play the Titan Prometheus is bound to a rock as punishment from the Olympian Zeus for providing fire to humans. The god Hephaestus , the Titan Oceanus , and the chorus of Oceanids all express sympathy for Prometheus' plight.
Prometheus meets Io , a fellow victim of Zeus' cruelty; and prophesies her future travels, revealing that one of her descendants will free Prometheus. The play closes with Zeus sending Prometheus into the abyss because Prometheus refuses to divulge the secret of a potential marriage that could prove Zeus' downfall. The Prometheus Bound appears to have been the first play in a trilogy called the Prometheia. In the second play, Prometheus Unbound , Heracles frees Prometheus from his chains and kills the eagle that had been sent daily to eat Prometheus' perpetually regenerating liver.
Perhaps foreshadowing his eventual reconciliation with Prometheus, we learn that Zeus has released the other Titans whom he imprisoned at the conclusion of the Titanomachy. In the trilogy's conclusion, Prometheus the Fire-Bringer , it appears that the Titan finally warns Zeus not to sleep with the sea nymph Thetis , for she is fated to give birth to a son greater than the father. Not wishing to be overthrown, Zeus marries Thetis off to the mortal Peleus; the product of that union is Achilles, Greek hero of the Trojan War. After reconciling with Prometheus, Zeus probably inaugurates a festival in his honor at Athens.
Only the titles and assorted fragments of Aeschylus's other plays have come down to us. We have enough fragments of some plays along with comments made by later authors and scholiasts to produce rough synopses of their plots.
This play was based on books 9 and 16 in Homer 's Iliad. Achilles sits in silent indignation over his humiliation at Agamemnon's hands for most of the play. Envoys from the Greek army attempt to reconcile him to Agamemnon , but he yields only to his friend Patroclus , who then battles the Trojans in Achilles' armour. The bravery and death of Patroclus are reported in a messenger's speech, which is followed by mourning. This play was based on books 18, 19, and 22 of the Iliad ; it follows the Daughters of Nereus, the sea god, who lament Patroclus' death.
In the play, a messenger tells how Achilles, perhaps reconciled to Agamemnon and the Greeks, slew Hector. In this play, Achilles sits in silent mourning over Patroclus, after a brief discussion with Hermes. A scale is brought on stage and Hector's body is placed in one scale and gold in the other.
The dynamic dancing of the chorus of Trojans when they enter with Priam is reported by Aristophanes. The children of Niobe , the heroine, have been slain by Apollo and Artemis because Niobe had gloated that she had more children than their mother, Leto. Niobe sits in silent mourning on stage during most of the play. In the Republic , Plato quotes the line "God plants a fault in mortals when he wills to destroy a house utterly. When Aeschylus first began writing, the theatre had only just begun to evolve, although earlier playwrights like Thespis had already expanded the cast to include an actor who was able to interact with the chorus.
Aeschylus is also said to have made the costumes more elaborate and dramatic, and having his actors wear platform boots cothurni to make them more visible to the audience. According to a later account of Aeschylus's life, as they walked on stage in the first performance of the Eumenides , the chorus of Furies were so frightening in appearance that they caused young children to faint, patriarchs to urinate, and pregnant women to go into labour.
His plays were written in verse, no violence is performed on stage, and the plays have a remoteness from daily life in Athens, either by relating stories about the gods or by being set, like The Persians , in far-away locales. Aeschylus's popularity is evident in the praise the comic playwright Aristophanes gives him in The Frogs , produced some half-century after Aeschylus's death.
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Appearing as a character in the play, Aeschylus claims at line that his Seven against Thebes "made everyone watching it to love being warlike"; with his Persians , Aeschylus claims at lines —7 that he "taught the Athenians to desire always to defeat their enemies. Aeschylus's works were influential beyond his own time.
Michael Ewans argues in his Wagner and Aeschylus. The Ring and the Oresteia London: Faber. A critic of his book however, while not denying that Wagner read and respected Aeschylus, has described his arguments as unreasonable and forced. Sir J. Sheppard argues in the second half of his Aeschylus and Sophocles: Their Work and Influence that Aeschylus, along with Sophocles , have played a major part in the formation of dramatic literature from the Renaissance to the present, specifically in French and Elizabethan drama. He also claims that their influence went beyond just drama and applies to literature in general, citing Milton and the Romantics.
Prior to writing his acclaimed trilogy, O'Neill had been developing a play about Aeschylus himself, and he noted that Aeschylus "so changed the system of the tragic stage that he has more claim than anyone else to be regarded as the founder Father of Tragedy. During his presidential campaign in , Senator Robert F. Kennedy was notified of King's murder before a campaign stop in Indianapolis, Indiana and was warned not to attend the event due to fears of rioting from the mostly African-American crowd.
Kennedy insisted on attending and delivered an impromptu speech that delivered news of King's death to the crowd. Acknowledging the audience's emotions, Kennedy referred to his own grief at the murder of his brother, President John F. Kennedy and, quoting a passage from the play Agamemnon in translation , said: "My favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote: 'Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.
Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.