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date: 21 November 2019

Aeschylus [Aischylos]locked

  • Warren Anderson
  • , revised by Thomas J. Mathiesen
  •  and Robert Anderson

Extract

[Aischylos]

(b Eleusis [now Elefsina], 525 bce; d Gela [now Terranova], Sicily, 456 bce). Greek tragic poet. He wrote about 80 dramas, tragedies, and satyr plays, of which eight, all tragedies, have survived.

Probably the earliest of Aeschylus’s plays was the Persians (472 bce), which celebrated the Greek victory over vast invading forces led by Xerxes; set at the Persian court, the play is one long lament. With one exception (the singing of a paean by the Greeks, 393), the references to music emphasize the tone of mourning: ‘there resounds a song unlike that of victory’ (kelados ou paiōnios, 605). The hymns of the Persians are directed to the dead (619–20, 625) and their singing is a cry of pain (1043, iuze melos). In the remarkably extended sequence of strophic lyrics with which the play closes (852–1076), the chorus speaks of the lamentation of a Mariandynian mourner (939). The scholiast on this line referred to a saying about playing on Mariandynian auloi, famous for the playing of dirges, in the Iastian (or Ionian) mode; the resulting problem of modal ethos remains unresolved....

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