Aeschylus: Biography, Famous Plays, and Achievements

Achievements of Aeschylus

Aeschylus won several prizes at the Great Dionysia and other festivals in Athens

The sheer amount of dramatic success that Aeschylus attained in his lifetime made him perhaps the greatest Greek tragedian. The following are some of his major accomplishments:

  • His play Persians, which relied heavily on his exploits in the numerous battles he fought against the Persians, was performed at Hieron I’s court in Syracuse, Sicily. Hieron I (also known as Hiero) was a ruthless tyrant who had a strong admiration of the arts and literature, particularly plays produced by Aeschylus and Bacchylides.
  • His plays were so good that they were re-staged a number of times after his death in 456 BCE. This went against established convention where plays at festivals at Athens were performed once.
  • In addition to writing his masterpieces, the Greek tragedian also got on stage and performed. He even sometimes put his life on the line while on stage as he was scorned by a section of the Greek society for saying too much about the Eleusinian Mysteries.
  • Aeschylus’ plays added immense value to literature, particularly tragedy, which to be honest was still in its formative stage. Even to this day poets and writers continue to take a page from many of his poems.
  • His amazing plots were woven in an intricate manner. Lazed with emotional intensity, they resonated very well with the audience because the contained universal themes like courage, honesty and patriotism.
  • He was an acclaimed innovator as he revolutionized the stage setting and props used. This allowed him to produce brilliant stage effects. Similarly, he was known for designing plot-enhancing costumes. He also painstakingly trained the chorus, allowing them to complement the plot with their song recitations and dance.

Famous plays written by Aeschylus

In his lifetime, Aeschylus wrote about 90 plays, which included satyr plays and tragedies. Unfortunately, not all the titles of those plays are known. Only seven tragedies of this great dramatist survived. Take the example of his Oedipus trilogy, which had four plays; only the third play, Seven Against Thebes (467 BCE), survived.

Some of the most famous plays written by Aeschylus are as follows:

  • The Suppliants (c. 463 BCE)
  • Seven Against Thebes (c. 467 BCE)
  • Prometheus Bound (c. 430 BCE)
  • The Persians (472 BCE)
  • Eumenides (458 BCE)
  • Agamemnon (458 BCE)

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